If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else?
Okay, okay, you’ve no doubt heard motivational messages like this one before, maybe from your manager; perhaps a parent. When you’re clearly in need of some kind of motivational boost and someone rattles off a line like this, it’s easy to shrug it off as a corny, slightly patronising gesture. Thanks, but no thanks!
The thing is, we do need to believe in ourselves if we want others to. We are our own harshest critics; the first to call ourselves stupid or beat ourselves up about missing an opportunity. We put immense pressure on ourselves to achieve the unachievable, and when we don’t; stress about how we could have done things better. These thought patterns are poisonous and slowly sabotage our chances at success. As much as we’d hate to admit it, often we are actually to blame for bringing ourselves down.
The good news is it’s never too late to pep ourselves back up. Sometimes all it takes is a little self-reflection and resistance. If you want to start achieving great things, these are the toxic habits you’ll need to break first:
1. Comparing yourself to others
If you look around your office or scroll through your Facebook news feed, it’s easy to convince yourself everyone’s more successful than you. When you start to feel like you’re lagging behind your peers, friends or family members, you need to stop right there. Everyone is leading totally unique lives, full of different challenges and successes. Nobody likes to broadcast their troubles; so you’re probably comparing your bloopers to their highlight reel anyway (as the saying goes). Stop focussing on everyone else, and start concentrating on reaching your own potential.
2. Taking too much on
Living life on the verge of a major panic attack from being overworked is incredibly unhealthy; both physically and mentally. Stop saying ‘yes’ to everything, and learn how to say ‘no’ (learn from Jim Carrey’s mistakes below). Taking on an unrealistic workload and over-committing yourself will leave you feeling exhausted all the time, and will strip the enjoyment out of everything you do. You’ll start resenting everything that eats into your precious energy stores and things you used to enjoy will likely become burdens. Recognising your tendency to burn yourself out is the first step in breaking this habit. Stop letting guilt pressure you into spreading yourself thin.
3. Failing to switch off
Mastering the art of relaxing outside of work hours is difficult to do, but imperative to your success. If you want to start each day feeling refreshed and motivated, you need to learn how to switch off when you leave the office. Stop checking your work emails at 10:30pm before you go to bed; stop taking client calls at dinner time. Remember, you work to live; not the other way around. The sooner you prioritise ‘switching off’ when you’re not on duty, the sooner you’ll start to feel your energy levels and drive at work increase.
4. Holding onto your mistakes
It turns out Elsa from Frozen was not just a pretty face; she was definitely onto something when she sang ‘Let it Go’. Everyone makes mistakes; no one is perfect. Holding onto past slip-ups and misfortunes will only prevent you from moving forward. If you keep referencing your failures and obsessing over how and why you let it happen, you’ll only feel lower about yourself and hold yourself back form accepting new challenges, for fear of failing.
5. Making self-deprecating comments
This one’s not really a silent habit, as it involves talking, but the quiet mental fallout that occurs after you’ve brought yourself down is where the real damage manifests. Stop selling yourself short and making jokes at your own expense. A cheap laugh like this will cut into your confidence. The moment you start taking yourself seriously and supporting your own goals is the moment others will follow suit.