I can become an angry old millennial too easily. Sometimes all it takes is a bad day on social media or a red light and I’m raging with a smile on my face (the drama unfolds in my head, so you can’t see it).
It’s far too easy to blame a rejection or failure on outside circumstances. After thirty-three years on this rock, one thing I’ve learned the hard way is this: we sabotage our own potential.
How does this occur? We adopt bad habits that secretly eat our dreams for breakfast. Below are each of the bad habits that I have found to do the most damage which you may recognize in your own life.
Blowing up at feedback
When someone at work gives you feedback, do you blow up? Do you run around to everybody in the office and sook about that person and say nasty things about them.
Feedback is glorious. You don’t have to take feedback but you can at least ponder it. Nobody is 100% wrong about anything.
You sabotage your potential when you refuse to take feedback.
The negative self-talk
My mind can quickly get out of control and start analyzing situations that are completely unrelated. The solution my negative self-talk comes up with is almost never implemented.
It’s just useless conversation that is supposed to be the dress rehearsal for when I have the real conversation with the person that supposedly got in my way. I’m a tough guy in my head and a sweetheart when it comes to the actual performance.
You can’t completely eliminate your self-talk. You can interrupt it, though. How? Break the pattern. You’re a smart Cookie Monster. When you notice your negative self-talk is out of control, use a pattern interrupt.
Say something to yourself like, “Okay settle down tiger.” Or “I’m better than this conversation.”
Another solution is to take a walk or go hit the gym and sweat the negative self-talk out of your mind and onto the gym floor.
We all have negative self-talk, it’s what you do to minimize it, not eliminate it, that stops you sabotaging your potential.
Blaming everybody else
Last year this good little LinkedIn blogger lost his job. He got thrown out onto the gutter and forced to pick himself back up off the floor with a heavily reduced ego and a few tears. It was devastating. I blamed everybody for the situation but myself.
We all play a part in our own nightmares.
Nobody is entirely to blame for your shortcomings. When it came time to do interviews, the blame didn’t stop. I blamed recruiters and hiring managers for not wanting to hire my awesomeness. It turned out it wasn’t awesomeness I was showing them; it was my ego and they didn’t like it.
When you blame others, all you do is prevent yourself from observing what you could do better and learning from the experience.
The solution was to take responsibility. I turned the blame into self-reflection. Every problem became a chance to reflect. The easiest form of reflection, which is less fashionable than journalling and publicly challenging, is blogging.
I showed everybody my mistakes and what I learned in the form of blog posts. People that could help me saw those posts, and were inspired. Other people that could help saw those posts and hated me for it. The inspired people outweighed the haters and job opportunities were born.
Quit the blame or you’ll go insane.
When problems happen in my life, like getting banned from a social media platform, I often make the mistake of doing the pity roadshow.
The pity roadshow is where I travel around the internet on video calls, through people’s inboxes, and lodge myself in the middle of their direct messages. The show starts with me explaining the problem and then hoping the other person can feel the disappointment.
There is no sense in this circus act. It gets me nowhere every time and the other person just ends up feeling drained and uninspired by it.
The solution is this: as I talk to people during these moments, I pre-warn them of what I might do and ask them to interrupt my pity party if I end up going there. It works great. It gives people permission to stop me seeking pity.
Once you get passed pity, you can move on to the solution and begin making progress again.
Giving up too easily
One of my biggest hidden flaws is giving up too easily. As a child, I was a spoilt brat. My 104-year-old grandma gave me everything I wanted.
Later in life, this attitude became a problem. When I didn’t get what I wanted, I gave up. I pivoted to a new idea or career way too fast. This problem caused me to give up a music career that could have led me to amazing places.
I sang in choirs for four years as a child, then played the drums for seven years, then was a DJ for five more years while studying sound engineering for four years and finishing at the top of my class in high school for music, and then went on to be a music producer and getting signed to two record labels, followed by giving it all away, for nothing.
Everything I just wrote there was enough experience and skills to take me to the Grammy’s. In a way, it was almost impossible to fail, yet I did.
You have to break the bad habit of giving up right before the hockey stick curve to the results that end up looking impossible.
Not appreciating how far you’ve come
I logged into one of my social media accounts today. A blog post I wrote reached more than two million people in twenty-four hours.
A bad habit I’ve had to learn to stop is not being grateful. That’s a huge milestone and when we fail to acknowledge such feats, we rob ourselves of the enjoyment we get from the process of creating.
You’ve come further than you realize but if you don’t take time to stop and see how far you’ve come, you will miss the opportunity to derive meaningand fulfillment from it all, and limit your potential.
Doubting your future
I used to doubt my future all the time and sometimes still do. This is a bad habit and it’s not good for you.
When you doubt yourself, you subconsciously commit criminal acts against yourself that sabotage your potential.
You end up saying no to a great opportunity or brushing off a potential romantic partner as not good enough. Doubting your future causes unsubstantiated worries to creep into your life, and anxiety and depression to thrive in the weeds of your mind.
There is nothing to doubt about the future because it hasn’t happened yet. What changed my life was realizing I create the future based on exactly what I do right now, not tomorrow.
The actions you take today determine your future, not your doubts.
You have unlimited potential when you stop (or at least notice) the bad habits of blowing up at feedback, negative self-talk, blaming everybody else, seeking pity, giving up too easily, not appreciating how far you’ve come, and doubting your future.
You can sabotage your own potential and that means you have control to get out of your own way when outside circumstances get in the way, if you choose or notice what’s going on.
Give yourself the gift of self-awareness.
This article first appeared on Medium.