The Sneakiest Way You're Unknowingly Sabotaging Yourself

Written by An Bourmanne

Tell me—who are you?

That might seem like a weird, out-of-the-blue question, and not the first thing you'd ask someone you've never met. But I'm asking that question because I want to talk to you about ... you, the way you see yourself and how that view of yourself is holding you back—though not intentionally.

So often, the way we see ourselves is based on our current behavior. It's based on the choices we make today:

  • Oh, I'm someone who's always late.
  • Oh, I'm someone who's boring—I don't have any exciting hobbies, adventures, or cool stories to tell.
  • Oh, I'm someone who always procrastinates.
  • Oh, I'm someone who's indecisive.
  • Oh, I'm someone who's not creative—I don't have any great ideas; I don't create; I don't draw; I don't sing, paint, sculpt, write, or perform onstage.
  • Oh, I'm someone who always says yes when someone asks for help, even when I don't have the capacity, time, or energy to do so.
  • Oh, I'm someone who doesn't move their body.

The more we reinforce these perceptions of ourselves, the more likely we are to live up to our own limiting definition of ourselves.

But here's the thing: those things that we do are not who we are.

The things that we do right now are just that—the things that we do right now—no more, no less. Those things are not the things we have to do tomorrow, let alone for the rest of our lives. Those things are not inextricably linked to who we are. That identity is not the fate we are doomed to do for the rest of our lives. Those things are just habits that we've grown into and that we can outgrow again.

You can be on time for that one meeting today. You can start reading that one book you didn't make time for, or take that wine tasting class you're interested in, or go to that art exhibition you've always wanted to see.

  • You can tackle that one task head-on. You can decide on that one small thing today—even when it feels scary.
  • You can notice how creative you already are right now, finding solutions for the problems you're presented with at work or at home.
  • You can say no to that one request—even when it feels uncomfortable. You can go for a hike today, or take the stairs, or do yoga in your living room.

Just take one action today that's in line with who you want to be. Then repeat.

So, here's your challenge:

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1. Ask yourself who you want to be.

Visualize that future you. How does it feel? Imagine how different your life would be. Imagine how you'd think about yourself. Write it down, say it to yourself out loud, pick a symbol that represents that future you, and put it somewhere you can see it every day. Say hi to your future you every night before you go to bed.

2. Find ways to bring that future you to life today.

Don't go for a makeover. Go for one thing you can start doing consistently. (And remind yourself of the future you every time you're about to take that new action or when you catch yourself defaulting to your old action.

3. Upgrade your mindset.

Your mindset should match that of your future you. That will help you stick to that one commitment you made consistently. Challenge your excuses, and all the "yes, but ..." hurdles that your mind comes up with. Remind yourself of what you stand to gain.

Let me know how it goes! What does your future you look like? And what one thing are you going start doing to bring that future you into your life today?

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