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How to end Self Sabotage, and why you’re doing it, with Emerald Sparks

How to end Self Sabotage, and why you’re doing it, with Emerald Sparks

According to research from The University of California Berkley, the University of California San Francisco, and The Entrepreneurship Center at UCSF, entrepreneurs are 50 percent more likely than those that are not entrepreneurs to report having a mental health condition. 

And, honestly, I’m not surprised. As an entrepreneur it can be rough. Unless you set good personal boundaries you can easily work all of the time. Seriously, all of the time.  Financial constraints are common. Sleep-deprivation is the norm. Starting something new, or working alone, is socially isolating. There’s this perception that you must always be “on,” because everyone is a potential new client or connection. The ups and downs are constant. And, there’s so much uncertainty.  Like, so much uncertainty. 

It’s time we start talking about the physical and mental health of entrepreneurs, and it’s certainly been top of mind for me and Molly lately.

This is why we’re excited to introduce a series of Quidwell articles written by local entrepreneurial coach Emerald Sparks where she’ll share common pitfalls, places for growth, and advice to hopefully make this road easier for all of us. Read the first one on self-sabotage below. 

Forward by Meriden McGraw


We all do it. No matter how successful you are, at one time or another, you’ll fall into the self-sabotage trap, and the price of admission is high. There was a point in time where I engaged in behaviors that caused me to operate at a lower frequency because, whether I wanted to admit it or not, I did not believe in myself. Self-sabotage comes in many forms, but when it comes to business, these things are almost certain to be a result of self-sabotage: 

  • Your income will suffer
  • Your self-esteem will plummet
  • Your confidence will find new lows

This downward spiral can quickly turn devastating, but stopping it is easy when you learn to recognize the symptoms:


Procrastination is what keeps us working late at night to make a deadline, costs us money in late fees, and can even cost us business. When you find yourself putting things off until the last minute, you set yourself up for unnecessary stress. If you are a frequent procrastinator, you can alienate others, because you don’t appear to be dependable or trustworthy to get things done when they need to get done. If you’re prone to procrastination, try these techniques to put an end to it:

  • Recognize your fear. Ask yourself, “What is causing me to procrastinate? Why can’t I get it done?” What often keeps us stuck is pure fear. We’re afraid that even with all the resources in the world, we still won’t reach our goals, so we put off applying. We’re worried we’ll look bad when compared to others who have skin in the game, so we don’t promote our business. But if you want to be successful in business, you must learn to recognize and face your fears, then do the work anyway. 
  • Visualize the life and business you desire. Imagine what it will be like to have the business you’ve been dreaming about since you’ve started. Picture your ideal workday, daydream about that fabulous vacation you’ll take, and imagine VIP days with your perfect client.Manifestation is everything, and living the life you deserve starts with the positive thoughts and stories you tell yourself.
  • Treat yourself. It’s okay to give yourself a little incentive to get things done. Take yourself out to lunch; buy a new pair of shoes; take an afternoon off. Quiet as kept, the Olive Garden is my favorite little secret when I feel like I have moved mountains in my business and want to celebrate with a pasta. Do what’s most likely to motivate you to power through your fears and take the next step. 

Failing to Complete Your Projects

Be honest. How many half-written books, partially planned programs, and unfinished products are cluttering up your hard drive right now? 

If you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs, the answer is probably more than you would like to admit. 

You started all of them with great enthusiasm. You planned out the modules or chapters, created the slide decks, and maybe even outlined the sales page. And then…you just stopped working on it. 

Maybe you tell yourself that you’re too busy. Maybe you “need to do some more research.” Or maybe you lost interest. But the truth is, none of those are the real reason. For a lot of entrepreneurs, this self-sabotaging habit is a symptom of a lack of confidence, and it’s keeping you from the success you deserve. 

Consider this: You cannot know the actual success rate of a product or service you’ve never finished, and you cannot improve upon something you’ve never completed.

So rather than filling your hard drive with half-finished projects, power through and start releasing them—even if you believe they’re not perfect or don’t think they’ll never sell.

The best teacher is experience, and you have to have the confidence to know that regardless of the outcome, it will prepare you to know how to do things differently next time.

Not Knowing How to Say ‘No’

The word “yes” can feel like word vomit when you realize that you agreed to do something that isn’t in line with your goals. Sometimes you answer too quickly because you want to please others or don’t want to seem like you are rude. One thing I’ve learned as a business owner is to establish boundaries sooner than later. It is easy to want to be a part of everything – be a vendor at an event, go networking, become a business partner, be a speaker at an unknown conference – but take a look at your bottom line.

Every ‘yes’ that you say that does not align with your goals takes you further and further away from achieving them. Be frugal with your ‘yes’ so that you don’t fall behind and resent what you do. Every time you say ‘yes’ to something you don’t want to do, it takes an opportunity away from someone who is willing and capable of doing what you don’t want to do. By utilizing ‘no’ more, you put yourself in a position to win instead of sabotaging your goals with things that do not truly serve you.

Self-sabotaging behaviors are important to understand. If you want to grow your business, you have to pause and reflect on what behaviors you engage in stifles your growth instead of promoting it. The only thing stopping you from success is you; you have to recognize it first.

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