Ep #151: What Isn’t Working in Your Business: Self-Sabotaging

If your coaching business isn’t making the progress and getting the results you had expected, there’s a strong possibility that you’ve fallen into one of the most common traps out there: self-sabotage.

For me, this is something I’ve done lots of work around. I’ve done it every step of my journey as an entrepreneur in some form, and whether you’re conscious of it or not, chances are you’re self-sabotaging in some area of your business or life. Because it’s so common, we’re unpacking all of it in today’s episode.

Tune in this week to discover what self-sabotage is and how to see where it’s coming up for you. Plus, I’m giving you some strategies and tips for overcoming self-sabotage for good. We’re taking a deep dive, and I’m showing you where self-sabotage shows up in the Self-Coaching Model, and how you can generate extra awareness around it, so it isn’t a problem in the future.

If you’re ready to create the next-level million-dollar version of yourself and become an example of what is possible, I invite you to join my High-Level Mastermind. And if you’re not at that level yet but you want to be, I encourage you to join my business accelerator, The Mastermind. I’m so confident in the processes that I teach that especially for the next cohort, I’m guaranteeing your investment. So click here to fill out your application and schedule a call! 

I’ve created something special for all of you, it’s an exclusive three-part private podcast series called 3 Vital Shifts Every Life Coach Needs to Rapidly Scale Their Business. I know it’s going to bring a ton of value to you because so many of you listeners are in this process right now, and this is the perfect resource to help you position yourself to make a quantum leap in your business. And to get access, all you need to do is click here!

What You’ll Learn:

  • Why self-sabotage isn’t something that happens to us, but something that we do, and we have full control over it.
  • Where self-sabotage really comes from and why we self-sabotage.
  • How to see the power you have over your tendency to self-sabotage.
  • The short-term payoff we get from self-sabotaging, despite the long-term negative consequences.
  • How we unconsciously interfere with our progress and self-sabotage through procrastination.
  • My tips and strategies for dropping the self-sabotage as you work towards your goals in your business.

Listen to the Full Episode:



Featured on the Show:

  • If you’re an established coach and are ready to scale your business, achieve your long-term goals and build a practice that will stand the test of time, my High Level Mastermind could help you take your business to the next level.  Find out more about it by scheduling a call with me here. I look forward to working with you!


Download a Transcript for The Life Coach Business Podcast

You are listening to The Life Coach Business Podcast with Amanda Karlstad episode number 151.

Welcome to The Life Coach Business Podcast, a show for coaches who are ready to up-level their business and take their impact, leadership, and results to a whole new level. If you’re ready to start taking powerful action and become the leader your business needs in order to grow and thrive, this show is for you. I’m your host, Amanda Karlstad, certified life and business coach, and entrepreneurial leadership expert. Now, let’s get down to business.

Hello, and welcome everyone. So glad to have you with me today. I’m super excited to have you here and bring you today’s episode. We are in our final week of summer break. I know many of you are in the same boat. You’re feeling me on that. I know many of you have already sent your kids back to school, and it’s officially been the start of the school year once again.

I know for me and for so many of my friends and just other parents that I’ve been talking to, I’m not sure quite why but this summer has absolutely flown by. It has been such an incredible summer, but it’s also really great to be going back to school and getting back into the swing of things. I have to say the kids are really excited about that too.

So as we are moving back to school in just a few days, there is a lot of excitement happening. I’m also really excited for what’s been happening behind the scenes here in the business and for some things that I have been working on and creating for some really, really exciting things that I know are going to help so many of you take things to the next level in your business.

So if you are ready to do that, if you are ready to take your business to that six, multiple six, or even seven figures in revenue in this next year, I want to encourage you to apply, to apply to work with us for us to support you and help you in doing that. Because we are doing, I have to tell you, some really, really big things inside of my programs.

So no matter if you’re working to build, again, towards that first six figures or if you’re already at that point, and you are looking to scale, we have some really amazing things happening inside of the two programs that I offer that you truly don’t want to miss out on.

You don’t want to miss out on this opportunity to not only join us in the upcoming cohort of the mastermind, or if, again, you’re a coach who’s looking to scale, in my High Level Mastermind. And you’re really ready to go beyond and to create your million dollar business, we have just a few spots left in my High Level Mastermind, and so many exciting things happening that truly you do not want to miss out on.

So definitely go to the show notes or go to my website amandakarlstadtcoaching.com. You can fill out your application and set up a call. We would love to show you a personalized strategy on how you can hit your goals in this coming year, and how we can support you in doing that. So once again, go to amandakarlstadtcoaching.com. Or you can also check out the show notes of this episode, and you’ll be able to find more information there.

All right. Today, we are going to talk about self-sabotage. This is something that I personally have been doing a lot of thinking about lately, and looking at all of the ways that as coaches and entrepreneurs we tend to self-sabotage. For me, it’s definitely something that I have done lots of work around. It’s something that I have found myself doing. I think it’s a really important topic for all of you listening because whether you are conscious of it or not, for most coaches, for most entrepreneurs who are building businesses, there is usually always some form of self-sabotage that is happening. Whether it is realized or not.

Depending on what that looks like, it’s something that can greatly impact your results as a business owner, and it can greatly impact the way that you show up for your clients. It’s something that can greatly impact the way that you’re showing up in and also for your business. So because this is something that is so prevalent among not only clients that I’ve worked with and something that I’ve also experienced myself, but something that I think we all as humans experience.

So I wanted to bring you today’s episode and really do more of a deep dive into what is self-sabotage and how it might be showing up for you. Also give you some strategies and some tools on how you can overcome this for yourself, especially if you’re finding yourself in a place right now, where you are currently self-sabotaging.

Now, one of the things that I think is really important right off the bat is to understand that self-sabotage is something we do to ourselves. It is something that if we’re talking about how this is showing up for ourselves, it’s something that, let’s say, we’re defining it by the self-coaching model. It’s something that actually falls into our action line or our a line. It’s something that we do.

So the first aspect that I want you to realize is that self-sabotage is not something that is happening to you. Instead, it is something that you have full control over. It is a choice. It’s something that when you recognize it happening, I want to challenge you to see that it is a choice. Typically when it is happening in your life, it’s a choice that you’re making on purpose with the reason so that you can feel differently. So that is the first big shift that I want to offer to all of you today is that self-sabotage is actually a choice, and it’s something that you have full control over.

Now, it’s also something that you’re likely doing because you are either consciously or unconsciously wanting to feel differently about your circumstances, about something in your business, for example, or perhaps maybe even in your life. Now, as I’m talking to you today about self-sabotage, I’m really coming at it from the lens of how it relates to your business, how it really shows up in your business, and the effect that it has on your business and your business growth.

But I will also say that you can definitely apply everything that I’m bringing to you today to your life and use what I’m teaching you here today, and use it to apply it to your life as well. So when we are choosing to self-sabotage ourselves and doing it because we are trying to feel differently about a circumstance or something in our business, for example, what’s also happening is that we’re also likely experiencing a short term payoff when we’re doing it.

What I mean by this is that even though in the long term the self-sabotage behavior is probably not the direction that you want to be going or even though the action that you might be taking that is coming up in the form of self-sabotage, you might understand that logically, it doesn’t serve you. The fact is that in most cases, it’s because there is some sort of short term payoff that you’re getting.

While you might have temporary relief, and while you might be able to feel differently in the short term, what very quickly ends up happening is that you end up sacrificing what it is that you most want in the long term. So I think a great way to understand self-sabotage is to understand that it’s a way of creating unnecessary problems for yourself. It’s done in a way that interferes with your own goals.

I really like to think of it through this lens because as a human, the truth is that we all have the ability to set and to achieve goals based on what we decide we want to achieve. So when we set out and we decide that we are going to, let’s say, go after a certain set of goals, what’s happening is that we’re using a part of our brain which is called the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is where we create. It’s where we do all of our highest level decision making.

So you in the prefrontal cortex, when we’re utilizing that section of our brain, we are utilizing, and this is where things like our reasoning, our problem solving, our comprehension, our impulse control, our creativity, our perseverance are all a function of our prefrontal cortex.

So, as humans, we have this unique ability to use our prefrontal cortex in so many amazing ways. One of those ways is in having the ability to consciously create our future, to consciously create our dreams, to consciously create our businesses in a way that reflects the way that we want to do our work, that reflects the highest version of ourselves.

So when we set goals for our businesses, those goals are created with the highest level of thought power and brain power that we truly have. That’s located in that prefrontal cortex. So the ability that we have, as humans, to be able to set goals and then go after those goals is truly one of the most amazing things that we have the ability to do. It’s one of the best things that we can do is to set goals. It’s one of the highest levels of activities that we have the ability to do.

The second highest level of activity that we have the ability to do is then managing ourselves and managing our emotions and our behaviors so that we can go out and achieve those goals and fulfill those goals. So as a human, this truly is a privilege, to be able to set goals and achieve them in the ways that we have the ability to do so.

However, so many of us set goals for our businesses or in our lives in a way where we then interfere with our own progress, where we interfere with our progress towards completing those goals. We do this in the form of self-sabotage. One of the ways that I see this show up so often for coaches is in the form of procrastination. In putting off the activities and the things that would actually move things forward in the business and actually help one move closer to their goals.

How this tends to show up is in the form of not doing what needs to be done, even though you might consciously know what it is that needs to be done or what it is that needs to be done in order to move things forward. The truth is that self-sabotage is usually presenting when it takes the form of choosing to, for instance, buffer with social media or scrolling Instagram or scrolling Tik Tok and searching for that next shiny object that we might perceive to be that missing length.

So rather than learning and doing the things in the business that actually produce revenue, instead so often I see coaches spend their time on things that at the end of the day don’t directly impact the growth of the business, that don’t directly impact revenue in the business. Things that might be “nice to have” but don’t actually translate into sales. So procrastination is huge, and it’s a form of self-sabotage that tricks us into feeling better in the moment so that we get that dopamine hit from social media, or we get that dopamine hit from whatever it is that we might be choosing to do instead of what will actually move the needle forward.

But when this happens in this search for what I call false pleasure, the truth is that it instead interferes with our progress towards our goals. So for instance, if you have it on your calendar to work on an important project in your business. Maybe that looks like developing your new group program, or maybe it’s creating a new marketing funnel. Rather than following through on your calendar, you instead decide to scroll your morning or maybe your afternoon away on social media.

This type of behavior is actually a self-sabotaging behavior that in the short term is providing that temporary relief. It’s providing a level of pleasure in the short term, but over time compounds and actually takes you farther away from your goal.

The other form of self-sabotage that I see come up so often for coaches is in the form of quitting. One of the most common phrases that I hear from coaches who are struggling to gain momentum in their business is that “it’s not happening fast enough”. It’s something that I think has become even more challenging as of late as the coaching industry has grown. That’s because there are more and more examples of what might appear to be on the surface overnight successes.

So I think there’s a lot of examples that it’s perceived that a certain coach may have created a level of success in their business in a way that looks like it happened overnight. Where they might have just done X, Y, Z thing, and voila, they had a six figure business.

What I want to say about this is I definitely don’t believe that success has to take a long time, but I do believe that it also doesn’t happen overnight. The truth is that when you start to uncover what actually led to the success in a lot of these cases is that the truth is that there were a lot of years of work leading up to that success.

But because a lot of coaches operate from a model of things aren’t happening fast enough, and you might be relating to that right now. Just by nature of operating from this model, by thinking the thought that things aren’t happening fast enough, what is actually happening is that you’re perpetuating a pattern of self-sabotage. It creates a spiral of self-sabotage in your business.

What I see happen also so often is that so many coaches end up quietly quitting on their commitment. What this means is that they are moving in and out of their commitment on a daily, on a weekly, on a monthly basis, which ultimately impacts their overall focus, and impacts their overall ability to get done what needs to get done in the business.

So if you’re finding yourself in a place where you’re not fully showing up in your business, where you’re procrastinating or buffering or not doing the important things. If you’re finding that you are waffling in your commitment to your goals, if you’re not fully committed, if you’re moving in and out of commitment, if you’re in a pattern where you’re quietly quitting on your goals, and you’re spinning in any way, chances are that you’re self-sabotaging.

I will tell you there’s a really dangerous part of this pattern. The reason that this becomes so dangerous is because the more and more that it is practiced, the more and more that it becomes established, and it becomes more and more of a habit and it becomes more and more of a place that you are gaining a payoff, it starts to become part of your identity. Which then reinforces the beliefs behind the self-sabotage, that reinforces the beliefs that might sound like you’re not worthy, or that you don’t have what it takes, or that you might only be capable of certain things and not capable of the things that you desire.

So this is why having a level of awareness to what I’m bringing to you today, to self-sabotage is so vitally important. So let’s talk about how to overcome self-sabotage. I want to give you some strategies on how to overcome and how to start changing some of the self-sabotaging patterns for yourself.

So the first step that I believe you must take in order to overcome self-sabotage is you have to first become aware. You have to first become aware of your pattern, of the behavior, the self-sabotaging behavior that is showing up for you. Once you become aware of that pattern, and you can see that pattern or the behavior that is showing up, you then get to decide to take control. You get to decide and look at how you’re currently controlling or attempting to control your emotions.

So the first step is to take control of your emotional management. That happens by first becoming aware of the emotions that you are experiencing, of the emotions that you are looking to avoid. So seeing those emotions and observing them and learning how to process your emotions effectively is very, very important.

So when you are processing emotions effectively, what’s important is that you’re not assigning meaning to your emotions. But instead, you’re understanding that having uncomfortable emotions and not being fully comfortable doesn’t automatically mean that something has gone wrong.

So the process of learning to feel discomfort, to feel uncomfortable emotions, and then to not layer on any other narratives as to why they are bad or wrong is really, really important. So that is the first strategy. Knowing that in your journey of building your business, that part of it is that you are going to experience negative emotion. That you are going to experience discomfort to a degree. So learning to embrace the discomfort and recognize that it’s part of the process is a really, really important part of this. Also understanding that building a business is not going to feel pleasant all of the time.

The next strategy that I found to be highly beneficial is gaining an understanding of what payoff it is that you are experiencing. So I’ve talked about some different ways that when we’re self-sabotaging, we’re actually experiencing some level of payoff, but I want to give you an example of this.

So let’s say that you find yourself in a pattern of procrastination where you are holding off on doing the things that you know you need to do, or not taking action on things that you know would move the needle in your business. Instead, you choose to spend time on social media and to scroll through social media, seeing what other coaches are doing, or throwing yourself into research and trying to figure out what some other coaches doing that you’re missing. This is a really common one that I see.

What’s actually happening in this scenario is that by nature of you not showing up and by nature of you not doing the actual work that you know needs to be done, you’re creating a situation where you’re gaining a payoff in that because you’re not showing up fully in the business or because you’re not fully putting yourself out there, you’re also not having to feel disappointment. You’re also not having to feel any level of rejection.

So the payoff, although it feels better in the moment because you get to “stay in the cave” and not put yourself out into the market in a big way is that you actually get the payoff of not feeling rejection, of not feeling disappointment if your message or if what it is that you are offering isn’t received or isn’t accepted in the way that you want it to be. So this is a huge form of self-sabotage that comes up for so many coaches. A lot of times it takes the form of procrastination.

So when you understand what the payoff is that you’re experiencing, what I have found, both with my clients and also with myself as I’ve done my own work on my own self-sabotage, is that once you can clearly see it for what it is, once you can see the payoff of what it is that you’re getting in the short term. It also allows you to dissolve it. It allows you to, in so many cases, drop the pattern and make a new decision forward. So having an understanding of what that payoff is a really important strategy for being able to overcome your own self-sabotage.

The next strategy is to understand what the negative emotion is that you’re trying not to feel. So when you see what form the self-sabotage is taking in your business, whether it’s procrastination, like we’ve just talked about, or not showing up fully, or maybe it’s buffering or taking other types of action that is providing you some level of short term payoff, but is instead sacrificing that long term growth. It’s truly understanding what it is, what emotion that it is that you’re trying to avoid. It’s finding that emotion that you’re trying to avoid and the thoughts that are triggering the emotion.

So I want you to ask yourself, what is the thought that you have about yourself, about your goals, or about your business that is creating for you and uncomfortable or negative emotion? So I want you to ask yourself that question. Then I want you to become aware of what are you trying to avoid? What is that emotion that you’re trying to avoid?

Now, I will tell you in my work after now working with hundreds and hundreds of coaches, taking them through my programs and my process, the thought patterns that are present for all of us, the thought patterns that interfere with us achieving the goals that we want the most, are also most often rooted in so much self-loathing, in so much added narratives around not feeling good enough or believing that we’re not good enough or capable enough.

So, again, when you can become aware of this, and you can clearly see that negative emotion that you’re experiencing that negative emotion that you are also trying to desperately avoid. It is a very, very powerful practice.

Lastly, a belief that I found to be extremely useful and helpful to me as it relates to breaking my own patterns of self-sabotage is to remember that success is inevitable. So today, I want to offer all of you this belief. The belief that the success that you want is, in fact, inevitable for you. For some of you, you might think that this sounds cliché. I will tell you, for me, this is something that I deeply believe. It is not some cliche to me. For myself and for my clients, it is something that I believe so deeply. That their success, that my success is inevitable.

The reason that success is inevitable is because it’s truly, in so many cases, just a math equation. If we think about probability, and I like to think about just the game of entrepreneurship. Building a business, to me is a game that we’re all playing. The only way to “fail” is to quit, is to fully quit on your dreams.

Because when it comes to a coaching business and when it comes to building a successful coaching business, given the times that we’re living in, given the fact that coaching is becoming what it is becoming in this world, given the technology that we have at our fingertips, the resources that are available to assist in building this type of business, I’ve come to learn that success for anyone who truly desires it is truly inevitable.

While it might require several iterations, while it might require lots of testing and lots of learning and lots of implementing new things in the business and lots of growth, at the end of the day, it’s truly only a matter of time. That time, my friends, you can speed it up. You can speed it up by applying the strategies that I taught you here today. You can speed it up by choosing to truly believe this belief. To decide to stay committed to your goals no matter what. All right, my friends, have an amazing week. I’ll talk to you all again next week. Take care.  Bye, bye.

Thank you for listening to this episode of The Life Coach Business Podcast. If you want to learn more about how to build, grow, and scale your business and accelerate your results visit amandakarlstadcoaching.com.

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