How to Beat Those Little Excuses That Can Sabotage Your Success

Community // Sarah Link // 3 May 2015

You might be cold and tired, or run off your feet and feeling stressed. We’ve all been there and at one time or another we’ve justified our choices to put off reaching goals by telling ourselves: “It can wait till tomorrow”, “I’ll start again next week” or the good old “Just one more won’t hurt”.

But when these statements become your mantra and you feel like something is holding you back, maybe it’s time to shift the focus inward and put a stop to this self-sabotaging monologue. Self-sabotage prevents you from achieving success – and defeating dialogue serves as a safety mechanism to protect you from disappointment and keeps you cosied up to your comfort zone.

Apart from the damage it can do to your health, it can also affect your relationships, says John Aitken, RSVP’s Relationship Psychologist. “If you’re single, you can sabotage yourself easily by getting into a negative mindset. Thoughts like ‘There’s no good ones out there!’, ‘I’m bad at relationships’ or ‘I’ll never meet anyone’, will simply take you out of the game before you even get started.”

Self-sabotage can also happen if you’re attached. John has witnessed couples sabotage their relationships in many ways, with one or both partners drinking in excess, working long hours, undermining each other with their children, neglecting their sex life or spending no quality time together. “Self-sabotage can often occur without your awareness”, says John. “If you don’t take stock, own up to it and take action, it can hold you back from reaching your true potential.”

What is Self-Sabotage?

Often caused by low self-esteem, self-sabotage manifests in the behaviours, thoughts and actions that prevent you from reaching your goals. Your inner saboteur works at a subconscious level, sneaking under the radar and creating roadblocks to your conscious desires. The kind of bargaining or reasoning that takes place is nothing more than mental prescriptions we take as fact. As Mish says, “Fortunately, none of these prescriptions are terminal – anyone can make the change and choose to get healthy.”

Put a Stop To Self-Sabotage

The first step in overcoming self-sabotage and regaining your power is recognising the thoughts, phrases and statements preventing you from making a change to your wellbeing.

Here are five common self-sabotaging phrases that could be pushing your health and fitness goals against the ropes.

1. “I’m too stressed out! I don’t have the time to … ”

If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends or running through your days like a mouse on a wheel, now is not the time to reach for takeaway and ditch your fitness plan. Eating sugary and processed foods can wreak havoc with your nervous system, increasing your stress levels. Staying committed to your nutrition and fitness plan will fuel your body, providing it with energy, and give you the edge on stress and fatigue.


Vending machines and corner store impulse buys are bad news. Pre-empt the munchies by packing quick and healthy snacks in your bag before you head out each day. Munching on a banana or a handful of almonds will leave you feeling satisfied and more in control of your food choices.

2. “It’s too hard! I just don’t have it in me to … ”

As Canadian ice hockey coach Wayne Gretzky so aptly put: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” If you don’t back yourself by taking the first few steps towards making a change you won’t ever find out what you’re capable of.

3. “I’ve had a bad day, so I’m rewarding myself with … ”

Instead of rewarding yourself with food or behaviours that jeopardise your goals, replace them with things that will help you achieve them. The ‘reward’ of a sweet treat is fleeting. Treating yourself to a massage, a trip to the movies or a warm shower reinforces healthy new behaviours and is far more effective than encouraging the unhealthy behaviours that put you behind the eight ball to begin with.


Put a dollar in a jar every time you make a healthy choice. At two or four week intervals (or whenever you reach a goal or milestone), reward yourself with a special purchase.

4. “I can’t work up the motivation to … ”

One of Mish’s favourite sayings is “Just Frickin’ Do It!” Motivation doesn’t always show up when you need it most, and like any emotion it comes and goes. So if you’re waiting for motivation to turn up at your door and take you to the gym or cook you a healthy meal, you could be in for a long wait. Consistency, not motivation, is key.

5. “I’ll do it tomorrow”

It may sound like a cliché but it’s true – tomorrow never comes. When you make a choice not to exercise, or you succumb to a craving, you’re hitting the snooze button on your goals. Acting on your commitment to change, by going for that walk around the block, you’re investing in your future by making the most of the present moment.


Be accountable. If your own internal cheer squad goes AWOL, rally your own support crew! Get your partner, neighbour or friends involved, and do an exercise class or cook healthy meals together. Go online for a great place to enlist support and keep you on track to achieving your goals. When you join the 12WBT you’ll have access to the Member Zone and thousands of people just like you, ready to cheer you on.

Join 12WBT now and you’ll get all the tools you need to be the best version of yourself.

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