Kicking off: avoiding self-sabotage

“Sabotage” comes from a French word meaning “to walk noisily and clumsily in one’s wooden shoes” (sabots). While the modern usage of the word means something closer to intentionally destroying or disrupting an object or activity, in the context of a coaching relationship it can be useful to recall this alternative meaning of awkward clodhoppishness.

When we prepare to make change, it is very important to consider how we might self-sabotage: what are the things that we might allow to get in our way, or unintentionally put there, which give us a way to retreat into old habits? In this context, reframing sabotage from a nefarious mastermind design (who among us would admit to that?) to a more familiar sense of clumsiness or awkwardness (who among us hasn’t been there?) may be a useful way to make this abstract concept more familiar and manageable.

The first step towards avoiding self-sabotage is being frank with ourselves about what internal and external factors might get in the way of meeting our goals.

A few questions that might help identify these self-sabotaging factors include:

  • What might get in the way of my progress?
  • What will I need to stop doing to make room for this change?
  • What beliefs do I hold about myself that are challenged by the change I want to make?

Then, just like all goals, we can identify options and design actions for addressing these when we identify moments of self-sabotage.

If we think of the start of our coaching journey as a place where we identify all the resources we need so we can pack a ‘tool kit’ to prepare us along the way, these strategies are like a lightweight but sturdy pair of shoes we can pull out whenever we find ourselves stumbling along in awkward wooden shoes.

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