Has anyone ever told you, "You are your own worst enemy"?
Yeah, thought so.
Brutal, right? And yet so many of us are doing it.
Many of us have the education and skills to succeed... but we're getting in our own damn way, and it's a vicious cycle.
We're all doing it: Whether it's sabotaging your healthy eating each day with a pile of candy, or failing to get a promotion because you can't get out of bed on time.
Not all of this can be blamed on bad habits. You're not a perpetual monster child who is incapable of acting like an adult. You're simply working against yourself in invisible ways.
Let's break down what exactly you're doing, and how you can stop.
1. Present Bias.
Present bias is where you prioritize immediate payoffs over positives in the future. This is a very human tendency. I'd argue every human alive has succumbed to this at least once or twice.
But if you're continually falling into this trap, it's a problem. You have to figure out a way to give up things in the short term in favor of larger benefits in the long term. You won't reach your full potential until you can control your in-the-moment cravings.
Say you have a pile of invoices to process, but you also want to head home a little early today. Giving in to present bias would say it's ok to leave them for tomorrow and head on home.
But they'll still be there tomorrow, and you'll have wasted an opportunity to get ahead. Start buckling down, and putting in the work when it matters. Don't put things off when you have the time and ability to do them right away.
2. Sporadic Motivation.
You spent the morning watching the latest round of commencement speeches, and it got you all fired up. You have a super productive rest of the day but by tomorrow, it's all gone.
Yes, this is another basic human trait. We get excited in the moment and take action. Then, as the moment passes, we lose that excitement.
Motivation is fleeting. One day you'll wake up ready to crush a 5K and then the next thing you know, you're pulling the covers over your head and sleeping in until noon.
To fight this, surround yourself with reminders of your goals. Change the background of your phone to a picture of your sneakers, so you remember to go for a run. Put a reminder on your calendar at the same time every day that says, "go for a run!"
Keeping your goals in sight will help you tap into that feeling of motivation. You'll be able to remember why you wanted to do this in the first place, even when you're sweating through your shirt. We're visual creatures, so the more pictures you surround yourself with the better.
3. Tuning Out.
There are roughly 900,000,000,000 ways we can tune out of our lives.
TV, radio, SnapChat, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pokemon Go... the list is endless. Pull your phone out of your pocket and bam! Choose one of a billion apps to mess around with for the next 15 minutes. Or you know, two hours.
Sometimes, tuning out is a great way to turn off your brain. It's good to relax once in a while, but it shouldn't come at the expense of your productivity.
Put barriers between yourself and the ways you tune out. Keep your phone out of reach when you're at your desk or preparing to go to bed. Use site blockers to keep you off social media sites when you have a project due. Put a book you want to read in front of your TV, so it blocks your view when you turn the TV on. You'll have to move it, and when you do, make the choice to read for an hour instead of watching TV.
Be a more active participant in your own life. Pay attention to the details of your daily life. Being more actively engaged in your day will make you a better conversationalist, and help you produce better results at work and at home.
Getting out of your own way involves breaking some bad habits and fighting some of our human nature. You can do it, and you'll be amazed at the difference in your life once you do. Kick your own ass and see just how much of a success you really can be.