Ask anyone at any level of any company and the odds are that at some point they have second-guessed themselves about a decision they’ve made. Sometimes it’s a positive thing, as that extra time gave them the breathing space to make a better decision. However, occasionally – especially if it starts to happen more often – these nagging feelings can topple into self-doubt and questioning your ability in your role.
Here are a few simple tips on recognising and dealing with those moments so that you can create greater self-awareness, recognise potential negative behaviours and perform at your full potential.
How is it happening? If you’re starting to undermine yourself, what does that look like?
Picking up bad habits
According to Forbes, the most common damaging work habits include procrastination, negativity, tardiness and poor communication.
Dr Katharine Brooks at the University of Texas believes that one bad habit can lead to ‘isolation, or shunning the office’, potentially resulting in poor performance reviews and even your suitability to do your job. “People might notice one bad habit, and it preps them to notice other faults or problems”, she says.
It’s important to recognise that these behaviours may be stemming from something more complicated than demotivation at work - and that the least disruptive habits could be traced back to something bigger - so take your time to identify which ones you feel you can make a conscious effort to get rid of initially.
For example, if you are regularly late for work, set your alarm 10 minutes earlier or set your clock ahead by 10 minutes. If you struggle to get to meetings on time make sure you always have them set in your calendar and pay attention to that 15-minute reminder. If it’s deadlines that you find hard to meet, set it two days earlier than it actually is to guarantee some buffer time.
Getting stuck on the negative
Similar to adopting bad habits, being caught in a cycle of negative thinking is potentially damaging to your career and your mental health. If you don’t catch it early these thoughts can become normal and your performance will really suffer.
If you can connect these feelings to certain actions at work, such as spending break time with negative people, remove yourself from this environment and focus on doing something positive for yourself during this time instead.
Start to silence these negative thoughts by telling them – in whatever language works for you – to go away, and if you’re feeling up to it, make a list of those ‘negatives’ about yourself and then write a positive alternative definition next to it.
For example, if you feel that you have ‘cynical’ traits, think instead that this means you’re more likely to be rational about things and avoid making snap decisions. It won’t be a quick fix, but it’ll certainly help to reframe your thinking.
If you feel like you fail more than you succeed, draw whatever positives you can from those ‘failures’, e.g. put something down to a learning experience, and take time to appreciate your successes. Keep those emails thanking you for your efforts and give them a read when you need to.
Listening to your ‘down’ voice
It’s very annoying - that little voice that tells you that you can’t do something or aren’t cut out to try for that promotion. We have all sorts of limiting voices swimming around in our heads for different reasons, and sometimes they can pop up for no reason at all.
Try to make a mental note of any patterns, for example if this voice speaks up when you’re performing a particular task, as this may point to a simple fix such as needing further training on it.
If this is something you’re finding happens quite frequently, however, it may be a positive step to seek advice from a counsellor or mentor to see if you would benefit from further help to understand why these feelings occur. This may also help you to reaffirm your goals, highlight your strengths as a person and an employee, and bolster your desires to succeed.
We are all the causes and solutions to sabotaging ourselves, but by consciously making the effort to recognise bad habits, stem negative thoughts and seek advice for combatting our internal ‘down’ voice, we can create better self-awareness and allow our best qualities to take hold.