How to Avoid Self Sabotage


I went shopping for some AA batteries. An easy enough task that would’ve set me back around $10-$15.

When I went to purchase the batteries, I came across a torch that looked like a small light sabre. They came in various colours. They looked pretty cool too. So I started to think how I might be able to use them with my clients. “If I bought 5 of them, I could run relays early in the mornings, then my clients could clearly see the course.” This was before daylight savings I might add. I told myself “then if I get different colours, I could have a green team and a red team.”

This conversation in my head continued until I had convinced myself these ‘light sabre’ looking lights were an absolute necessity to my business. So instead of handing over $15.00, I parted with just over $100.00. Don’t get me wrong, I use the lights. But could I have trained my clients through winter without them? Probably.

The Power of Self Talk

This train of thought catches us all. If we believe strongly enough in something, there’s very little that will stand in our way to achieve what we want. This can be an incredibly powerful motivator or it can be our undoing.

Think about what you eat. How many times have you seen a food you crave that might not be particular healthy (maybe something sweet) and had any one of the following conversations with yourself…

Treat yourself! You work hard.

God, it’s only one. Stop beating yourself up.

I know . . I’ll just eat it now and tomorrow, I’ll go super hard on my run.

Life’s for living! Just get it.

If any (or all) of these sound familiar, you’re not alone. We all have a tendency to justify ourselves and our actions should the need arise.

But you should know this. The second, I mean the very instant you start the process of ‘negotiating’ with yourself, you’ve already lost.

Think about it. You’re having this conversation with you! No-one else. If one of the thoughts I’ve listed above enters your mind, what you’re doing is creating a need. It’s much easier to justify, if it becomes a necessity. Just like my colourful torches, not an any stage did I, or do I, need them.

The truth is, I wanted them. To justify my purchase, I converted a ‘surplus want’, into a ‘can’t live without need’, and I successfully negotiated the purchase of 10 mini light sabres quite well.

How to Avoid Self Sabotage

The most effective way to avoid these negotiations is to have a clear and concise goal to work towards.

  • If you love chocolate, name a day of the week to treat yourself. That way, if it’s any other day, there’s no discussion. No negotiation. You just don’t have it.
  • Have a meal plan. It doesn’t have to be to the calorie but if you’re actively thinking about your meals ahead of time, three things happen:
  1. You’re a much better chance of preparing it yourself, using fresh produce.
  2. If you do, the chance of that meal being healthier than any option at a food court are incredibly high.
  3. You’ll start to think about how to satisfy your hunger throughout the day with healthy mid­morning and mid-afternoon alternatives. This saves the 3pm sugar craving trip to the vending machine to ‘negotiate’ the best choice for an afternoon snack.

So the next time you find yourself about to negotiate, take a minute. Think back to this article. Smile. And walk away.

To your continued health and fitness,

John Field



Thanks for reading my thoughts on self sabotage.

As a Motivational Speaker and the Corporate Fitness Program Director, Field Goals Fitness and the 12 Week Corporate Challenge, I lead a collective of health and fitness professionals dedicated to helping Australians lead a more active and healthier lifestyle.

If you’d like to find out more about how I can help your organisation, with a motivational seminar or 12 Week Corporate Challenge, please contact me at or go to

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