I want to look at a version of self-sabotage that is different than the last example. In the previous case Mary knew she was in her own way and didn’t fully understand how, why or what to do about it.

In Mike’s case he does not see himself as the obstacle and is therefore unable to start to identify the presence of the Saboteur until asked to examine his day in detail.

A Typical Day in Mike’s Week

“I have always been able to do a lot of work and get a lot done. I used to love work. But lately I’m worn out, less productive, and starting to hate my job. Most mornings I have a highest priority, but I start with all the unfinished stuff that’s piled up over the last few days.

Often, before I can make any headway, people start contacting me with last minute “emergency” work and questions and problems. I almost never turn them down, and a lot of the time I’m the only person who can fix the situation (or the person who should is incapable). It does seem to be true that if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. Whenever I’ve tried to train someone to take some of the work I shouldn’t have to do off my hands, I end up feeling like it would have been faster and easier to do it myself.

Plenty of days I lose track of time and forget to eat. Or I’ll be surprised it’s already so late in the day when my 3 o’clock appointment calls. By the time I get to what should be the end of the workday, I’m only just starting my highest priority.

I always took a lot of pride in my ability to “push through” and get things done. But lately I’m finding it takes longer and I’m not as confident in the quality.

Two things I noticed when I closely monitored my day:

  1. How often I could be finished with something for the time being and I say to myself “just one more.” Or, I’ll intend to just take a quick look at something, and before I know it, I’ve gotten all caught up and it’s midnight.
  2. How much time I spend rewarding myself by going and looking at something fun on the Internet (watching videos, reading about sports, checking e-mail). On the one hand I know I’m wasting time; on the other I feel a part of me rising up and saying “I need an occasional break, for God’s sake, and I deserve it!”

I feel perpetually worn down, I spend hardly any time with friends and family, I constantly dream of a long vacation that there’s no way I can take, and I feel like it’s never going to end.”

Do you recognize Mike’s Saboteur? How about the “possibility –> go unconscious –> habit –> no responsibility” cycle?
Next time I’ll share with you what I saw in Mike’s situation.

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