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Saturday, April 27 2013

Self sabotage  - what is it?  Self sabotage is when we say we want something then we make sure it doesn't happen.  It is the thing we do that holds us back and keeps us from being our best self.

What are the reasons we self sabotage?  It is a defense mechanism that we trigger to protect ourselves.  When it is overplayed, self sabotage is the enemy within.

The reason I bring it up is in work situations it can be a distraction in moderate doses but if it is overplayed, it can derail your career plans if you are not mindful of it.  Self sabotage happens when we get in our own way.  There are some of us who self sabotage repeatedly with behavior that overindulge in eating, drinking, spending, shopping, being too humble or procrastinating.  We do it in a misguided attempt to resolve our own negative feelings.

Have you slowed down your progress in the name of perfection?  Do you realize you may be self sabotaging.

Five common self sabotaging behaviors:

  1. Focusing on what is not working in your life.  Constant focus on what is not working right, means you focus on dissatisfaction.  This is not balanced and causes you to see the glass as empty and not working.  You may make harsh judgements about yourself and not notice some of the good things happening in your life.  There are times when focusing on what is not working helps you make improvements but to do that constantly can stifle your sense of purpose and ambition.
  2. Avoiding your feelings by putting obstacles in the way because you fear what may happen if you engage with others.  Many people fear being rejected.   To avoid addressing your fear, you may create situations to cause drama and chaos to instigate new problems or unsettle relationships.  As you look for comfort, you estrange yourself from others  to avoid the conflict.
  3. Procrastination is another common form of self sabotage.  Procrastination is the space between your intention and your action.  You may want something but fail to take action to make it happen.  You procrastinate by being distracted, being indecisive or making excuses when the delay can be harmful.  There are many reasons you procrastinate, generally to delay making a decision.
  4. Appearing humble by apologizing or worse talking negatively about yourself in hopes that others will speak up on your  behalf.  Self sabotage can be in the form of negative self talk or speaking to others putting yourself down.  Behaviors include customarily putting yourself down, apologizing or undervaluing your skills when none of these behaviors are necessary.  Whether you participate in negative self talk or put yourself down and identify that as being humble, both have harmful affects.
  5. Resisting change or being indecisive. Change involves doing something new.  Taking a risk to do it a different way.  If you revert back to what you normally do, that can be self sabotage.  You continue doing the behavior you say you want to stop.  You look for comfort by indulging in over-eating, drinking, spending or shopping.  Declare you want to do something new.  Change is how you grow.


Five ways to recognize self sabotage and ways to stop it.

Have awareness of self judgment.  It is a major form of self-sabotage.  Learn to temper your voice of self critism.  It is important to assess how your presentation, meeting or networking went.  It is healthy to do that and to ask others their thoughts.  Learn to have a balance and identify three positive actions for two negative actions.

Make effort as important as the outcomes.  Review how you prepared, who you enlisted to support you, how you collaborated, if  you are sharing the success with others.  Perfection is not always possible but you can still enjoy the process to get something done.

Understand that mistakes and failures do not define you but give you information you can use for the next time you prepare for your work.  Instead of avoiding getting started, adopt a do it now attitude and break tasks into small chunks.  Begin seeing failure as a setback, it is not permanent unless you quit trying.  Sooner and in smaller doses you will accomplish your goals.

Find ways to assess your feelings and be honest with yourself.  It is important to acknowledge and embrace feeling that may be painful.  Acknowledgement is the first step to healing. Concealing those feelings and avoiding them, will not help you.  You develop more resilience when you can discuss the situation and not be afraid of being honest with yourself.

Decide that you want to develop strength and resilience rather than self sabotage.  When you feel a self sabotaging behavior about to occur,  take time to assess the Pros and Cons of doing and not doing the self sabotage behavior.  Create a Self Sabotage grid similar to the one below to fill in the benefits or Pros or the negatives or Cons as you can.  Assess what triggers cause you to self sabotage.  Look at the situations, emotions, thoughts, people, feelings that occur.   Take your time creating the list, review it after a day and add more items to it.  This will help to guide your decision to continue the self sabotage or to change direction for the long term payoff.  For example, you have to create a presentation and deliver it in a week.  What are the pros and cons long term of doing it?

Pros Cons
Pros and Cons of Self Sabotaging Behavior
  • Not rushed in writing the presentation
  • Have time to research the subject
  •  Under time constraints to write
  • Research may not be as thorough or accurate
  • Have time to edit
  • Have time to practice the presentation
  • Panic with too many deadlines
  • Easily distracted with little accomplished


The more your recognize self sabotage, understand how it is holding you back, the more you can overcome it.  Reducing the frequency of self sabotaging behavior is the best way to get you where you want to go.

Posted by: Karen Delk AT 03:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, March 18 2013


As Women's Month draws to a close, I am struck at the renewed national debate of women having it all.  Over the course of my life, I remember two distinct periods when I discussed and heavily thought about my ability to have it all.  What does having it all mean?Having it all means we have the freedom to choose our career at home or in the workplace. Freedom to choose to have children or not.  Freedom to choose to marry or not.  
Sheryl Sandberg encourages women to lean into their career.  She contends, the rewards are there if women:
  • speak up more in the corporate board settings
  • get involved
  • stay involved
  • have a spouse who willingly helps keep the homefront in order
  • have a spouse to help is especially important if we are trying to have a family
Several years ago, I was fortunate to be part of the inaugural symposium, "Smashing the Glass Ceiling" for the Weissman Center for Leadership.  Then, we discussed these same issues.  We questioned could women have it all? How and when do you do it?  We determined it depends on timing, resources and sheer detrmination and will. 
Fourteen years before that, I took a class titled, "Women and Work."  We debated this same question.  This is just not a question for young women, intergenerationally, women are perched on this three legged stool of commitment to career, finding love in their personal life and starting or expanding a family. 
"Can women have it all?" 
I concluded a while ago, it is possible for women to have it all but not all at once.  Like a juggler spinning plates, get two or three plates spinning before adding two to three more.  Know that you will need to keep all plates spinning but at different speeds.  You do this by focusing on the action you want to take. Personally, I focused on career first (one plate) to get established, finding a mate second (two plates) and I relocated (three plates) with my career and then started a family (four plates).
I see a cultural shift in the work world right now.  This is helpful for all women but particularly women in the millennial generation.  As they decide what they want to do and when they wan to do it is more flexible now than it has been.  If beginning a career, finding the right mate, or starting a family are important, women have the option do decide that in any order.  Unlike 20+ years ago, when the order of these decisions were more rigid.  A truism 50 years ago and now is women with disposable income have more options to acquire the help and resources to create the lifestyle they want to live.
I am in the midst of reframing my life to create the lifestyle I want.   How about you?
Posted by: K. Delk AT 05:06 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, February 18 2013
I ran across this article and I want to share it with you because it is so true. 

"I think women should be just as ambitious as men, and be proud of it," fashion designer Tory Burch, who became a billionaire less than a decade after founding her eponymous company, recently told Stanford business school. She was talking specifically about entrepreneurship, but it applies to women and work in general.

For many women, easier said than done. "Ambition" is still a four-letter word. It's also a favorite subject for Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook COO whose new book, "Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead," is coming out next month. She's fond of citing research showing that 36% of women identify themselves as ambitious in the U.S., a far lower percentage than in countries including India, Brazil and China.

Ambition is about desiring more success for yourself-and maybe it's that little pronoun that gets in the way for so many women. Ambition is about you. You getting more money, more sales, more prominence, more applause. If just reading that list makes you feel a little icky, rest assured you're not alone. For generations, women have been taught that their lives aren't about them. They're about husbands, parents, children-almost everyone besides themselves.

When that little voice in your head starts saying, "Who do you think you are, to deserve more?" Feel free to retort: Who do you think you are, to say I don't?


  February 5,2013 Daily Worth
Karen encourages you to .....
Plan what you want for 2013, then work your plan.  You can do it!
Posted by: K. Delk AT 04:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, December 18 2012
You Inc., Market Yourself for Success
Do you want influence and recognition at work? Do you want to be to be success and advance your career? Do you want money in the bank and not live paycheck to paycheck? Do you want to live the life you desire? If you answered yes to any of these questions but you do not know how to get what you want, this article provides some useful tips.
Creating a vision of what you want is the first step because it sets direction.  
Keep it simple and straight forward, if you are a student the goal may be - I want a job post graduation or attend graduate school, if you are working it may be to advance your career or pursue your passion.  To start set your GPS to begin your journey.  As panelists, each of us shared our journey from law school, business marketing and human resources and what we needed was to gain experience and strong foundational skills.
Students and alums may not realize it but we gain excellent marketable skills when we take leadership roles, complete projects, collaborate with others in community work or create an event.  Leverage those transferable skills and begin to describe them so others know what you do and how you see yourself.  Theda describes herself as the Reconstruction expert.  She is an attorney and she helps people reconstruct their lives after divorce, bankrupcy or some other personal concern.
Social media is a great tool to personalize your image. Students have grown up utilizing social media casually and you can begin to shift to create a professional image and a brand.  Choose carefully what you post in picture and text, club photos with friends may not be appropriate as you begin interviewing for summer internships or full time positions.   Remove those pictures from public view.
Our first lady is recognized internationally for her healthy, playful and stylish look.  It is not too early to know what colors and styles make you look best.  It is not about size or body shape.  There are so many choices available to women now.  Conduct a color analysis with different color fabric swatches next to your skin to find those shades that make you look amazing. I did not know about this website but it shares photos of our fashion forward first lady.  Dress for Success when you are formally introducing yourself, first impressions matter. 
In networking, what do you say?  How do you describe your interest?  What do people want to know about you?  Begin by creating what we call an elevator speech.  It is 30 second summary of how to describe your interests and what you offer potential employers or organizations you want to connect to.
Life offers many twists and turns, learning to embrace unplanned life event is important as well.  If you face layoff, need to make a change, then seize the moment  by getting the help you need and be resourceful with books, tapes, and like minded friends. 
Plan what you want for 2013, then work your plan.  You can do it!
Posted by: K. Delk AT 05:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, November 18 2012
How are you planning to move your career forward in 2013?


 Are you thinking of creating personal goals for yourself in 2013?  Now is a great time to reflect on what you accomplished this year and spend time setting your direction, focus and concentration for next year.  Research has shown that people who plan and execute their plans achieve their goals.  Many of us create plans, we wish, hope and dream that our desires come true.
Planning is the first step but planning alone does not make your wishes, hopes and dreams come true.  You also must execute.


If you know where you are going and how to advance your career in 2013, you can identify an accountability partner, a buddy or friend, someone who will keep you on track. You can meet periodically to discuss your plans and the actions you have taken to implement those plans.  You will begin to see your goals come not only into focus but you will find time to devote to getting them done.  This is making real progress.


For many people, figuring out how to  advance your career is the real challenge. This is where an experienced coach can help.  A coach will work with you to keep you focused on your goals, and teach you techniques that enhance your skills and give you insight to turbo charge your career.  If you want to understand the cultural and political landscape of your organization,  a coach serves as your independent and confidential resource.
Individuals who advance in organizations quickly know the importance of leveraging resources both inside and outside the organization.  Mentors are important but can only go so far, a trained coach is skilled in helping you reach your goals and give you deeper insight into yourself. 
Consider your past efforts have gotten you where you are but if you desire more faster, a coach is essential. 
Posted by: K. Delk AT 04:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

About us

Karen Delk is CEO and President, Davis Delk Consulting an executive coaching, career development and management consulting firm.

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P.O.Box 31
Plainsboro, NJ 08536
Phone: 609.297.7219.

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