Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?
Fear of feedback
Most people avoid feedback because they hate being criticized. "But if
you don't get feedback, you have no idea what you're doing wrong," explains
Dr. Jackman. "You become your own worst enemy because you persist in the
same destructive behaviors."
What to do:
If you're concerned about something personal, reach out to your friends;
they can act as a sounding board. You don't necessarily have to spend hours
with them: Sometimes, firing off an e-mail asking for an opinion is enough. And
if it's a problem at work—you were passed over for a promotion (again) or are
not included in a project you'd asked to be a part of—talk to a trusted
colleague. She can help you figure out if you're somehow at fault.
Putting things off undermines your chances of succeeding—it's a way of
setting yourself up for failure. "You left something to the very last
minute, so there's no way you'll do as good a job as if you'd tackled it
earlier, when you had more time," explains Curtis. Procrastinators tend to
be less healthy and make less money than those who tackle problems and projects
straight on, reports a review published in January 2007 in the journal
Psychological Bulletin .
What to do:
If you're procrastinating because you're overwhelmed, try breaking down each
task into smaller parts and focusing on one at a time. Carlene LeBlanc, 40, a
contractor in Canton, LA, felt completely at sea when she lost her customer
service job in March of last year. At first, the only work she could find was
at a fast-food restaurant. Then she heard about another opportunity—but it
required contractor's certifications. "I kept thinking, There's no way I
can do all this," she says. "But I realized that my attitude was
sabotaging me. So I broke up what I had to do into smaller goals. I set the bar
low and kept raising it bit by bit until I got the certifications."
Dr. Jackman and Strober also found that people who give themselves rewards
for their achievements are less likely to engage in negative behavior like
procrastination. "The reward can be as small as a manicure," says
Strober. "It's your way of patting yourself on the back for positive
And when the occasion warrants, treat yourself like a queen. When Lisa
Grossman, 36, decided to go back to school to become a teacher, she rewarded
herself after every exam period with a romantic dinner with her husband.
"Knowing I had that to look forward to made the late-night studying much
more palatable," she says. After three long years of going to school,
interning, and continuing to work two days a week at her old job, her efforts
paid off: She starts teaching her first class of high school math in the