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The Art Of Life Series: How To Ruin Your Own Success – A Beginner’s Guide

Both as a business/personal coach and as a department director I have come across with numerous people who have great potential, but who never truly succeed. Deep down this type of a person has low esteem and not enough respect for himself. There are numerous ways how he undermines his own success knowingly or unconsciously, of which the latter is more common. As the subject is quite heavy I wanted to write this article with a little humor and lightness.

We all have some tendency to self-sabotage. At times we all are like drunken monkeys, going one step forward and two steps back, sometimes going in deformed circles for a while. Some of us have more traits leading to self-sabotage than others. Some of the luckier ones have very few, but we all have them, there is no doubt about that. Well, maybe except Dalai Lama and other enlightened people.

Here are the most common ways to undermine your own success I have come across with. If you want to make sure you want to ruin your own happiness and not find the meaning of your own life, here are some pointers how to do it. However, I sincerely hope this article will inspire you to do the opposite.

Wasting energy

Doing a lot of different things at the same time is a guaranteed way to disperse your energy too much and eventually get nothing done. I have met too many people who are working on several great plans with wonderful goals they are trying to achieve at the same time, or many jobs they are trying to do at the same time to make sure they would succeed at least in something. As a result, they never get anywhere. And the worst part is they do not understand why. They only see and feel how much time and effort they put into all that, and yet nothing seemed to work for them.


Expecting great results with minimum effort is a guaranteed recipe for failure. If you want something you need to work for it. The bigger your goal is the harder you need to work. So, if you are ambitious and lazy you will always be an unhappy bunny.


You know exactly what you need to do, but still won’t do it. Like Garfield says: “Diets always start tomorrow”. The road to failure is paved with good intention and very little action.

Not knowing who you are

If you do not know who you are, what you are and what your strengths and weaknesses are, it is very hard to find a meaning in your own life. Instead, you are drifting from one thing to another and not getting anywhere with your life.

The guaranteed way to a failure is to think too much of yourself, having no goals or wrong ones and never revising your views on life. If you recognize yourself from this and you feel this is what you want, keep up with the good work of not getting a meaningful result, ever.

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Not having a clear vision of the path to success

You are ambitious, and lucky enough to know what you want, but lack the clear idea of how to reach your goal. If you want to make sure that you will not fulfill your dreams, the best way to do this is not to have a clear vision of where you are going, when and how. Plans are for successful people!

Not following the plan

I case you have ticked the boxes of being ambitious and having a great plan, but you want to guarantee your failure in a very simple way, this is how to do it: do not stick to the plan. You have spent a lot of time and energy on planning carefully, but instead of sticking to the plan with determination you do something else, preferably you do nothing at all.

Reflect blame

If you never want to succeed, do not take responsibility for yourself. Instead, reflect your own inadequacy to somewhere or someone else and keep blaming everything else, but yourself. For example, in sales, the cycle is following:

A newbie starts very eager, usually very confident about her abilities. Very often she succeeds at first, but as in everything in life, there will be a time when things do not go as planned. This causes a personal crisis, which either makes or breaks the salesperson. A good salesperson will rise like a Fenix from the ashes. She takes a careful look at herself, finds out where she has gone wrong, gets a grip and starts selling again – probably even better than before.

However, the person seeking failure will start blaming everything and everyone else – except herself obviously. Suddenly the list of prospects is bad, her project is bad, there is something wrong with the working environment, etc. The list is endless. This in turn, will lead to ongoing requests of new projects where she will fail consistently. The next step, or sometimes also the first step after the first downfall, is to seek a new job. This type of person will go from one work place to another continuing her vicious cycle, because of her inability to take responsibility of her own thought patterns, emotions and actions.

Not taking care of oneself

If not having a successful life is your goal, it is very helpful not to take care of yourself. The inability to take care of oneself leads to low energy levels and makes it very difficult to work efficiently and hence succeed in one’s work.

There are several ways to do this. For example, when the stress is too much to a person instead of exercising and getting the stress out of his system, he tries to numb it by drinking too much alcohol using drugs or smoking cigarettes. Or when he is feeling down or unenergetic he will comfort-eat, gorging unhealthy food instead of consuming foods that gives him energy. He will probably also try to distract himself form the situation by staying up too late watching TV or spending time on the computer.

Make everyone else pay for your mistakes

Last, but not least, to guarantee one’s failure in reaching life goals and not being successful is to make everyone else pay for your own misery. This is how it is usually done:

With the inability to take responsibility for a person’s own success, she doesn’t have the capacity to deal with her own emotions and she will make everyone around her pay for her own misery she has created solely herself. She is complaining constantly and making other people doubt the meaningfulness of their projects, especially when they share the same project with her. At worst she will start poisoning the whole work atmosphere with lies, turning people against each other, against the management or the whole company. She takes every opportunity to sabotage a supportive atmosphere where she cannot succeed so other’s couldn’t either.

Hopefully these tips have created a need to revise your own thought, emotional and behavior patterns to create a happier and more successful life for yourself. We all make mistakes and we all have bad tendencies. What makes us or breaks us is how we constantly change for the better.



© Maaret Auvinen 2018

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