Why Do I Do It?! 3 Ways I Self-Sabotage At Work

Casey Mazzotti

March 21, 2021

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I close my laptop following another Zoom meeting where I made little contribution. *sigh* I kick myself for not speaking up and sharing my honest thoughts and instead crack a half-smile and almost violently nod or shake my head to appear expressive in my smaller-than-life Zoom window.

"Why do I do it?", I think to myself. Getting in my own head is just one of the ways in which I sabotage myself while at work. It's a feeling akin to saying "you too!" when the waiter tells you to enjoy your meal.

How else do I sabotage myself at work?

Here are a few off the top of my head:

1) I Apologize....A Lot

"Sorry I'm late!"

"I've been overwhelmed lately, sorry about that!"


I'm apologizing for everything and nothing all at once; I offer myself up as the wrong-doer time and time again. Why?! Force of habit? Imposter syndrome? Peacekeeper mentality gone awry? It's hard to say, but I work to break the vicious cycle of over-apologizing - instead, I try to say,

"Thanks for waiting!"

"I've got a lot on my plate, I'm not sure I can take on anything else right now."

"Great catch, I'll get right on that!"

Maybe it's not so hard after all to avoid erroneously placing blame on myself.

2) I'm A Perfectionist...No, Seriously

Flashback to that Zoom meeting in which I contributed nothing of value - am I valueless? No! I am value-full, but it only appears in glimpses and flashes as far as my coworkers and managers are concerned.

Why don't I speak up more? I have great ideas! But they're not perfect - they're never fully baked out, and I always forget to spend an extra 100 hours outside of working hours to perfect my plans before bringing them to management.

I tell myself it's not exactly right, so it must be wrong. Even though I know that's not true!

Could it be that my insatiable desire to be perfect is actually...bad...for me? It's a slow, cascading realization - and once I know it, I can't possibly un-know it.

As they say, "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good enough"! Wise words.

3) I Over-analyze and Second-guess

I make it through another week, and finally - the weekend has arrived! Time to relax and unwi...uh, oh...

"Remember when you shared your screen and your bookmarks accidentally popped up? Pretty sure everyone saw your 'Copycat Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Recipe' that you saved 6 years ago.

Also, you said 'Great!' when your manager was talking about company losses."

Now that one sentence on that one day in those thirty seconds is on repeat for the entire weekend. I replay scenario after scenario, weird mannerism after weird mannerism, and I wonder what exactly I could have said or done differently.

"Should I have said that?" "What else could I have said?" "Was that a bad suggestion?"

Sometimes it's good to reflect, but not every time! Actually, I think I'm the only person who even remembers, let alone cares about, that one dumb thing I might've said that one time.

Confidence is key - just stating ideas with confidence makes me feel better about it, and "letting go of being right every time makes it okay to be wrong sometimes." I tell myself through gritted teeth.


In feeding these worries and anxieties, I'm doing nothing but sabotaging my own success. I have to ask myself, "Do I even want to be successful?" Because if I do, I'm not helping myself get there.

Over-worrying, second-guessing, over-apologizing, attaining "perfection"... These are actually ways I trip over myself on my path to success, but at least I know it! That's half the battle. The other half is breaking those habits and building new ones - bring down the apologies and dial up the confidence.

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