Helping you mobilise your inner resources to achieve your dreams

Change models and processes…and keeping your inner saboteur on his toes

Over the last few weeks I’ve spoken about ‘change’, and how best to approach it. Change is a necessary part of life, and though it may be scary to move away from the familiar, it helps us to progress and learn, to overcome obstacles, and to open ourselves up to new opportunities.

mind workingToday, I want to talk about our inner saboteurs – the voice in our heads that make us balk at the prospect of change. Though our saboteur’s aim appears to be one of protection, listening to his whispers and acting upon his deviating techniques could prove detrimental.

So, what does our inner saboteur say?

Let’s see…how many times have you made excuses for having that cream cake when on a diet, or splurging on that new pair of shoes or set of golf clubs in the midst of a cost-cutting drive? ‘I’m big boned; I’m surrounded by food all day; It was so-and-so’s birthday and they brought cake…’ or ‘They were half-price in the sale; The ones I use/wear now are on their last legs; I deserve them because I don’t have many holidays, etc.’

If you’re only committing to doing something half-heartedly you’re leaving the door open for your saboteur to stroll in – and when he does, we’re forced to justify our lack of mettle with excuses; it’s easier to blame him than accept any responsibility for not reaching our goal.

He can be silenced…

Imagine a time when you’ve felt really focused and disciplined. You may have weighed up the pros and cons of a decision and committed to attaining a result. The chances are, because you’d had an end goal in mind and felt really determined, you didn’t leave room for your inner saboteur to pop up…and it’s more than likely you completed the task easily and without drama.

Change models and psychometric tools, as we’ve discussed recently, help in this regard. By getting in the right mindset there’s little opportunity for your saboteur to strike, but even if he does rear his head models such as Prochaska’s (see last week’s post) expect old habits to slip back in at some point in the change process. Prochaska’s ‘maintenance’ step addresses the saboteur (our slipping back into old ways of working); this recognition stops us from giving up altogether. It shows us that the glimpse of our saboteur isn’t a sign the whole thing will fail but that it’s just a small blip on the road to success.

Without a change model in place, psychometric testing to evaluate or a process to follow, it’s very easy for us to become stuck when Mr. Saboteur pays a visit. Without focus, structure, planning or commitment, any change presented in the workplace is likely to be met with chaos, as everyone else’s saboteurs throw their hands up in horror at the prospect of little rest as they worry about our prospect of failure. (Our inner saboteurs fear change more than we do.)

How your saboteur works

Your saboteur even fears success, believing it safer to not try at all than to try and fail. He believes he’s saving you from future heartache – but what he’s really doing is holding you back.


The first step to changing anything is recognising that change is necessary in the first place – pre-warning your inner imp that things cannot continue the way they do. Whilst your saboteur will try and convince you that you’re wrong, and that everything’s fine as it is, successful change needs an objective, focused mind to evaluate what is and isn’t currently working. Considering where things can be improved and what already may be a success helps you – and your saboteur – to change only what’s needed.

Visualising necessary changes before they happen and mapping out their impact helps to calm the saboteur’s mind….See? It’s not so bad! By the time any change actually happens it’ll be easier for you to stay committed and focused, because your saboteur – though still protective and a little fearful – will have got used to how ‘change’ might look.

He will never love change, your saboteur, but having a change model and support in place can help him accept it without panic and his insistence that you run to the hills.

Our psychology can be the difference between successful change and ditched plans; accepting that our mindset is just as important a part of any change process as efficient systems or detailed plans helps its progress. Don’t let your inner saboteur get too comfy…

If you need help implementing changes within your team or workplace, or for more details of my management coaching, contact me on  01302 220221. I’ve enjoyed exploring the subject of change in this latest series of posts; please do add your feedback and let me know what you think.


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