Sneaky Saboteurs: 3 Common Thoughts That Might Be Keeping You Stuck

Alexis Haselberger
4 min readJan 31, 2023
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Sometimes, you get in your own way. You don’t intend to. It’s not your goal. But it happens anyway.

And there are 3 mindsets that I see pop up over and over in my students and clients that contribute to this. These mindsets tend to slow progress and can contribute to delays in getting started.

And I want to share these with you in case you might see yourself in any of them as well.

Because the good thing about a problematic mindset is that it can be changed.

So, what are they?

1 — All or Nothing

All or nothing thinking is common and it can really throw you for a loop.

Here are some ways it shows up:

  • “I was trying to eat healthy, but I messed up and ate a piece of pizza, so I guess I’ll eat the whole pie now.”
  • “I don’t have time for a 90 minute workout at the gym, so I guess I can’t exercise today.”
  • “This project will take 3 hours, and I don’t have 3 hours today, so I’ll just have to postpone starting.”

Have you ever said/done any of those things? (I’m certainly not judging!)

What if instead you gave yourself some grace and compassion?

  • What if when you ate that pizza, you stopped at one slice, or maybe 2?
  • What if you did a 20 minute run outside your house instead of 90 minutes at the gym?
  • What if you work on that project for an hour, at least getting started (or even just 20 minutes)?

In all instances, wouldn’t you then be in a better place?

2 — Now or Never

“If I don’t do it now, it’s never going to happen.” I hear this all the time.

Most of my clients, when we start working together, are working with a planning horizon of 1 day, maybe 2 days, max.

It’s happening today, or tomorrow, or it’s not happening.

But here’s the thing: You can’t do it all today and tomorrow. There’s too much to do.

And when you try to shove it all in, you fail, because you’ve giving yourself an impossible task. You’re setting yourself up for failure, literally.

Now, I get it. If you’re trying to rely on memory alone, you’re just trying to keep all those balls in the air. If it’s not top of mind, it’s gone. Or it’s coming back at the wrong time, or too late.

That’s why we need systems.

You can only do one thing “now”, but, as luck would have it, life is a succession of “nows”.

So planning for those eventual nows, instead of expecting yourself to do everything, everywhere, all at once (sorry, I couldn’t’ resist it; that’s one of my favorite movies of all time!) is a losing game.

Using a system to track what you need to do, over time, allows you to free up your mind to focus on the task at hand, without your brain constantly slingshotting reminders back into your brain at inopportune moments.

You can increase your sense of control over your time by increasing your planning horizon.

Once you release yourself from “now or never”, I promise your anxiety will lift as well!

3 — Perfect or Not worth it

How many times have you thought: “I’d love to try X, but I’m afraid I won’t be good at it”? While you’re not telling yourself directly that you expect perfection, the subtext is there. If you can’t do something perfectly, why do it at all, right?


There’s no such thing as perfect. It doesn’t exist. You can’t reach the platonic ideal. And to attempt it would therefore likely be a waste of time anyway.

Here’s what i often tell my clients: The amount of time it take to get from 0%-90% is the same as the time that it takes to get from 90%-100%. But the only one who notices the difference is you!

And when that happens, do you feel like it was time well spent to get to 100%? The answer is usually no.

Now, the fallacy of perfection is not exactly a new insight. But, it’s certainly one that still plagues a lot of us. Heck, there are even lots of great adages on the same topic. A couple of my faborites are:

  • “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”
  • “Done is better than perfect”

Perfection? It’s a losing game.

Excellence? That’s another story.

Excellence is achievable.

But when you don’t start, or when you delay because you’re afraid it won’t be perfect, the only person you’re hurting is yourself. Because the circumstances for prefection will never arrive.

And if you’re going to excellent, then you might want to give yourself a bit more time to give yourself the best shot.

Are there any other mindsets that you find are holding you back?

My program, Time Well Spent: Time Management for Real People, is enrolling now. And in this program, we move beyond these mindsets so that you can stop procrastinating and start using your time in service of your own goals and values. You’ll learn to make time for the things that matter to you and to push through the mindsets that hold you back. And if that sounds a little too woowoo for you, don’t worry, because 100% of the lessons are tactical, practical strategies to help you do more and stress less.

Join us and enroll today! More info at

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Originally published at on January 31, 2023.