There are plenty of aggravations these days that are out of your control. The effects of the economy, and other people’s flaws are obvious examples.

But for many of the problems that eat up your time and energy, you may have a hand in causing them yourself. This is not blame, this is good news! That means you can quickly do YOUR part to have more success with less stress.

Think of a chronic frustration or an acute challenge you are facing. Ask yourself if you are ‘causing’ it in any of these ways:

1. Your lack of clarity at the beginning sets up problems downstream. For a recent speech I had to write, I didn’t get a clear idea of the topic from the organization and I allowed myself to start without a clear idea of what I wanted to say. I ended up writing 3 drafts of it until I became clear, wasting a lot of my time and energy. It would have been better to require myself and the organization to be clear before I started.

2. You create problems in your mind that don’t exist objectively. Kathy is a senior woman in a global consulting firm. She came to me when she couldn’t leave work behind, didn’t go for a bigger position, and didn’t have balance in her life. Even though in reality she has an intimidating boss, high-stakes projects, and upcoming reorganizations, objectively speaking she is fairly secure in her position and well liked. It’s only in her mind that she believes her self-criticism is justified, and that she could be fired suddenly. Because of these fears she overworked and could rarely be ‘off’ from work. She came to understand that her whole behavior pattern was set up to not re-experience the pain and hardship she faced when her Dad abandoned the family early on. When she connected the dots she saw that her fears about others’ judgments weren’t objective and developed a realistically positive evaluation of herself. She learned to speak confidently to her boss about expanding her role, and each day she leaves feeling that she’s done ‘enough’ and sleeps well through the night.

3. You weren’t aware of the root cause of earlier forms of the problem, or chose to pursue only band-aid solutions, and now the problem is much worse. A business owner recently came to work with me, he is wicked smart yet overwhelmed with work and earning 40% less than he wants to. At first he thought it was a staffing issue and brought in a consultant to find the right people. He thought it was a time management issue, and set up schedules. He entered a business coaching program to grow his business. Together they helped just a little bit, but still he was miserable. What was the real culprit in his problem? Early in our coaching, he discovered he was creating the chaos because of his deep belief that he isn’t worthy of success. So first order of business was getting rid of his negative voice. Now that he believes in his worth, our efforts to get the right people in place and manage time better are finally paying off — in the form of more money and more time!

What are your ideas about how you might be ‘causing’ your problem?

What ‘story’ are you making up that isn’t objectively true?

In what situation in your life are you ignoring early warning signs of a bigger problem, or settling for band-aid solutions that don’t get at the root cause?

If you have a vague idea you are causing your problems but don’t know how to fix it, simply email us at and we will schedule a brief consultation. I will tell you exactly what you need to do to end creating your own problems and instead start creating your success and happiness. My online programs and coaching packages personally guarantee you will ‘get out of your own way’ and get the result you came to me for.

Author's Bio: 

Sharon Melnick, Ph.D. is a business psychologist dedicated to helping talented and successful businesspeople ‘get out of their own way’. Her practical tools are informed by 10 years of research at Harvard Medical School, field tested by over 3000 training participants and applied by hundreds of coaching clients to quickly be more effective, productive, and influential. She is a leading authority in helping business professionals move to the next level and be secure about their contribution in insecure times. /