11 Ways To Tame Your Inner Saboteur and Go After Your Dream Job

young woman  woman leaned against glass wall in crisis moment

“I don’t have what it takes to land my dream role…”

“I’m not smart enough to be in that line of work.”

“I don’t have enough confidence to go after that job.”

“I’ll never be able to make it in that industry.”

“I’ll let my family down if I try to go after that dream role.”

“I’ll fail if I attempt to make that career pivot.”

“Who am I to go after that type of role?”

Sound familiar?

Allow me to introduce you to your “inner saboteur.” 

He’s your inner critic that tells you, in one way or another, that YOU are NOT good enough…. creating a feeling of inadequacy.

The inner saboteur’s job is to keep you safe and small.

This voice preys on your deep fears and frames outcomes as worst-case scenarios.

It’s impossible to crush this voice completely so don’t kill yourself trying to.

The solution to taming your inner saboteur is simply to develop a new relationship with it.

Answer this:

What is the one sentence inner saboteur message about yourself…. that is holding you back from your dream career?


1. Awareness

The first and most important step is to bring your inner-saboteur to the surface. Unmask him.

Most people don’t even realize they HAVE a saboteur.  

They just automatically believe the inner saboteur voice to be THEIR voice and accept it as real.

Your saboteur voice may sound like:

  • Disguised “rationalism”
  • Over-generalizations
  • Jumping to conclusions or worst case scenarios
  • Words like “always” or “never”

Your saboteur voice may look like:

  • Avoidance (even when you know what to do.)
  • Confusion
  • Procrastination
  • Lack of action altogether
  • Behaving in a way that UNDERMINES acheiving your dream job.

Familiarize yourself with your inner-saboteur.

How does she operate?

What are her usual list of excuses? Her favorite sayings?

What does her voice sound like? Is it your voice? Is it someone from your past?

Before you can tame her…. You need to be able to spot her.

Once you notice her…. Don’t judge or react to the voice. Observe it with curiosity.

Simply nod, smile, and state out loud, “I see you.”

2. Create Separation

The easiest way to create separation from your inner-saboteur is to name him.

Sounds odd, I know. But it’s easier to tame him once you view him and refer to him as a separate entity.

Once you separate yourself… you create freedom. You allow room for your authentic self, your hopes & dreams to take the reins. 

You focus on the present versus the past.

So give him a name.

3. Identify His Origin

Think back…. As far back as you can remember….

When might this little guy have been created?

Please don’t blow over this simple yet powerful question.  

Shut your computer, turn off your phone, close your eyes and try to imagine the FIRST time you thought this thought…. felt this way….. heard this voice.

4. Recognize His Purpose

Each saboteur was created for a specific purpose.  

At one time in your life perhaps when you were vulnerable, scared, didn’t want to be embarrassed or hurt… the gremlin appeared to PROTECT YOU.  

Like a misinformed helicopter parent, he was initially created with good intentions.

He showed up because he wanted to keep you safe, shield you from judgement or failure.

For this reason…. you want to show compassion for your inner-saboteur.  

The problem of course, is that NOW this message has become a conditioned or trained response that is no longer serving you.

Now this message is limiting your freedom of choice and ability to go after your dream job.

The voice might have originated from your childhood, a traumatic event, or society in general.

Perhaps you grew up in a culture that required you to get straight A’s…. you never felt smart enough. Now you hold yourself back from going after a challenging role, because you don’t want to chance imperfection.

Perhaps you moved to a new town at a young age and had a hard time making friends… Now you refuse to transition to a new company where you will have to forge new relationships.

Perhaps you grew up being told “children should be seen and not heard” or “follow the rules.”  Now when you show up to interviews…. You struggle to find your voice.

Or perhaps simply at some point you decided…. “I never want to feel THAT way again… so from now on I will {fill in the blank.}”

Your inner saboteur is running on a very old program that is stuck on repeat.

Ask yourself….

  • Why is your inner-saboteur here today?
  • What purpose is he trying to serve by holding you back?
  • How might he be trying to protect you?

5. Triggers

Now get a little more specific.

What do you think triggers your saboteur in situations related to holding you back from going after your dream career?

When does he scream the loudest?

As you go about your week…. Pay attention and write down the patterns…. What are you doing/thinking/saying when he gets triggered?

6. Recycle That Energy

Energy cannot be created or destroyed.

The same thing goes for the energy of your inner-saboteur.

But since this kind of protection is no longer serving you and is in fact holding you back…. You must determine how else you’d like to use the inner saboteur’s energy.

Assign him a new job. It can be related to your career goal or to something else entirely.

Remember…. He had good intent once upon a time. He’s only here to help.

So come up with a way for him to help you in the present day, something that will now SERVE you.

I’ve heard some clients assign their inner-saboteur a job to:

  • Become their biggest cheerleader
  • Instead of focusing on worst case scenarios, get to work creating a budget or Plan B.
  • Protect them in new and creative (and helpful) ways.

7. Thank and Release

Imagine taking the little guy out for a cup of coffee.  

Hear him. Acknowledge and validate him (like you would another human). 

Thank him for trying to protect you. 

Saboteurs truly just want to be heard and appreciated.

Then they can quit sounding the alarms so loudly.

Let him know he isn’t needed to hold you back anymore. That you can handle it from here.

Now answer the following…..

What would have to happen to have you let go of the inner saboteur voice today?

8. Put It Into Practice

Moving forward…. It’s important you put this work into practice.

This is not a “one-and-done” kind of deal.

Continue to pay close attention to your thoughts. Call out your saboteur when you hear him. Track the situations where he appears.

Now that YOU’RE in charge…. challenge the voice.

Question it. 

Fact-check it. 

Find flaws in its reasoning. Cite previous examples where his statement didn’t hold true for you.

9. Plan ahead

Create a plan of action to go after your dream role ahead of time and then stick to it no matter what.

Time block your action items straight into your calendar as if it were the most important appointment in the world (it is!!!)

Buy a ticket to go to a networking event.

Email your contacts at your dream company and invite them out to coffee.

Make a complimentary coaching call appointment with a career coach.

Get an accountability partner or coach to hold you to what you said you are going to do.

10. Focus on something bigger than yourself

It’s easy to cop out on something when it’s only about you.

How might achieving your dream job be serving the world at large?

How might you be solving someone else’s pain point? Or contributing to that person’s life in a meaningful way?

How might achieving your dream career be ultimately supporting your family?

How might you be robbing the world of your gift by listening to your saboteur voice?

When it’s not all about you…. The saboteur voice gets quieter.

11. Celebrate wins

Don’t wait to celebrate until you get the dream job.

Celebrate all the small wins that got you there.

Celebrate every single time you hear the saboteur’s voice and say outloud, “Not today, my friend.” 

When you felt the fear…. But executed each small action step anyways.  

When in the past you would have procrastinated…. But today you honored your promise to yourself.

Who knows…. If you make friends with your inner-sabotuer… perhaps you can give him a party hat and invite him to celebrate along with you.


Start the discovery process to uncover what your dream career truly is.

CLICK HERE to download your Free Surefire Guide to Finding Your Passion.

Let’s do this.

Betty Kempa, CPC, ELI-MP, is an executive career coach helping mid to senior-level corporate women transition out of unfulfilling jobs and into their dream careers. 



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