10 Behaviors That May Signal You Are Guilty Of Shooting Yourself In The Foot


If the question were asked, “Who is your worst enemy?", some of us wouldn't have to look any further than the mirror. “You are your own worst enemy" is a maxim for a reason. Many of us have developed self-sabotage habits we don't even realize are short-circuiting our own lives and goals.

When one reaches a "certain age," as I have (in my 60's), it's becoming a lot easier to spot some behaviors so obviously destructive for the actors. While I've been guilty of many of these things earlier in my own life, I now have a much clearer perspective on how your own actions will often prevent you from reaching your life's goals. See if any of the points below resonate with you:

1. You're Not Setting Long-Term Goals For Yourself

You wouldn't get on a train unless you had a destination, would you? So why let your life move along with no direction? Sure, goals can change, and it's okay if they do, but if you start out aimlessly wandering through your career and personal life, it can often lead to a less than happy result. Cruises to nowhere might be fun, but not when you're cruising to your future. If you don't plan and visualize your future, you may be leaving it entirely to chance.

2. You're Not Running Your Own Race

Do you know why horses wear blinders? Because they get distracted by things either in their side or rear views (their eyes are on the sides of their heads) and lose sight of where they're headed, whether racing or working. While your eyes are conveniently positioned in the front of your face, it doesn't stop you from being distracted from your goals when you begin comparing yourself with those around you. Negative self-talk: “Let's see. She' s my age and already vice president at her company", or “She's already married with a house and two children and I don't even have a significant other." So what? Maybe your life is taking a different path. After all, we don't all desire the same things. So, put on your metaphorical blinders and live your life for you, and you won't be tempted to relinquish your own goals and stray from the path you really desire!

3. You're Basing Your Career Choices On Salary Alone

Don't make salary your only benchmark for success. Unless your one and only goal in life is to live on Fifth Avenue and dine at Masa several times a week, look at the whole picture before you jump into a position. If being wealthy is your only goal, then go for it, but be aware that you may have to make a trade-off and abandon your own passion. Sometimes you can have both, but that scenario is a little rare.

A friend of mine took a “dream job" with a famous designer. She had to be on call 24/7 and was expected to jump when asked and then her only question could be “how high?"

4. You Don't Know “When To Hold 'Em And When To Fold 'Em"

While this is a well-known poker phrase, it's relevant for life too. Sometimes you take a job for the long haul, such as a start-up. Maybe you'll take a job with a company in the early stages of an enterprise, and you must be prepared to be in it a while before you see the spoils of your labor. I'll bet those that joined Marian Ilitch early on are glad they stuck with it. (She and her husband founded Little Caeser Pizza. She now ranks tops on Forbes' richest self-made women list.) The same goes for those who took a chance with Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, etc. But just as any financial advisor will tell you: “Some holdings are for long-term goals. Others are for a quick turn-around." Learn to spot the difference.

If you see great things from the entrepreneur you're working with, stay with it. You may be on the ground floor of a major success. However, if you see your boss losing momentum after a certain amount of time, maybe it's time to consider moving on. If you've gone as far as you can in your job at a well-established company, talk to your boss, and if there's no room for further growth, decide if you like your job well enough to stay in it for 20 more years or you want to spread your wings.

The same holds true for your personal life and relationships. Case in point: my dear brother was engaged for 14 years! Yup, that's right. He was never ready to take that final step. Unfortunately, his fiancé didn't get it and she hung in there. When she finally broke it off, he quickly met someone else, moved in and was married before the door closed on his ex. Dragging one's feet isn't the only sign your relationship isn't going anywhere, but I think we'll sometimes close our eyes to the obvious signs. If marriage and a family are what you want in your future, you shouldn't spend all your time with someone who eschews this lifestyle. And if settling down isn't on your long-term menu, don't spend too much time with someone whose goal it is.

5. You Are Using Booze Or Food As Rewards Or To Fill That Empty Spot In Your Life

All of us need perks and positive things in our lives. But you must be aware that booze is a very short-term fix—as is food. The consequences of both can be drastic.

Have you ever wasted an entire Saturday or Sunday trying to get over a severe hangover from drinking way too much the night before? A beautiful day can be wasted because of a couple of hours of “fun" drinking. While I'm far from calling for a revival of Prohibition, we must start self-moderating instead of self-sabotaging! If drinking has become your only go-to way to enjoy your weekends, it may be time to reexamine your social life.

The same goes for over-eating. Is an extra appetizer and dessert a reward for your week of hard work? Do you waive your usual selectivity and order anything you want regardless of its unhealthfulness? Uh Oh…shouldn't there be a way to celebrate that's more meaningful and less injurious to your health? While most of us need these splurges—both food and drink—occasionally, when it becomes a little too frequent, you are sabotaging yourself.

6. You're Becoming Obsessed With Tinder And Other Dating Sites

Granted, dating sites offer a way to substantially increase your access to dating partners. However, when talking with some of my younger friends, I'm noticing there's an over-abundance of dependence on meeting people on social media alone. But guess what? People did manage to meet and even marry before Match.com was even a gleam in a computer nerd's eye! Shouldn't online dating be more of an adjunct than the primary way of meeting people? Have we forgotten the art of socializing in person?

Another negative side effect of online dating is it often becomes a constant search for someone better. You might come home from a date and quickly go online to see if you've had any hits before you give a chance to the one you just left.

There are few perfect people out there (including you) so why not date one at a time, explore the possibilities, and move on from there. Failure to live up to an online version of one's self, half created by you and half by the other participant, can cause a disappointing meeting. While his description of himself didn't include his awkwardness or crazy laugh, you might be able to overlook these points if you hadn't imagined him to be some knock-out George Clooney type.

7. You've Fallen Into The Designers Only Trap

Having some basic good quality, well-tailored pieces in your wardrobe is a must. But, unless you're already rolling in the bucks, however, it isn't necessary to have high-end labels on every item in your wardrobe. By now, you must have developed taste and style of your own, so why not experiment with accessories at first, and try out a few discount stores and thrift shops. You'll not only save on currency, but you may find some unique items to supplement your wardrobe. Become familiar with this type of store and you'll soon find you develop an eye for finding pieces that will individualize your look.

You'd be surprised how some of these finds can fool people. I worked in a fashion company for the creative director who wore under-suit tank tops that cost $100. While these were expensed to the company as part of her wardrobe allowance, they didn't last any longer than a much less expensive version. I remember one time I wore a dress to work and threw a $3.99 see-through bolero over it. My boss raved about it and asked where I bought it. I think she was a little embarrassed when I told her it was from a little deep discount store on 34th Street!

8. You Buy Into The Habit Of Living With Labels That No Longer Describe You

So maybe you were a little “ditsy" in elementary school and your friends always referred to you as such. However lovingly it was meant back then, it doesn't mean you still identify with that label. While you might have been the class clown and you have a great sense of humor still, it doesn't mean you must regale your friends with a comedy act even when you're feeling down.

You can adjust the images people have of you by acting a little differently than you have done. This doesn't mean you're going to be phony now, it just means you should be aware if you're always behaving as everyone expects.

9. You Haven't Expanded Your Stable Of Friends

There's nothing like talking on the phone for hours with your BFF, or visiting during the year whenever you can when they're in a different location. Having a shared history with someone, whether from high school, college days, or former jobs is so comforting, especially when you're going through stressful or exciting times. Don't rely on those few trusted friends to be your only source of camaraderie though. New friends can offer new perspectives and networks to your life. Maybe next time your BFF is in town you can bring everyone together.

10. Your Picture Should Be In The Dictionary Under "Procrastination"

The last and one of the deadliest signals that you are sabotaging yourself is you are always procrastinating. Guilty! That's something I struggle with, and writing this article is no exception. Starting with book reports in grade school to not doing my wash until I can't close my hamper, I have the habit of putting things off until tomorrow. I am always working hard to change this and have made some improvement, but I still have a way to go. The adage, “Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today" should be etched on my own walls. If you find this a problem for you, let changing it be a priority!

This article was first published 9/17

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Choosing the Right Corporate Structure: Which Business Entity Should You Go With?

Business entities can be defined as the corporate, tax and legal structures which an organization chooses to officially follow at the time of its official registration with the state authorities. In total, there are fifteen different types of business entities, which would be the following.

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Partnership or LP
  • Limited Liability Partnership or LLP
  • Limited Liability Limited Partnership or LLLP
  • Limited Liability Company or LLC
  • Professional LLC
  • Professional Corporation
  • B-Corporation
  • C-Corporation
  • S-Corporation
  • Nonprofit Organization
  • Estate
  • Cooperative Organization
  • Municipality

As estates, municipalities and nonprofits do not concern the main topic here, the following discussions will exclude the three.

Importance of the State: The Same Corporate Structure Will Vary from State to State

All organizations must register themselves as entities at the state level in United States, so the rules and regulations governing them differ quite a bit, based on the state in question.

What this means is that a Texas LLC for example will not operate under the same rules and regulations as an LLC registered in New York. Also, an LLC in Texas can have the same name as another company that is registered in a different state, but it's not advisable given how difficult it could become in the future while filing for patents.

To know more about such quirks and step-by-step instructions on how to start an LLC in Texas, visit howtostartanllc.com, and you could get started with the online process immediately. The information and services on the website are not just limited to Texas LLC organizations either, but they have a dedicated page for guiding fresh entrepreneurs through the corporate tax structures in every state.

Sole Proprietorship: Default for Freelancers and Consultants

There is only one owner or head in a sole proprietorship, and that's what makes it ideal for one-man businesses that deal with freelance work and consulting services. Single man sole proprietorships are automatic in nature, therefore, registration with the state is unnecessary.

Sole proprietorships are also suited to a degree for singular teams such as a small construction crew, a group of handymen, or even miniature establishments in retail. Also, this puts the owner's personal financial status at jeopardy.

Due to the fact that a sole proprietorship entity puts all responsibilities for paying taxes and returning loans, it directly jeopardizes the sole proprietor's personal belongings in case of a lawsuit, or even after a failed loan repayment.

This is the main reason why even the most miniature establishments find LLCs to be a better option, but this is not the only reason either. Sole proprietors also find it hard to start their business credit or even get significant business loans.

General Partnership: Equal Responsibilities

The only significant difference between a General Partnership and a Sole Proprietorship is the fact that two or more owners share responsibilities and liabilities equally in a General Partnership, as opposed to there being only one responsible and liable party in the latter. Other than that, they more or less share the same pros and cons.

Registration with the state is not necessary in most cases, and although it still puts the finances of the business owners at risk here, the partnership divides the liability, making it a slightly better option than sole proprietorship for small teams of skilled workers or even small restaurants and such.

Limited Partnership: Active and Investing Partners

A Limited Partnership (LP) has to be registered with a state and whether it has just two or more partners, there are two different types of partners in all LP establishments.

The active partner or the general partner is the one who is responsible and liable for operating the business in its entirety. The silent or investing partner, on the other hand, is the one who invests funds or other resources into the organization. The latter has very limited liability or control over the company's operations.

It's a perfect way for investors to put their money into a sector that they are personally not experienced with, but have access to people who do. From the perspective of the general partners, they have similar responsibilities and liabilities to those in a general partnership.

It's the default strategy for startups to find funding and as long as the idea is sound, it has made way for multiple successful entrepreneurial ventures in the recent past. However, personal liability still looms as a dangerous prospect for the active partners to consider.

Limited Liability Company and Professional LLC

Small businesses have no better entity structure to follow than the LLC, given that it takes multiple good ideas from various corporate structures, virtually eliminating most cons that are inherent to them. Any and all small businesses that are in a position to or are in requirement of signing up with their respective state, usually choose an LLC entity because of the following reasons:

  • It removes the dangerous aspect of personal liability if the business falls in debt or is sued for reparations
  • The state offers the choice of choosing between corporation and partnership tax slabs
  • The limited legalities and paperwork make it suited for small businesses

While more expensive than a general partnership or a sole proprietorship, a professional LLC is going to be a much safer choice for freelancers and consultants, especially if it involves risk of any kind. This makes it ideal for even single man businesses such a physician's practice or the consultancy services of an accountant.

B, C and S-Corporation

By definition, all corporation entities share most of the same attributes and as the term suggests, they're more suited for larger or at least medium sized businesses in any sector. The differences between the three are vast once you delve into the tax structures which govern each entity.

However, the basic differences can be observed by simply taking a look at each of their definitive descriptions, as stated below.

C-Corporation – This is the default corporate entity for large or medium-large businesses, complete with a board of directors, a CEO/CEOs, other executive officers and shareholders.

The shareholders or owners are not liable for debts or legal dispute settlements in a C-Corporation, and they may qualify for lower tax slabs than is possible in any other corporate structure. On becoming big enough, they also have the option to become a publicly traded company, which is ideal for generating growth investments.

B- Corporation – the same rules apply as a C-Corporation, but due to their registered and certified commitment to social and environmental standards maintenance, B-Corporations will have a more lenient tax structure to deal with.

S-Corporation – Almost identical to a C-Corporation, the difference is in scale, as S-Corporations are only meant for small businesses, general partnerships and even sole proprietors. The main difference here is that due to the creation of a pass-through entity, aka a S-Corporation, the owner/owners do not have liability for business debt and legal disputes. They also are not taxed on the corporate slab.

Cooperative: Limited Application

A cooperation structure in most cases is a voluntary partnership of limited responsibilities that binds people in mutual interest - it is an inefficient structure due to the voluntary nature of its legal bindings, which often makes it unsuitable for traditional business operations. Nevertheless, the limited liability clause exempts all members of a cooperative from having personal liability for paying debts and settling claims.

This should clear up most of the confusion surrounding the core concepts and their suitability. In case you are wondering why the Professional Corporation structure wasn't mentioned, then that's because it has very limited applications. Meant for self-employed, skilled professionals or small organizations founded by them, they have less appeal now in comparison to an LLC or an S-Corporation.