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10 Common but Toxic Career Habits You Need to Break

10 Common but Toxic Career Habits You Need to Break

Your job is stressing you out – it’s ok! It happens to the best of us. But instead of feeling overworked all of the time, take a step back and see what toxic career habits you need to break. Eliminating these negative habits will help you feel rejuvenated, so you can focus on your job with the passion you used to feel.

1. Not taking your lunch break.

It’s easy to work through your lunch break, I know! It really seems like the best solution when you weigh it against staying late. When you do this every day, however, you’re wearing yourself out unnecessarily. Take thirty minutes to enjoy your lunch. How refreshed you feel after will make you feel so much better that you’ll get more done than if you had worked through that entire time. If it doesn’t take you that long to eat, don’t sacrifice the rest of your break! Run an errand or go visit with some coworkers. It’s necessary to take short breaks from work to stay focused in the long run.

2. Not using your paid time off.

Deadline after deadline after deadline means you never get a chance to take your dream vacation! Well, make time! Your boss might not like being without you, but you’ve earned that vacation time, and you deserve to take it. Time off will make you feel refreshed, and by the time you have to get back to work, you’ll feel ready to handle any task that comes your way. If you really can’t take a week vacation to Hawaii, then take a few days here and there to give yourself some long weekends, and treat those as mini-vacations!

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3. Over-explaining yourself.

If you came up with a good idea for a project, let the idea stand on its own. Your boss doesn’t need to know exactly what you were doing when you came up with it, or who inspired you. If you took a personal day, it was because you needed it – you don’t need to share all the drama that surrounded that day. Same with sick days or doctor’s appointments: just say what you need to say and let it stand. If necessary, bring a doctor’s note – that will be story enough for your boss.

4. Not speaking up in meetings.

If something’s on your mind, speak up! If you have a good idea, throw it out there! If you take too long to think it through, you’ll find that someone else will speak up before you, possibly sharing a similar idea. Don’t say every thing that crosses your mind, but also don’t censor yourself prematurely. Sometimes it’s important to put something, anything, out there quickly to show you’re thinking, rather than to stay quiet and overthink an idea that might never be heard.

5. Taking on more than you can handle.

Don’t be afraid to say no to certain job duties. You can only do as much as you can do — if you’re already overworked, nothing will be helped by taking on another project. Turn it down graciously and say you need to fully focus on what’s on your plate now, but would love to work on such projects in the future. Make sure you know your limit so you’re not taking on too much before you can even say no to more.

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6. Repeatedly checking your email.

What a time-waster! We all do it – it takes just one second to see if anything new has popped up in your inbox, but the distraction subtracts minutes from your workday, each time you do it. Set specific times to check your email: when you first get in each morning, after your lunch break and an hour or two before quitting time. You might need to check it more if you’re waiting to hear from someone or are on a deadline, but don’t let yourself check it every five minutes. Stay focused on your task at hand.

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    7. Responding slowly.

    Don’t be that person who checks their email and then lets it sit there! Even if the person hasn’t added a read receipt, over time they’ll know you saw their message and haven’t responded, or they might think you ignored it completely. When you read each email, try to address it right then. Complete the task the email asks, give the information the person needs, or even just fire off a message letting them know you’re on the task. If you don’t reply right away, you’re more than likely going to forget about the email and therefore look like a slacker, or even worse, it’ll weigh heavily on your mind until you can’t think about anything else. Don’t add unnecessary things to your To Do list — take care of these emails as they come along.

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    8. Procrastinating.

    Procrastinating doesn’t just have to be about email! You can put off anything from a major project to a small task that would take no time at all to do. Sometimes it’s just too hard to make yourself do something when it needs to be done. But the longer you put it off, the harder it will be to do it. Just suck it up and do the task when it’s fresh on your mind, and you won’t have it weighing you down in the long run.

    9. Being unprepared.

    Sometimes you forget your lunch or leave your phone at home. Everyone has been unprepared for something, but try not to let it happen at work. Forgetting something every once in a while s understandable, but if it happens too much, it will affect your job. Being unprepared for your work day will throw you off your game, and it’ll be harder for you to accomplish what needs to be done. Being unprepared for a meeting or presentation will make your bosses and coworkers think you’re not together enough to handle the job, or you just don’t care enough to put forth the effort.

    10. Complaining.

    You’re at work – be professional! Yes, it sucks that your boss moved the deadline up by a week, but does complaining help? It just makes you look immature and unprofessional. Even complaining to coworkers will look bad — and you never know who might let something slip to the boss! Not complaining will also help your mood — instead of feeling like everything goes wrong for you and you alone, how pitiful, you can nix those thoughts immediately and make yourself have a better attitude, which will help you get back to business quicker. You’ll be prepared for that deadline before you know it!

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    Featured photo credit: indi.ca via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

    Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

    Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

    Are you challenged at work? Do you regret career decisions? Are you happy? If the answer to the questions leads to a negative feeling, it is time to determine next steps.

    Many people settle for a career that no longer brings satisfaction. Most will respond by stating, “I am surviving” if a colleague asks them “How’s work?”

    Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can re-direct the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to be live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance.

    Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to choose a career for a more fulfilling life.

    How to Know if You Need a Career Change?

    The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. As a result, our mental health can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain and internal health issues.

    You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire of true happiness. Here are common factors that it is time for you to change your career.

    Physical Signs

    Are you aging since you started your job? Do you have anxiety? What about work-related injuries?

    It feels amazing to receive a pay cheque, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best of you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

    In the case that colleagues or your boss take advantage of your kindness, feeling the anxiety of fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you.

    Mental Signs

    One out of five Americans has mental health issues, according to Mental Health America.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

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    I remember working at a job in a work environment where harassment was acceptable. I had to walk on eggshells to avoid crossing the line with colleagues. My friends started to notice the difference in that I seemed out of character. It was then that I knew that changing a career to freelancing was the right decision.

    Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

    • The tension in your neck
    • Difficulties with sleeping
    • Unable to concentrate
    • High anxiety
    • Depression

    If you start to feel your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life like friends and family.

    Are You Sure You’re Not Changing for the Wrong Reason?

    Most people that feel they need a career are frustrated with their situation at work. Do you really understand your current situation at work?

    The reason it is important to think about the work situation is some people decide to change career for factors that are insignificant. Factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization.

    Here is a list of unimportant factors to think about before you decide to make the transition:

    Desire for an Increase of Salary

    The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time.

    At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one is expected. It is what happens when a colleague leaves a company to a new one and returns several years later.

    Overnight Decision

    Let’s face it. We make overnight decisions when stressed out or disappointed with situations at work. The problem with a quick decision is the negative and positive points is overlooked.

    Rejected for a Promotion

    I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds to be a lengthy process, but at times, a promotion requires time. Avoid changing a career if you do not see the results of a promotion currently.

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    Bored at Work

    Think deeply about this point. If you work a job that is repetitive, it is normal to feel bored. You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is you to change jobs into a fun situation.

    A career change can take time, networking, education and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

    • How long have you worked in your career?
    • What is the problem at work? Do you work well with the team?
    • Do you receive recognition?
    • Can you consider working in a new department?

    If after reviewing your work situation and none of the above recommendations can help, then it’s time to make a career change.

    How a Career Change Will Change Your Life

    I have a friend that works in the medical industry. She was once a nurse working directly with patients in one of the top hospitals in her area. After five years, she started to internalize the issues with her patients to the point where she felt depressed after work hours. It impacted her relationship with her family and she almost lost herself.

    One day, she decided to wake up and take control of her destiny. She started applying for new medical jobs in the office. It meant working on medical documentation of patients which is not an ideal career based on what society expects a medical professional to perform. But she started to feel happier.

    It is a classic example of a person that was negatively impacted by issues at work, stayed in the same industry but changed careers.

    A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem or revive the excitement for one’s work.

    You know a career change can be the right decision to make if you experience one or all of these:

    • Working in a negative workplace: Don’t be discouraged. A negative workplace can be changed by working at a new organization.
    • Working with a difficult boss: The challenges of working with a difficult boss can be stressful. All it takes is communication. You can address the issue directly with a manager professionally and respectfully.
    • Feeling lost about what you do: Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in activities that are new, remember that life is short. Mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

    How to Make a Career Change Successfully

    The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step by step to avoid making the wrong decision.

    1. Write a Career Plan

    A career plan has a dead line for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking or improving issues at work.[2] A career plan should be kept in your wallet because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

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    You can learn how to set your career plan here.

    2. Weigh Your Options

    If you have a degree in Accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used to a variety of roles to choose.

    You don’t have to stick to what society holds a top job. In the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

    3. Be Real About the Pros and Cons

    It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the job market that are impacting the current situation.

    A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:[3]

    • Economic factors
    • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
    • Location: Do you need to move? If the goal is to work in tech and living in Cincinnati is not realistic, consider moving to San Francisco.
    • Achievements: To stand out from the competition achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work or volunteering is a recipe for success.
    • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars or self-study is an option.

      A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

      4. Find a Mentor or Career Coach

      A mentor or a career coach that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

      • What is required to be successful in the role?
      • What certification or educational development is needed?
      • What are the challenges of the role?
      • Is there potential for career advancement?

      A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about the desire for a career change.

      Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

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      5. Research Salary

      Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or perks like benefits to make up for the difference in previous to potential salary.

      It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

      6. Be Realistic

      If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

      For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve wrecking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

      Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, other roles are fit that will make you happy.

      7. Volunteer First

      A person that wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

      Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget and public speaking.

      Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity.

      8. Prepare Your Career Tools

      I recommend asking a boss, colleague or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance. Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

      • Online search: Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.
      • Be LinkedIn ready: Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.
      • Portfolio: A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.
      • Cover letter: A good cover writer will always impress your potential employers. Here’s how to write a killer cover letter that stands out from others.

      Bottom Line

      It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will find a job and discover the role in a career field that is the best fit with your skillsets.

      Master these action steps and changing career paths will be on your terms to make the best decision for your future.

      More About Career Change

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

      Reference

      [1] Mental Health America: The State of Mental Health in America
      [2] MIT Global Education & Career Development: Make a Career Plan
      [3] Creately: Personal SWOT Analysis to Assess and Improve Yourself

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