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Everyone Should Avoid Making These 10 Career Mistakes

Everyone Should Avoid Making These 10 Career Mistakes

You have decided you are going to make your mark and you will have a stellar career. That’s great, but let’s hope you avoid making these career mistakes which could shatter your dream in the long term. In order to make it to the top, here are 10 mistakes you should never make.

1. You limit your networking to inside the company.

Some employees cannot be bothered to start networking outside their company. They may be pretty friendly and helpful inside the company, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Just think what would happen if you were not in the loop when a new acquisition was proposed. You are the production manager and because you neglected networking, you were just not on the ball. You failed to exploit your contacts outside the company to gain valuable feedback, support and knowledge of market trends and innovation. That is the value of networking, yet many managers underestimate its importance. A lot of this needs to be done offline because it is the real social contact and human interaction that counts. It will give you a chance to seize an opportunity because you have your ear to the ground.

Larry Page failed to spot the opportunity of developing a Google social network in time. When they did eventually launch Google Buzz (later Google +), they failed to take off because of Facebook’s dominance.

“I clearly knew that I had to do something and I failed to do it.” —Larry Page.

2. You place too much importance on salary and benefits.

How does a temporary salary cut appeal to you? If you are considering a move, think of the experience rather than the money. In the long term, this will pay handsome dividends as the new job will be a challenge for you to achieve new goals. Aim to widen your skills set, broaden your responsibilities and manage teams. Think of the job satisfaction that it will give you and also how impressive it will be on your resume. Nobody will notice your salary increases.

3. You are afraid of failure.

If you are afraid of failure, it is doubtful whether you will be able to learn from mistakes. The successful manager has to factor failure in for every project. One good piece of advice is to look at a project before it becomes operational and ask your team to list what could go wrong. This is a great way of identifying possible problems and obstacles and it can help you make adjustments if necessary.

When failure does happen, you have to be ready to react without playing the blame game. Wise tactics include listening, getting feedback and analysing what went wrong. There is some excellent advice along these lines in the book, Managing Yourself: Can You Handle Failure? by Ben Dattner and Robert Hogan.

Success will not teach you; failure will. This is the bitter lesson that Bill Gates learned when he failed to develop a Microsoft search engine. When he did develop Bing, it was already too late. It had little success and it cost Microsoft more than $2.5 million than it earned in 2011.

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“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” —Bill Gates

4. You buy property.

Maybe you have always wanted to buy a house in your favorite area, near your workplace. The problem about doing this early on in your career is that you are tied in many ways to one location. You are less mobile which may be a factor against you when you want to move up the ladder. Of course, you can always rent it but there are extra hassles which you could do well without. Many companies will be reluctant to pay expensive moving costs.

5. You avoid challenges.

Taking the easy way out is a short term policy which will not stand you in good stead. It is when you encounter difficulties that you begin to understand how you react to stress. You also realize what your strengths and weaknesses are and you can avoid any situations which are totally negative and sap your energy. Aim for challenges where you feel that you can grow and use your skills and passions to greater effect. It is only when meeting difficulties along the way that you can understand that.

“My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long University education that I never had – everyday I’m learning something new.” —Richard Branson

 6. You ignore customer feedback.

Some successful businessmen have made very foolish decisions about launching a product or service, simply because they did not take customers’ needs or wishes into consideration. A example not to follow is that of Hiten Shah (founder of KISSMetrics) who spent $1m on developing a hosting company that never even launched. They realized too late that customer delight must be top priority. A similar example is that of Robin Chase co-founder of Zipcar.

“We built the website first and asked our customers about it later.” —Robin Chase

 7. You are too self-absorbed.

Basically you do not help coworkers or colleagues as you are too focused on your own success. This is a big mistake as research shows that when you help your peers, you are building a broad base of support which will pay off handsomely down the road. Research done by James Citrin and Richard Smith shows that the most successful entrepreneurs were four times more likely to help their peers than those who had not made it to the top. This is mentioned in their book The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers: The Guide for Achieving Success and Satisfaction.

8. You avoid hard work.

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” —Vince Lombardi

Almost all successful entrepreneurs are convinced that the real secret to their success was hard work, self-discipline and self-confidence.

9. You are afraid to make a job change.

You may feel that your present working environment is far too restrictive and that you are not able to develop your leadership skills sufficiently. There may be other restrictions such as a lack of training to widen your skills set. Examine carefully how a job change could put you on the next step of the ladder. If you wallow in self-pity and boredom you will never have the courage to make a job change which could help your career to take off.

10. You undervalue emotional intelligence.

Nowadays, successful leaders have learned that emotional intelligence is really crucial in managing a team and also leading a company forward to success. Some studies are suggesting that a person’s success may depend only 25% on qualifications and intelligence while the remainder is made up of people skills and empathy, which make up the core of emotional intelligence.

If you cannot relate to the thoughts, experience and feelings of your peers or your team members, then you will be unable to manage them successfully. Whether you are a team member or you are in a managerial role, emotional intelligence should be high on your list of skills to acquire.

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Let us know in the comments what mistakes you made in your career and what were the lessons you learned.

Featured photo credit: Crosshairs- success/Flazingo Photos via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

1. Make Time for You

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

4. Work on Your Personal Brand

Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

5. Be Accountable

Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

9. Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

10. Ask for Help

It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

Final Thoughts

You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

Reference

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