I know that there are have been times in my career where I was my own worst enemy. Now at the time it obviously wasn’t me that was the problem but my boss or the job itself, the company or the team or my overall dissatisfaction. Now that those years are behind me, I can look back and be more critical of myself. And know that while those factors were a factor, I know I was still the one holding myself back from success or happiness.
I had let some bad behaviours get in my way of career success.
I’m sure I’m not the only one out there that this has happened to, after all we all have bad habits. We aren’t terrible people because of these negative behaviours but they can lead others to feel that we aren’t worth investing in or promoting.
I want to talk about 7 common bad behaviours that can derail our careers and I want to talk about how to stop them from getting in the way of our success.
This is one of my biggest weaknesses, I tend to procrastinate. There are many reasons why I do it and why you do it too. If I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed, if I feel like I don’t have enough time to complete it fully, if I don’t feel confident in my ability to do it and the biggest killer of my career success is that I procrastinate things I don’t like to do. And when most of your job is doing things you don’t like to do, well you can imagine impact that has your performance!
One way that I have overcome this is to schedule the time – my calendar looks crazy because every minute of every work day is scheduled but with my 2019 resolution to honour the appointments I made to myself I have gotten much better at handling procrastination. It eases my stress, I tell myself it is better to get started even if I can’t finish it, it makes me face my fear in my abilities head on and forces me to do the things I need to do even if I don’t like them!
Apathy, feeling indifferent, just not caring. A behavior coming from a feeling. These are individuals that do their job to the bare minimum because to do more requires motivation. There was a time where I hated my job so much but I felt like I couldn’t leave so I stopped caring. I wasn’t interested in my job, I didn’t care if I was successful or not, I isolated myself and I turned cynical.
It is a cancer too because it spreads to other areas of your life leaving you drifting and not living it to the fullest. So as soon as you begin to recognize the symptoms of apathy, you MUST act before it grows and spreads!
Caring also spreads, so start caring again. Even if it isn’t within your job or career begin finding a new hobby that you really care about, that excites you and that fills you with a sense of accomplishment. Then begin to work on those feelings of apathy towards your career – how can you get motivated again to follow your career dreams?
3. Dishonesty with Ourselves
When we pretend to ourselves that we are not part of a solution means that we can’t move on. Think about it, let’s say for example that something is wrong with your printer, say it eats through paper and so it can’t print. But you don’t want the problem to be that printer, maybe you can’t afford a new one, or the hassle of trying to find a new one is too much. So you try and solve the problem by changing the paper, unplugging and restarting, changing out the printer cartridge or reinstalling it on your computer.
Do you think by trying to fix all those other things will solve the problem? No! That’s because you are being dishonest with yourself about the actual root of the issue.
If you aren’t self-aware, you can’t grow, if you can’t grow, then your career will stagnate and perhaps even derail.
So sit down with yourself and brainstorm all the reasons why things aren’t working right now in your career. Start with the external, after all that is much easier. Then move internal – think about how you are holding yourself back. What is the problem? That way you can actually come up with a solution that will work!
Pessimism is usually the result of something, experiencing setbacks and disappointments, which lead us to believe that caring or putting ourselves out there doesn’t lead to anything good, in fact it just sets us up for yet another failure.
It leads you to constantly question yourself, to assuming that the world is somehow out to get you, that you are not worthy and all those negative feelings and thoughts that keeps you stuck. It can even lead you to unknowingly self-sabotaging any effort you put forth by ensuring that that effort is lackluster.
Deep rooted pessimism is hard to overcome but if you don’t want to lie down and give up then the work is well worth it. Think about why you feel this way and what are some of the thoughts that are leading to these feelings. Start looking for the good in your life and the world in general – maybe volunteer, or watch cheesy movies or surround yourself with friends who are optimists. Let some positivity into your life.
There is one constant in this life that we can depend on. Change. And the world we live in right now this rings even more true, things are constantly changing! If you are inflexible to it then you are letting opportunities pass you by at every turn plus you are gaining a reputation for not being adaptable.
One way to get used to change is to get more comfortable with the feeling of discomfort because that is why we don’t like change. We don’t like feeling uncomfortable with not knowing what to expect, with the icky feeling of not knowing how to do something. Find ways to push yourself into that feeling of discomfort (like taking up a new hobby or sport, putting your hand up to volunteer for something) and get used to it!
We've all worked with these individuals before. The ones that seem to be so busy selling themselves that they have no time for their actual work. The problem is, it works. These people do get opportunities and promotions. So we think that it is a good behaviour to have.
But it only works in the short term.
Think about this person’s reputation. Maybe upper management doesn’t see it right now, but you see it and you aren’t alone. Most people’s reputation catches up to them and it doesn’t end well. So focus on selling yourself but also showing up in your work.
By laziness, I don’t mean being a sloth even though that can derail your career! I mean the appearance of laziness or not caring typically shown through poor communication skills, a lackadaisical attitude and not dressing appropriately for your job and company.
When you send out emails or any form of internal communication you are showcasing your written communication skills, so ones that use overly casual language, “text” speak or poor grammar are ones that can limit your career opportunities. Treating your office space like home by having it super messy, or painting your nails (or worse clipping your nails!), or reading the paper can show an attitude not loved by management! And not dressing according to the company’s guidelines or having a sloppy appearance shows that you just don’t care.
So by laziness, I mean not taking the little bit of extra effort and time to edit those emails, clean up your desk or putting away those lululemons. Show management and your peers that you are professional and that you are ready for more opportunities.
Do you recognize any of these behaviours at all? What one are you going to work on this week to help get your career on track?
Need more help with that? Part of my career coaching is to recognize when things are going awry, get to the root of the problem and come up with actionable steps to overcome it. Schedule a free Discover Your Career strategy call to discuss your situation.
Sara Curto helps people find a career they love by teaching them a new way to job search.
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