It is easy to find advice on how to improve yourself and enhance your career. Perhaps just as important is advice on what not to do when it comes to your career. Here are 10 mindsets that can sabotage your career brought to you by Vacancy Centre in Malta. We’ll identify these mindsets and explain why they sabotage your short-term and long-term career prospects.
“I’ll Do It Later”
Procrastination is a serious mistake. If you’re trying to avoid doing hard work, people will eventually see you as a slacker and see you as a poor contributor to the team. If you delay hoping others will do it or try not to tackle the challenge, you may end up still having to do the work, but the quality will suffer because you rushed to finish it at the last minute. Now your work is seen as inferior.
If you procrastinate because you don’t feel you’re good enough to handle the project or are afraid of making a mistake, the better choice is to reach out for help. If you’re overloaded, saying you’ll do it later and hoping that time becomes available hurts you in other ways. First, it doesn’t clearly communicate that you’re overloaded, whereas telling them the truth will result in it either being given to someone else or them reducing your workload. Second, it increases the load on you along with the risk you eventually burn out.
“I Can Do It All Myself”
Being self-sufficient is often seen as an ideal. And there are times that you can do it all yourself, such as a craftsman buying supplies, doing the work, and selling a product. However, most of the time, trying to do it all yourself hinders you. You waste time researching information you don’t really need to know instead of asking an expert, hindering your efficiency. You try to do something that another could do better, so the quality of the work suffers.
“It Used to Be This Way”
Dwelling in the past is a mistake. Technology, regulations, demographic shifts, customer market changes all force businesses to evolve to keep up. If you seem unwilling to learn how the business operations are going to work, you’re going to find yourself demoted in the workplace. If you don’t like how things are being done, proactively suggest improvements instead of pining for the past.
“You Need Money to Make Money”
Yes, it is easier to make a million pounds if you already have 900,000 pounds. However, the belief that you cannot become wealthy or even save a lot because you don’t already have money actually holds you back. For example, it denies the power of compound interest, how saving a percentage of your paycheck every pay period in a savings account or for retirement grows into a lot of money over a few years.
Furthermore, it causes you to avoid looking at options realistically open to you for financing a venture. For example, many businesses have found that they could crowd-fund their business expansion and lock in their first few hundred customers while generating a lot of publicity, all at the same time. And this approach means that if no one crowd-funds the project, you don’t waste money building what others won’t buy. Another version of this mistaken belief is that you ignore opportunities like selling equity to an investor who provides help growing the business or buying products to sell via loans secured by the property itself.
“There Are Conspiracies against Me”
One of the worst ways you can sabotage your career is to adopt a victim attitude and then take it into the workplace. If you adopt a victim mentality that you can’t succeed because people are out to get you, you’re going to look at the world through that lens with those biased assumptions. If someone criticizes your job performance, you don’t think that it may be true but instead reflexively assume it is really because of some bias.
“I Don’t Know the Right People”
Conspiracy theories aside, it is easy to say you cannot succeed because you don’t know the right people. This often traps people into helplessness and leaves them angry at the supposed oppression of the elite that all help each other and know each other, but this belief is attractive because it lets you avoid taking responsibility since you can say the system is rigged against you.
When you use a lack of connections or contacts as an excuse for not being able to do anything, you’re limiting yourself. You should solve the problem by leveraging your network. First, ask those you do know if they have the expertise you need before you assume you don’t have any assistance available to you. The next step is to ask if they know someone who is an expert.
Another way this belief undermines you is that you assume that the “right people” aren’t going to talk to you because you’re implicitly classifying yourself as one of the “wrong people”. Don’t hold yourself back from emailing a question to an expert whose lecture you saw on a TED talk or YouTube video. Don’t assume that the company tech guru won’t take time to answer a question or give you advice; if necessary, frame the question as directly as possible so they can either answer it quickly or refer it to someone who can answer it. Go ahead and reach out to former professors, lecturers, and subject matter experts for advice, especially if you can frame it as appreciation for their expertise while seeking their help.
If you’re selling products or services and feel like you cannot succeed because you don’t know “the right people”, again, your customers and clients may know them. This is where giving incentives for customer referrals can bring your ideal customers in because your clients want to receive those coupons or freebies they receive for the referral.
“I’m Stuck in a Dead-End Job”
This belief hurts you in several ways. First, if you see the current job as a dead end or a sort of job scam, you’re not going to do well in it. Now the job references your coworkers or boss gives you when you apply for a new one are not likely to be good. Second, if you see the job as a rut on its way to becoming a grave, you’re going to ignore the opportunities the job presents to grow and expand. Perhaps it is taking advantage of company paid training to gain the skills that allow you to find a better paying job in the organization or another company. Or, you could see this job as a way to pay your bills and the cost of education you seek on your own.
“I Made a Mistake, I’m a Failure”
Insanity is defined as repeating an action while expecting a different result. Stupidity can be summarized as making the same mistakes over and over again. If you made one mistake, you should learn from it and move on. Ideally, you’ll learn from the mistake and be able to tell coworkers and managers what you learned from it so that you’ll not only not make that mistake again but became a better employee overall.
“I Can’t Compare to X”
Several companies abandoned the practice of rewarding only the top performer in a team because they found that the reward for #1 incentivized the top few performers while everyone else gave up and did just enough to get by. They shifted to rewarding the top performing departments and teams as well as the most improved performers. If you judge yourself based on the top performer, you cause yourself to give up. If you compare yourself to your own performance, striving to improve yourself and your own metrics, you will succeed.
“It’s Never My Fault”
It isn’t your fault that you drove over a nail you didn’t see and popped a tire. However, there are many times in life where it is our fault. Refusing to admit your blame and own up to your mistakes is often done as a protective measure. If you evade blame, then you think you won’t suffer consequences for it. There are consequences for it, though more insidious than being yelled at by a manager or sent for re-training. It comes from others seeing you as unreliable because you make mistakes and refuse to admit them, much less correct them. If you’re constantly blaming your coworkers to avoid responsibility, this makes your coworkers hostile to you.
What if you’re constantly making mistakes, not living up to expectations, not quite able to do what is required for the job? If you admit you aren’t a fit for the job, you can discuss this with your boss and coworkers and shift to a job that is a fit instead of defensively avoiding blame before they admit the problem is you and get rid of you.
All these mindsets could severely set you back and prevent you from realizing your full potential.
Elena runs elenatahora.comand has many years of experience in the recruitment space. She is also a mum of 2 boys. At the beginning of her career, Elena was plagued with low confidence, but she was able to vanquish her negative mindsets and now she loves her job.