It’s a pretty well-known fact that work shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of our lives. There’s definitely more to life than our jobs.
However, we also can’t deny that we spend a huge chunk of our days at the workplace, wherever that may be. And in a larger sense, work gives us a sense of purpose.
So, if you don’t feel like you’re going anywhere in your career, it can impact your life negatively. Career stagnation can make you feel like you’re in limbo, like you’re nothing but a robot forever on autopilot.
Not exactly the best way to spend 8 to 12 hours of every single day, right?
If you feel that way, now might be a good time to take a look at certain habits that might be holding you back at work.
Here are ten habits to say goodbye to if you want to move forward and maximize your potential:
Alright, let’s start with a habit that has plagued every one of us at some point, whether we admit it or not.
Cramming and trying to get a paper done two hours before the deadline might have worked in college. But in the real world? There will be some unpleasant consequences for that.
Not only does putting things off stress you out in the long run, you’ll also leave a bad impression on the people you work with.
They’ll see you as someone who isn’t quite reliable and responsible. Someone who doesn’t have it all together.
So, how can they trust you with more responsibilities? How can you be seen as a take-charge person worthy of promotion?
If procrastination is one of your habits, here are some simple ways to break free from it:
- Break down intimidating tasks into smaller, more achievable ones.
- Arrange those tasks according to priority. Do the more important ones first.
- Use time management tools to keep you on track (I use the Pomodoro technique, and it really helps to keep me in line. Here’s a free timer you can use. )
- Eliminate distractions like your phone or open tabs on your computer.
- No getting around it – just start!
- Reward yourself for finishing your tasks afterwards.
All it takes is a little organization, discipline, and you’ll be a paragon of efficiency!
2) Negative self-talk
This is closely connected to procrastination. According to Psychology Today:
“Procrastination is often a result of the resistance we feel toward a task. This is largely the result of negative thoughts and feelings.”
And it doesn’t stop there.
Negative self-talk permeates into every single aspect of your performance. It practically sets you up for failure because it’s a form of self-sabotage.
Look, we’re only as good as we believe we are. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”
So every time you have a moment of self-doubt, prove yourself wrong. You’re more capable than you give yourself credit for.
Once you start living that out, the people at work won’t help but notice!
3) Being resistant to change
Speaking of resistance, are you the type who sighs in defeat when the company announces you’ll be using a new software? Or changing marketing strategies?
In today’s fast-paced world, adaptability is a top trait to have. This is something I quickly learned when I shifted to remote work after years of working in a classroom.
All of a sudden, I had to learn a ton of software programs and collaborate with people through online platforms. It all felt like Morse code to me, and it was a real struggle trying to adjust to my new normal.
But once I got past that, I was just so darn proud of myself!
Change is inevitable, anywhere you go. You can sit on your swivel chair and dig your heels in, stick to the processes you’ve always used, and stay right where you are.
Or you can keep an open mind and see the value in new, different ways of doing things. That can take you out of the proverbial rut and get you to your version 2.0.
4) Forgetting to upskill
When you embrace change like I mentioned earlier, it’s only natural for you to learn a lot of skills along the way.
Unfortunately, for many people, upskilling isn’t a priority. They’re quite content with knowing (maybe even mastering) the basics of their job and leave it at that.
That’s all well and good, but then…how do they compete with those who constantly upskill?
Make no mistake, it’s a competitive market out there. Hiring managers are looking for those with a growth mindset, because these kinds of people are worth investing in.
5) Not networking
While we’re talking about skills, let’s talk about a soft skill that’s sure to move you forward in your career. I’m talking about the ability to make connections.
As an introvert, I myself cringe at the thought of having to network. I’d even go so far as to say that I count networking as one of the things I dislike most about the work life.
But I have to accept that people who know how to network get farther in their careers.
Think about it: who do you think would have more doors opened for them – the employee who refuses to attend a company event, or the one who’s all in and goes to meet other people in the industry?
Maybe that sounds unfair to those who are more on the quiet, reserved side. But such is life – fortune favors the bold.
I hope you see the benefits of networking. It’s a valuable tool for building professional relationships and opening doors to new ideas and opportunities.
It truly carries a lot of potential for personal and professional growth, so take a deep breath and summon all the social skills you have in you. It’s absolutely worth it.
6) Not speaking up
Like I said, fortune favors the bold.
So if you’re doing your job, but you’re simply coasting along, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
I’ll say it like those judges on cooking shows do – if you’re always playing it safe, you won’t win.
You might stay employed, sure, but it won’t help you grow. It won’t help the higher-ups see how interesting and innovative you are.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for more challenging tasks. Show interest in projects that lie outside your comfort zone.
Who knows, maybe they’re just waiting to see some initiative from you! And that’s also why you should stop…
7) Sticking rigidly to your job description
I once had this coworker who was a stickler for what was “his job”. When he was given a task that was ever so slightly outside of his job description, he’d go, “Uh, sorry, that’s not my job.”
Fast forward several years later, and I hear he’s still there, right in the same position. I can’t say I’m surprised, given how inflexible he was about his responsibilities.
Honestly, this one’s tricky. You want to maintain boundaries and not be a doormat at work, but you also want to show that you can go the extra mile.
You’ll need a bit of intuition to figure out a good balance to this, but rest assured – taking initiative and pitching in where you can show you’ve got a team player attitude.
The powers that be will notice that, even if you don’t think they do.
8) Poor communication
Anywhere in life, effective communication is necessary. In the workplace, it could be what puts you a cut above the rest.
You see, a company is like a machine (no matter how casual and friendly the culture is). What I mean is, for a business to hit its goals, all the various parts need to be working smoothly.
That’s where communication comes in. Poor communicators throw chinks into the process and slow it down.
Even more so if you work remotely, where efficiency depends heavily on employees’ communication skills.
So if you want to maximize your potential, practice active listening and be clear about what you say.
And to top it off, be open to feedback and take ownership of your work. Which brings me to my next point…
9) Lacking accountability
It’s inevitable that we make mistakes at work. What’s not okay is shifting blame or responsibility.
I’ve had my share of mess-ups, but one thing I’ve learned is that bosses and supervisors appreciate honesty.
When you refuse to own up to your mistakes and take feedback well, your bosses and colleagues won’t see you in a positive light.
You might even get a reputation that would make them think twice before partnering up with you. After all, no one wants to be in the direction of that finger-pointing.
Plus, refusing to be accountable means that you’re not learning from your mistakes. And the unfortunate bottom line is, it will keep you stagnant in your career.
10) Poor work-life balance
Now, what if you’re the dutiful worker? The one who keeps the light in the office on long after everyone has left the building?
Does that put you on the fast track?
Hmm…the more likely scenario is that you’ll get burned out.
And the kicker is, the work you painstakingly do won’t even be of the best quality. That’s what a poor work-life balance can do.
Remember, you need to recharge to keep being the best you can be. It’s that simple.
Hopefully, this list has led you to a careful self-examination of your habits.
Career stagnation is never a pleasant stage, but the good news is, it is just a stage. Which means, you don’t have to stay there. You don’t have to settle for that blah feeling.
Why should you, when you have the power to reboot and step out with some new skills and a fresh attitude?