If you want to advance in your career, stop doing these 9 things

Do you feel stuck in your job?

Maybe you would like to take on more responsibility, score a promotion, or find a better-paying position.

It’s time to be proactive about it.

Regardless of your circumstances, there’s always something you can do to move things in the right direction.

Here’s some advice on how to kick things off.

If you want to advance in your career, stop doing these 9 things.


1) Playing it by ear

It’s like the saying goes: when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

It’s natural to get sidetracked if you don’t have an objective in mind.

When you work towards achieving a set goal, on the other hand, you can keep things in perspective.

You likely hate this question, but where do you see yourself in 5 years? How about 10?

It’s time to consider these issues seriously.

Create a career plan, one step at a time:

  • Explore options available to you based on your education, skills, and work experience
  • Talk to experts in your field to identify growing job markets
  • Assess salaries and other benefits for each potential job
  • Estimate how different career paths would influence your quality of life
  • Determine which positions appeal to you most and whether you need additional knowledge or abilities to qualify for them

Playing it by ear will only get you so far.

Charting your ideal career trajectory enables you to visualize the path toward your final destination.

That said, your plan should accommodate some degree of flexibility.

This brings us to the second mistake many people who feel stuck make.   

2) Having tunnel vision

I spent the first chunk of my career working as a journalist at a local news website.

It was my dream job. A few years in, however, I realized that the gig wasn’t as perfect as I envisioned.

Chances for advancement were minimal unless I was willing to relocate or switch to another medium, like television.

Given that I had no desire to do that – writing is still what I love most – I was forced to reassess my entire career.

Luckily for me, I was open to doing just that.

Otherwise, I would have never been willing to embrace the idea of becoming a content writer (and you might not be reading this article right now).

While having a career plan is crucial, it’s equally important to ditch tunnel vision when it comes to reaching professional goals.

Stubbornly sticking to your plan can make you miss out on fruitful opportunities.

Would you turn down an appealing opportunity just because it’s not part of your 5-year plan?

I didn’t think so.   

3) Not keeping an eye on the job market

One of the friends I had growing up married a guy with zero employer loyalty.

He knew what he wanted to do, but he also knew that treating your employer like family can lead to staying in a job longer than it’s mutually beneficial.

Getting hired didn’t mean he would stop looking for jobs.

In fact, he would often spend his next free day interviewing for another company.

The result?

He and his growing family went on to live in multiple countries over the course of the last decade, they built solid savings, and he always had a safety net in case his current job fell through.

I used to think that this strategy sounded insane. After all, isn’t job security something we should crave?

Not necessarily, as it turns out.

Fast-forward a few years, and job security is becoming obsolete.

The further I advanced in my own career, the more I realized he had the right idea.

Just because you have a job you’re happy with doesn’t mean you should stop staying updated on what else is out there and interviewing with other potential employers.

At best, having another offer on the table means more leverage when asking for a promotion.

At worst, you’ll have something to fall back on if things don’t work out with your present employer.

4) Failing to keep track of accomplishments

Do you have a log of all your accomplishments?

If not, you’re doing it wrong.

You can’t advance in your career if you don’t have concrete proof of what you bring to the table.

Unfortunately, we often let the daily grind of completing task after task get in the way of realizing how much we’re actually doing.

Compiling a list of your wins comes with numerous benefits:

  • It gives you a sense of accomplishment
  • You have something to point to when you ask for a raise or promotion
  • It makes it easier to update your resume when the time comes
  • Can be a handy tool if a manager criticizes your performance

Start by creating a spreadsheet or a list in your notes app and writing down everything you’re proud of.

This should include all the financial goals you reach, tasks you complete on time, problems you fix, accolades, as well as all the times when you exceed expectations.

Bonus tip: create a folder in your email app, label it Praise, and use it to save all the emails with positive feedback from colleagues and supervisors.  

5) Succumbing to burnout

Burnout can creep up on you, especially during times when you’re trying to advance in your career.

You may have a tendency to take on more than you can manage just to prove your worth.

But while the short-time benefits of overworking yourself may sound appealing, the long-term effects of burnout will detract you from reaching your ultimate goals.

Consequently, you should do everything possible to prevent burnout and be kind to yourself.

Yes, even when you’re under pressure.

Practice good sleeping habits, eat a balanced diet, and get some exercise whenever possible.

You won’t get far professionally if you don’t take care of your physical and mental health.

6) Not asking for what you want

Navigating today’s job market is tricky, but one thing’s for sure: you won’t get what you want if you don’t ask for it.

Maybe you’ve been longing for more responsibility but think that you have to wait until your next performance review to bring up the issue.

Instead of wasting time, set an appointment with your direct supervisor and shoot your shot.

To increase your chances of success, highlight the mutual benefits the change will bring and emphasize why it’s important to you.

There’s a good chance the company will appreciate your directness and accommodate your needs.

Otherwise, you’ll have a clearer idea of whether getting what you want is even possible in the immediate future.

If your supervisor turns you down, suggest coming up with a timeframe for when to follow up and ask what you can do in the meantime to improve your chances of getting what you want.

Speaking of…

7) Ignoring feedback

We often do a miserable job judging our own strengths and weaknesses.

Even if you’re good at assessing yourself, you might still fail to understand how your employer assesses you.

That’s why paying attention to any feedback you receive is paramount: it clarifies expectations and enables you to learn from your mistakes.

You can’t advance in your career without knowing where you stand.

Feedback clarifies your position within the company and shows you all the areas you should work on to impress.

Nevertheless, there are things you should pay attention to outside the company too.

8) Surrounding yourself with people who don’t encourage your ambition

There’s no easy way to say this: if your entourage doesn’t support your professional goals, the road ahead will be considerably more difficult.

You can’t advance in your career if you’re out partying with your friends every evening.

Or if your partner doesn’t share household chores to help ease your mental load.

The people closest to you should provide encouragement and support.

When you feel like they’re hindering your career dreams, it’s time to set boundaries.   

9) Not prioritizing growth

Learning doesn’t end when you leave school.

When looking to bring your career to the next level, prioritizing growth is a must.

Ideally, you should always spot potential ways to develop your existing skills and develop new ones.

Consider these strategies:

  • Find a mentor who can guide you every step of the way
  • Take advantage of any training courses your employer provides
  • Sign up for external courses if your schedule allows
  • Look into freelance or volunteer opportunities outside of work
  • Further your education by enrolling in an online degree program

Bottom line

Being complacent in the workplace can cause a drop in performance and make you lose sight of your long-term ambitions.

If you aspire to career growth, the time to hustle is now.

Implement the tips above, and you’ll be on the right track to success.




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