Navigating your career is like sailing an ocean; you have to look at the big picture and plan accordingly. Unfortunately, many people are shortsighted when making career decisions. They rely on their emotions, focus solely on a promotion and spend too much time and effort fighting their colleagues. Often, such decisions cost them time and energy they could have spent building a strong foundation. Save yourself the pain and make wise choices about your career. Forget the promotion and boardroom applauses; focus on your end game. Making the wrong choices can lead you down the wrong path or slow down your professional growth. Read on for career decisions that you’ll be regretting in ten years.
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1. Losing Yourself
If you spend your whole life creating an image for others to see, the image will eventually fade, and beneath it, people will see the true you. Don’t waste too much time feeding people’s opinions so that you forget to invest in yourself. Walk confidently and show your true self, be honest and avoid making decisions based on what others think. It seems scary but it builds you, boosts your confidence and helps you grow professionally and personally. Work on self-improvement and don’t forget that starting your career is an opportunity to discover new talents and grow yourself in a new way; take advantage of the opportunity and discover unknown potential.
2. Burning Bridges
As a young professional, you will find yourself making mistakes; older colleagues will often scold you, which can rub you the wrong way. You must understand early on that such moments will define your career. If you make a mistake, apologize; avoid giving excuses or trying to justify yourself. Do not result to hate mail, negative complaints or making enemies of your colleagues. The most valuable lesson at the start of your career is using everyone you meet as a learning point and making the most of the interaction. Understand that the workplace has diverse personalities; some people will build you, while others will work to bring you down.
3. Being Stagnant
A regular paycheck, an annual holiday break, medical insurance and free weekends can easily blind you from pursuing the goals you set on while still in school. Several factors can cause stagnancy in your professional career. They include, a job that makes you too comfortable, responsibilities, fear, losing your drive or forgetting your long-term goals. In ten years’ time, you will regret not making a move when you had money, time and the energy to invest in yourself. Make a move; enroll for a graduate degree, apply for your dream job, travel abroad, start that business or move to a different state. It may be the wrong move but at least you will avoid regretting that you didn’t make a move ten years from now.
4. Failing to Network
Anyone who has any success in the professional world understands the power of a strong network. Unfortunately, a lot of people fail to take advantage of networking opportunities, especially when in large organizations. Make friends with colleagues from other departments, participate in company events and spend time getting to know people around you. In giving promotions, people are more likely to give it to a colleague they know at a personal level as opposed to someone they only know from emails and formal meetings. Expand your network beyond your department or employer; make as many professional connections as you can, they might come in handy sooner that you’d thought.
5. Allowing Money to Drive You
Everyone could do with a little more money, sadly, a large percentage of people make career decisions based on money without assessing the long-term value of the decisions they make. While a title and a good paycheck are attractive, they lose value with time. Give your time to jobs with valuable experiences, significant mentorship opportunities and accelerated learning opportunities. In the long-term, giving priority to growth over money will give you higher earnings.
6. Planting Your Roots
Buying a house to settle in early can hurt your career. Employers value mobile employees. They give their high-potential employees an opportunity to travel the world and gain varied experiences and global exposure. In grooming future leaders, they look for employees they can send to various locations around the world to learn about all factions, subsidiaries and global operations. Buying a house may put off your employer as he does not want to pay a significant moving expense. Additionally, the hustle of selling a house can delay your move, discouraging your employer or force you to pass on an opportunity.
7. Investing Solely in Yourself
If you spend your time and energy adding value to those around you and the organization, you will get paid for it in the long-term. Research proves that the most successful professional focus more on the success of those around them as opposed to their success as individuals. Scaling the professional heights requires a solid base and support from your peers. In your professional pursuits, take advantage of opportunities to help others and watch karma reward you handsomely.
8. Keeping the Wrong Company
Avoid complainers, drinkers, negative and confrontational individuals. Keeping negative company influences you negatively and spoils your reputation, affecting your long-term career growth. Free yourself from anger, selfishness, greed, anxiety, laziness and any other unpleasant trait that slows down your professional growth. You are more likely to advance on your own than with the wrong company.
9. Fear of Mistakes
Mistakes are part of life; they are essential to your career’s growth. You learn best by doing, and you are bound to make mistakes before you can perfect your art. Take risk but do not approach your work carelessly. Mistakes create excellent learning opportunities. However, avoid making mistakes that will cost you your job. If in doubt, ask someone with more experience for guidance. Your early years offer you an opportunity to learn as much as you can. Your reaction to mistakes determines your growth curve; admit your mistakes and always find a way to correct them as fast as possible. If you learn to recover from your mistakes, you will learn crisis-handling lessons that will help you in the long-term.
10. Living in Your Mind
Stop planning your life in your head. Go out and live. The world does not owe you a single thing; you must go out to the world and earn your place. Get out of your head and work towards making your dreams come true. You cannot sit and wait for things to fall in place; all good things come through hard work, patience and persistence. Understand early that you do not have all the time in the world. Learn the importance of saving, planning your day, staying true to your word and making things happen for you.
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Career decisions can make or break you. While mistakes are part of the process, you must guard your reputation at all times. Learn to enjoy your work, appreciate the laughter and the tears, and take it one-step at a time.
If you made these mistakes early on in your career, it is not too late to redeem yourself. Regret is a wasted emotion; do not spend any more of your time swooning over spoilt milk. Pick yourself up and use your mistakes to make better choices.