You might not feel like you’re sabotaging your career simply because you manage to be on top of your to-do list everyday, but don’t fool yourself. Sabotaging your career means you’re not doing the right things to get through THE to-do list, the one that’s your road map to a successful career. Sabotaging our careers is similar to how we sabotage our job searches by getting into a rut of simply looking at the same online job boards every day and applying to thousands of unsuitable jobs when we need to be networking and applying more strategically.
See Also: How to Overcome Self-Sabotage
The worst thing about self-sabotage is that we often don’t realize we’re doing it, whether it’s because it started out as innocent excuses that snowballed into bigger issues, or because we don’t realize how people perceive the things we’re doing.
Feeling confident that you aren’t sabotaging your career? There may be a subconscious reason you clicked on this article, so read on and make sure:
1. Not Marketing Yourself
Lots of people don’t like to talk about themselves, often because it makes them feel like they’re bragging. However, by avoiding it all together, they’re putting themselves at a disadvantage because then no one ever knows about their accomplishments.
Don’t assume that you don’t need to tell your boss what you’ve done. They have a lot of other employees, and they could genuinely be asking because they need to know or be reminded. The best way to be sure is to talk about your achievements in relation to how they’ve helped the company: braggers talks about themselves, a good employee talks about the boss.
Additionally, when it comes to your annual review, prepare for it. Be ready to point out anything your boss has missed or is (truly) being unfair about, and if possible even put things in motion a few months in advance by sending them a memo listing the achievements they should be taking into consideration.
2. Always Going Solo
It might be lonely at the top, but keeping yourself to yourself on the way there is self-sabotage. While it’s good to be able to work alone, that doesn’t mean it should be your default method: it’s also good to be able to work as part of a team, and it’s good to have a support system.
No matter how confident, determined and capable you are, you still need the support of others. People you can turn to when you need advice (friends and family always mean well, but mentors tend to know more), people who can give you a boost when you need it, people simply to keep you from getting lonely or frustrated when things aren’t going so well.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to getting too friendly with your coworkers. On the one hand, being on friendly terms with coworkers means that you’ve got a support system at work; help is granted when needed, and you can give help when it’s asked of you. On the other hand though, if your boss sees you getting along too well with a coworker they might think twice about promoting you in case you’re unable to be their superior. Be friendly, but try to avoid being too friendly while the boss is watching.
3. You're Stuck in the Wrong Career
If you’ve managed to get yourself a job, even one that makes you really unhappy, you might feel like you’re stuck and it would be silly to leave just because you’re miserable. It isn’t silly. Insisting on a job that’s so fun that it doesn’t feel like work might be silly, but leaving a place that’s making you miserable is a sensible first step towards a better career, so don’t just ignore how you feel.
You might think you’re hiding your unhappiness well, but you probably aren’t; whether we mean to or not, how we feel about our work can become quite obvious through our performance. The unhappier we are, the less desire or ability we have to work, and inevitably the quality of our work drops.
First, try to concentrate on what’s tolerable. Try and find ways to make your situation better - if you are in the career you think you love, remember why you love it and see if you can reignite your passion for it. If you truly can’t, however, put some serious thought into moving on; no one’s telling you to quit tomorrow, but start looking for other opportunities or even side jobs.
4. Not Branching Out
Even if you’re the best person in your department there may still be one thing you’re failing at, and that’s working more closely with the other departments. There might not be much overlap between you, but it’s always good to have at least one contact in each department for two reasons: if your boss ever needs something from another department, you will be the go-to person for someone to reach out to, and if you ever are the boss you will know about employees beyond your limited circle.
Staying within your own department and never coordinating with the others also limits you, you never turn your hand to any new skills; it’s the people who know things outside of their responsibilities who tend to get promoted, and the people who are known beyond their cubicle walls. Think of it like the name bowl in The Hunger Games: involving yourself more is like putting your name in more times, making you more likely to be chosen.
5. Not Applying for Promotions
You might have just laughed at that title, thinking you would never pass up such an opportunity, but has it ever happened to you? Have you ever been in a position where your immediate boss has left or been fired, and you didn’t grab the chance to take their place?
When this happens it’s because of self-doubt. When we’re faced with a promotion, or even a big and scary opportunity, we suddenly chicken out. Prepare yourself for any eventuality by taking any training course that presents itself, and don’t be afraid to grab that perfect job: you may just find that your boss is actually 100 percent behind you and it’s the best thing you’ve ever done.
6. Not Asking for Feedback
"No news is good news", right? Half right. If your boss hasn’t come out of the office to yell at you, then you haven’t done anything horribly wrong; which is good. However, "horribly wrong" and "excelling in everything you do" are the two extremes: if you don’t ask, you won’t know whether they think you’re doing great or just coasting. While coasting might keep you safely in your job, it isn’t going to help with the legacy you want to leave behind.
I know, the only thing more terrifying than asking for a promotion is asking for feedback: at least you can only get a no when it comes to a promotion, but a feedback session could end in tears depending on how sensitive you are. It might hurt, and it might be scary, but it’s the best thing you can do for your future. It’s always good to know the areas where you can improve. It always looks good to take the initiative, and you should never claim to know everything.
So, are you still sure you’re not sabotaging yourself? Did you see anything on the list that you might be doing or not doing? The next time you get the chance to put yourself out there take it; people can’t advance you if they don’t know you exist.
Are you guilty of any of these acts of self-sabotage? Can you think of any others? Let us know in the comments section below.