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5 Career Mistakes You’re Making (But Breathe. All Can Be Fixed)

You’d think that with all the info available at our fingertips that we could forever cease making career mistakes.

And you’d be wrong.

Career mistakes are not only common, but they’re happening more often than ever as we get caught up listening to old, outdated advice–advice that no longer works for our real lives at work today.

That stops here.

Here are the five career mistakes I witness successful, talented professionals like you making every single day.

My bet is that you’re not making all of them, but there’s one or two that’ll look familiar. I’ve also included things you may hear yourself saying that signal that you’re making the mistake.

Finally, I’ve added resources you can use to repair the career mistakes, so you can move forward again, fast.

Career Mistake 1: Not talking about it when work get tough.

With the explosion of social media, many of us are often revealing things about our lives we’d never talked about before–from our dogs to our dinner, and everything in-between.

Everything except one thing.

Our life at work.

In fact, most of us who work in traditional, corporate environments are still pretty closeted about what we really struggle with in our careers.

That’s especially true if you’re a professional who looks good “on paper,” meaning you:

      • Have a great job or title;
      • Work at a respected or well-known company;
      • Appear to make “good” money,
      • Look like you have other perks, such as flexibility, travel, team resources, good benefits, etc.

The pressure of the “looks good on paper” professional to make sure everything seems all right, all the time can be way too much.

Cues That This is You

If you’re hearing yourself say things like:

      • I don’t have any right to complain; I”ve got it pretty good compared to most
      • It’s just me–I need to figure it [the problem at hand] out
      • I need more time to process what’s going on here

. . . then you’re likely making this first mistake.

How to Fix this Career Mistake

The only way to fix the mistake of not talking about what’s tough at work is . . . to TALK.

But you, smart pro that you are, know you can’t just dive in and say just anything to just anyone.

You want to plan your conversations strategically, so that you can conduct them authentically and get the outcomes you need to know whether or not anything can change.

Start here with my Tough Conversations at Work: Scripts for When It’s Time for Change

Dive deeper with How to Say Hard Things to Good People at Work

Schedule a confidential chat with a professionally-trained coach

If something at work is getting tough, and you just continue to struggle without really talking about in the right way, to the right people, you’re doing your career and your company a disservice.

Start talking.
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Career Mistake 2: Believing “this too shall pass.”

We all have short-term hiccups in our work–our favorite leader leaves, the new product launch crashed, the new client doubled the order in half the time, etc.

And often, smart, ambitious professionals like you tell yourself “this too shall pass.”

So you put your head down, and just plunge forward.

And plunge.

And plunge.

Until . .  . you’re gasping for air.

Cues That This is You

If you’re hearing yourself say things like:

      • I’ll figure this out after [the merger goes through/the new hire starts/the quarter ends/mom’s surgery is over/the kids are out of school. . .etc.]
      • Right now, I just need to suck it up and get sh*t done.
      • I can’t take any time off right now.
      • I’ve got too much going on, but it’s only temporary–I can handle anything for a while.

. . . then you’re likely making this second mistake.

How to Fix this Career Mistake

The way to fix this mistake is to get closer to the truth.

Be the scientist of your own experience, and step back to look at things as they really are.

be a scientist of your own career mistakes

Dig into the reality by asking yourself questions like this:

      • Is the problem I’m experiencing truly a temporary situation? What facts or data tells you that?
      • Has this happened before in your experience? What’s the pattern been?
      • What’s the truth you’re trying to avoid believing?
      • If you take two minutes to close your eyes and ask yourself what’s really true here, what answer comes up?

If it’s truly a short-term thing, use these strategies to prevent career burnout.

If you’re recognizing that this may not pass–or that it’s gone on too long, it might be time to

Ask for more support,

Have an honest conversation,

Remember it’s okay to be human at work, or ultimately,

To make bigger career decisions.

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Career Mistake 3: Feeling embarassed or shameful that you are where you are.

“I’ve been in this industry 15 years,” she told me. “I SHOULD [my emphasis added] be able to figure how to solve this by now.”

“I’ve worked in this company for a long time–I SHOULD be a director by now.”

“I’m smart and I work hard–I SHOULD have never let this happen again.”

Notice a pattern?

The self-helpers call this “should-ing all over yourself.”

It’s completely normal.

We all experience emotions like shame, embarrassment, or regret–they’re part of our human operating system.

But we can’t let these negative emotions run us.

Shame tricks us into thinking it’s helping us by keeping us small and “safe.” But it’s not true–staying small and feeling insecure isn’t helpful for our careers or our lives.

Plus, shame and its fickle friends contribute to overwhelm, exhaustion, burnout and even depression, all of which not only have consequences at work, but consequences to our health and lives.

How to Fix this Career Mistake

Telling someone “don’t feel embarassed” or “don’t feel ashamed” is nice, but it’s not really helpful.

The only way to fix this career mistake is to go to battle with your brain.

Your big, beautiful brain has a small, prehistoric part inside it that was designed to keep us safe.

When we listen to it, we don’t go after dinosaurs; we procreate the species instead and eat high-calorie junk food. 🙂

Today, that prehistoric part of the brain is STILL inside your head, pinging you at the slightest feeling of discomfort or vulnerability.

But you don’t have to listen to it.

You can instead get clear on who you are and what YOU really want in your career, and

Learn to win the battle of the brain.

Career Mistake 4: Avoiding or making excuses for what’s really going on.

It’s really easy to dismiss feelings of frustration or even anger a few times.

But when the same emotions keep popping through, that’s a sign.

Emotions are not the demons we make them out to be.

Instead, they’re a sign flagging us that something’s out of sync with who we want to be.


Cues That This is You

If you’re hearing yourself say things like these over and over:

      • I’m sure it’ll all work out  . . . eventually.
      • That’s just how she/he/they are.
      • I’m just having a bad day, that’s all–no worries.
      • I’m just letting the stress get to me. I probably just need a vacation.

. . . then you’re likely making this fourth mistake.

How to Fix this Career Mistake

Often, we’re spending a lot of energy covering up the truth because we know that once we admit the truth, we’ll need to do something about it–and we don’t feel we’re ready to act, not just yet.

That’s an old-school way of thinking about it.

You can admit and accept the truth, and choose not to make any changes right now, instead focusing on what’s most important to YOU.

Or, you could change just how you’re thinking about the truth, since your thoughts are 100% in your control.

No matter what, we often make excuses for what’s really going on because we’re afraid of what we risk if we admit the truth. As a counterattack to that, you can get honest about what the risks really are–and they’re often not as many as you think.

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Career Mistake 5: Waiting to take action “until the time is right.”

This may be the saddest mistake of them all.

sad career mistake

Because for every day you wait to fix whatever’s not working, you cheat yourself (and perhaps your company, colleagues, and others) out of all the amazing superpowers you bring to work.

The fix is easy.

Take an action.

Make it simple, small, and safe.

You might try an experiment to save yourself time, energy or money.

Or, you might ask yourself a few questions to tap into your natural courage.

And of course, you could talk confidentially to a non-judgmental professional source, like a coach.

What action will YOU take NOW? Don’t wait–we need you in our world of work, now more than ever.

Ready to tackle your career mistake? Don’t go it alone.

As a professional coach to high performing professionals, I’ve helped hundreds of people just like you navigate through, around and past their career mistakes –or almost-mistakes!  A 30-minute initial coaching consultation with me is fast, free & fun.

Here’s how it works.

Just hit the button below, and pick a date and time that works for you. Then, answer a couple short questions that help me know more about what’s happening for you so that we can make the most of our time together. On the date and time you scheduled, I’ll call you. There’s nothing to prepare. I’ll ask you questions–you just tell me your truth.

My goal is to be helpful immediately in that call.

If it sounds like one of my coaching programs or on-demand courses might be useful to you going forward, I’ll share details with you in email after our call.

There’s no obligation and no pressure–so what do you have to lose? I can’t wait to talk to you soon!

Schedule your coaching chat now