Decisions Hurting Your Career

by Matthew Ripaldi on August 2, 2017

When I look at successful careers, I’m always struck by how much work these people have put in outside of, well, their work.

Career success involves much more than just the work you do every day, but so many employees continue to make little mistakes that hinder their long-term growth.

The decisions we make every day impact our future careers. These are some decisions that are hurting your career.

No Direction

If I asked you what your career path is, could you answer me? Could you articulate the steps needed to move down that path?

I see employees who are smart and do great work, but who only think one step at a time. They are ultimately at a disadvantage because they can’t make the necessary preparations to get where they want to be in a year or five years from now.

Know your plan, even though it will likely evolve or outright change over time. That way you can start positioning your work to move you in that direction, rather than simply checking items off a to-do list.

Confusing Hard Work with Performance

“There’s no substitute for hard work” is a commonly accepted truth. And while the lesson is true, people often take this to mean that working hard is the only thing needed for success.

In reality, hard work is only half of the equation, the other half is performance. If you’re grinding through 12-hour days but you’re not producing quality work that is inaccurate or incomplete, you haven’t actually contributed to the company’s success.

Don’t just ask yourself if you’re working hard, ask if the work is accomplishing what needs to be accomplished.

Not Learning About Your Business

Do you know the business objectives of your company? Or its priorities or growth opportunities in its industry? Many people focus on their day-to-day tasks without thinking about how their work benefits the company.

Having a deeper understanding of this lead to better-informed work. You’ll understand how this work accomplishes a larger goal, and understanding how to create value for your company is one of the fastest ways to advance your career.

Not Learning About Yourself

Self-reflection is a crucial quality in any successful career. People are rarely jack-of-all-trades, and understanding your own strengths and weaknesses will put you in the best position to succeed.

Failure is almost unavoidable on the path to success, but only if you learn and grow from those failures.

Not Having An Advocate

There will times in your career when a company has to decide between you or a colleague for an assignment, a raise, or a promotion. With all other things being equal, the person who has advocates will almost always get the nod.

Advocates are your most important asset for career advancement. Regularly check in with your manager and make sure they’re aware of everything you are doing. The more ammo they have, the more they can go to bat for you when decisions need to be made.

Not Staying Connected And Aware Of The Employment Market

In the business world, you are your own most valuable commodity. And as a commodity, you need to know your worth.

Some people stop looking at the job market once they have a job they love, but this is a missed opportunity. Even if you aren’t looking to leave, understanding the employment market will make you better informed during raise and promotion negotiations.

Not Pitching Your Ideas Well

Poor pitching is a surefire way to handicap an idea before it gets off the ground. No matter how strong an idea is, the pitch must be equally strong to get colleagues on board.

Self-sabotage is one of the biggest mistakes I see made in pitching. “This might be a dumb idea, but…” or similar is a common lead I hear used, and it cripples the idea before people even have a chance to hear what it is.

Work hard on pitching your ideas clearly and confidently, and you’ll see your success rate skyrocket.

It might seem overwhelming, but take small steps every day to make the right decisions and your career will be all the better for it.

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