A career is not an event, but rather a process of learning and growing.
There are many potential pitfalls or missteps that can get in the way of a long and prosperous career.
Many are specific to particular industries, companies or even people. Obviously, every situation is different. Even the way certain people interact with their bosses or coworkers can have a substantial impact on whether they get the most of out of their working experience.
If you want to put yourself on the right path to a successful career, there are a few universal mistakes that should be avoided. Here are just a few:
1. Forgetting to “pay your dues.”
Any career can be hindered by trying to do too much too soon. Biting off more than you can chew or setting your sights too high can distract you from the opportunities to learn or improve that are right in front of you.
Without a doubt, ambition is a good thing, unless we let it get in the way of learning, growing, and looking for realistic opportunities for advancement that are immediately actionable.
Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your career be a straight track to the top. There will be twists and turns – you may one day reach the pinnacle of your success, only to find that you are doing something totally different than the path you started out on.
Keep an open mind, and be content with the learning process as you progress through your career. Don’t get in a rush.
2. Selling yourself short
While a career is indeed a long process of learning, that doesn’t mean that you should subjugate yourself to a boss or company.
Failing to recognize your own talent, or underestimating your ability, can leave you relegated to low-level tasks that limit your ability to learn and grow in your job.
To improve, you need experience that pushes you to learn new skills or solve complex problems. What’s more, underestimating yourself or your talent is a typical precursor to downplaying the value you provide to your employer.
This is something you can’t afford to do if you want to be fairly compensated for the time and effort that you give your work, much less be given responsibilities that will push you to acquire new skills.
3. Failing to recognize and develop your strengths
Regardless of industry, it’s important that you identify those specific things you do really well.
Know the ways that you provide the most value – or what tasks are serving you best – and focus most of your time on those activities that provide you with consistent results. This thinking is particularly relevant if you intend to branch out.
It’s fine to try other things or start a new venture; but make sure that you don’t ignore the activities or talents that are paying your bills.
4. Developing a poor attitude
A confrontational or dismissive attitude is a sure-fire way to gain the resentment of your boss or even lose your job.
To be sure, you won’t get the most out of your work experience, so whether you leave the company soon or stay for decades, you won’t be learning and improving the way you otherwise might.
If you want to keep the right attitude, avoid thinking that you know more than your boss. They may not know everything about what you do, but they clearly have some skills to have found themselves higher on the company hierarchy.
Figure out what you can learn from them, and how you can apply that knowledge to your own career. At the same time, try not to overestimate your independence.
Regardless of how frustrated we may get with work, most of us need a regular paycheck to sustain ourselves.
Pretending that we don’t need our job can leave us without one. Instead of falling into these traps, remember that your career is a learning process – not a teaching one.
Any career is a long process of learning, growing and improving. It’s never a straight line to the top – in fact, some people never get there. Often, it’s because they unfortunately fall into one of the traps named above.
If you want to have a successful career, don’t inhibit your own advancement.
Work hard and focus on learning, even if you do a new course from a school to enhance your skills further.
Do a good job for your employer, recognize your own value, seek opportunities to learn and advance, and you will have put yourself on the path to a distinguished career in your chosen field.