career killing mistakes t You could be making mistakes that are killing your career – and you may not even know it.

That’s what this article is about. It’s to teach you some of the mistakes you may be making so you can do something about it.

As you go through the different mistakes, ask yourself, “Do I do this?”, “How do I do this?”, and “What can I do to change this?”

If you find yourself making multiple mistakes, don’t fret. Just work on them one by one, step by step, and before you know it, you will be moving forward in your career faster than ever.

 

1. You don’t know what’s important

Many people waste their days doing busy work but not really getting anything done.

Have you ever had a day where you felt like you were so busy but accomplished nothing? The likely culprit is this: you were doing busy and urgent work but not important work.

There are so much that comes at us that seems important: emails buzzing at us with an “emergency” every 5 seconds, texts, phone calls, people stopping by your desk, and so on.

The problem is, quite often, most of those aren’t really emergencies, and usually they aren’t really important. Things often seem bigger and more important when they are up close and in front of us.

One reason people live in the urgent is that they don’t even know what is important. They don’t know their company goals and vision, they don’t know their job description and why they were hired, and they don’t know their most important tasks.

When you don’t know what is important, it’s hard to focus and do the important.

Here are some questions for you:

  1. What are your company’s top goals right now?
  2. What are they trying to accomplish this year?
  3. What is your part in that?
  4. Why were you hired?
  5. What were you hired to do and accomplish?
  6. What are your most important tasks?
  7. What are your 3 core tasks?

Do you know the answer to these questions? If not, it’s time you found out. You can’t focus on the most important if you don’t know what they are.

Application:

Find out today the answer to these questions. Look at your job description. Talk to your boss. Find out what your most important tasks are and what you do that contributes to your company’s overarching goals.

 

2. You don’t do the important

Once you know what is important, you have to do what’s important.

Whether you don’t know or are distracted by other tasks, the reason many people don’t move forward is that they don’t do what’s important.

You may have heard of Pareto’s principle which says 20% of our contribution produces 80% of our results, and the other 80% produces only 20%.

The problem for many of us is that we focus on the 80% that produces 20%. We waste our time on the “urgent” tasks that pop up that seem important because they are right in front of us.

We live in our emails and from phone call to phone call. All of our work is reactive – not proactive.

Does that sound like you?

Application:

Examine how you use your time. Take time to write it out and track if you need to. How much time is spent on your most important tasks? How much time is spent on other tasks?

Do you constantly get caught up in the urgent? If so, you need to find ways to overcome that.

Plan ahead. Turn off notifications on your computer and check your email at set times. Before starting a new task that someone puts in your lap, compare it to what’s important and what’s on your plan.

If you need to, talk to your boss. Ask for help offloading the unimportant tasks so you can focus on your important tasks.

Learn to delegate more.

However you do it, make sure you spend your time in the most important, on the 20% that produces 80%.

 

3. You don’t take personal responsibility for your work and your success

A common reason many fail in their jobs and life is that they don’t take personal responsibility for their life, their work, and their success.

When they don’t get what they want or aren’t where they want, they blame others. They make excuses and complain. They look outward instead of inward.

Many expect others to “do it for them”, to hand them what they want on a platter and get upset when others don’t.

They live in a victim mentality.

The fact is, you are ultimately responsible for your life and success. You are responsible for your work. You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can always control your response, and that response matters.

Jack Canfield in his book The Success Principles gives this formula:

O = E + R

The outcome of any situation equals the event that happened plus your response. You can’t always control the event, but you can always control your response. If you don’t like the outcome, change your response!

You are where you are because of choices you’ve made in the past, and you will be where you are in the future because of choices you make now.

Do you see really successful people blame and make excuses? No. Because they take responsibility and do what it takes to be successful.

Application:

Stop blaming, making excuses, and complaining. Accept responsibility for where you are at now and for your future success.

If you don’t like where you are at now, change your responses. Do something different. Grow, learn.

Sure, you can keep blaming if you want and living as a victim, but you will never get to where you want and will live quite a miserable life of mediocrity, always looking outward instead of inward.

I hope you choose responsibility.

 

4. You complain and make excuses

One habit some have for when they mess up or don’t have what they want or aren’t’ where they want is that they make excuses and complain.

There are multiple reasons why people make excuses:

First, it’s easier to make an excuse than to take action. There’s less risk. You don’t risk people looking down on you or risk failing if you make an excuse and don’t do anything.

Second, it also absolves you of responsibility. If you make an excuse why you can’t do something, then it’s an outside force that caused it, not you. You aren’t responsible. You can then lambast and complain that circumstances are the cause instead of facing the fact that you didn’t have the guts or make the choice to actually do something.

Complaining is similar. It’s easier to complain than to do something. It’s easier to get into a negative pity party with other people than to pull up your pants and get to work. It’s a lot less risky that way, too.

And, the sad thing is, when there is a problem to be fixed, you often see people talk about it (complain about it) to those who aren’t involved. Instead of talking to someone who might could fix it or taking action to do it, they complain to someone else, just making the situation worse.

Application:

Stop complaining and making excuses – today.

Don’t let another word of either come out of your mouth. Instead of complaining about a situation – talk to the person who can do something about it or look to see what you need to do to fix it.

Instead of making excuses in work or life – look to see what part you have in the situation. Look to see what you can do to change it – and take the risk and action to make it happen.

 

5. You don’t know where you want to go

It’s hard to get somewhere if you don’t know where that somewhere is. You must have a clear destination of where you want to go.

Many people wish for vague things such as “success” or to be “wealthy”, but that is all those are, vague words. What does success mean? What does wealthy mean? How do you know when you’ve arrived?

If you want to get to success – define what success is. If you want to be wealthy – define what that means. If you want better relationships – define what that means.

In other words, set specific goals of where you want to go and where you want to be. Define it. Be specific. Anyone should be able to know what your aim is in a matter of seconds.

What do you want out of career? What are your career goals? Make sure you are clear about what they are and write them down.

Without a clear destination, don’t be surprised if you don’t reach anything.

 

6. You have self-limiting beliefs and negative self-talk (and you’re thinking is too small)

A large cause for failure in many people’s lives is that they have self-limiting beliefs.

They feel they can’t do anything great. They feel they don’t have the skills – and that’s what they tell themselves.

Generally, their self-talk is negative. “I’m no good”, “I’m just not mechanically inclined..”, “I’m so stupid”, “I’m a failure”, and so on.

Stop limiting yourself. Stop tearing yourself down with your words. Instead, believe in yourself. Aim high. Believe you can do it. See yourself and visualize yourself doing great things, reaching your goals, achieving your dreams.

Stop saying that you can’t do it, that you aren’t good enough, that you’ll never get there, that it’s not for you. Those are lies!!!

You are good enough. What you don’t know, you can learn. You can always get better. You can achieve.

Turn your self-talk around. Speak positively to yourself. Every time you start being negative, switch it to something positive. Build yourself up.

And remember, if you think small, you will achieve small. You are limited by the size of your thinking. If you believe you can achieve great things (and are willing to put the work to it), you can.

Stop limiting yourself with your beliefs and self-talk.

 

7. You give up too easy

Have you ever met someone who has pursued countless endeavors only to quit and try something else when the going got a little tough?

Is that you?

How many guitars are sitting in closets, treadmills used as a place to hang clothes, and novels waiting to be written sitting collecting dust?

You see, any endeavor worth learning will take work. It will take dedication. It will take dealing with some drudgery. It will come with failures and hard times.

Even with playing the guitar, not everything is always fun. If you want to be good, you have to practice. You have to work on your scales. You have to do repetition. You likely will have to practice with a metronome, and so on.

In your career, not everything is going to be enjoyable. Some projects will be hard. You may have failures and hard times.

However, it’s what you do with those that matter. If you learn and keep moving forward, you will succeed; if you quit when it gets hard, you never will.

Remember, it’s those who persevere who succeed. An unintelligent person who doesn’t quit will beat a smart person who does every time. An untalented person who doesn’t quit beats a talented person who does.

Don’t quit so easily. Persevere.

 

8. You don’t take time to grow yourself

Too many people think that their learning ends after school – to their detriment.

Here are a few questions for you:

  • What’s the last book you read?
  • What’s the last learning video or tutorial you watched or took?
  • How have you grown yourself professionally in the last month?

If you haven’t read or grown yourself somehow, you are hurting your career and your future success.

Your knowledge is either growing or shrinking. You are either building up on knowledge or losing it. If you aren’t constantly growing yourself, your becoming less valuable.

Why?

Because, first, over time we forget things. How much do you remember from high school and/or college? Do you even remember all your teachers’ names?

Second, technology is changing at a rapid pace. What was standard 5-10 years ago is out of date. The way things are done are changing. If you don’t stay up to date, you could be left behind.

Make a commitment to grow daily. Set aside time, even if it’s 15 minutes (though more is better) to read or something similar.

Study topics that will help you stay on top of your career and that will help you move toward your goals.

In fact, if you want a better marriage and relationship with your kids or whatever it may be, read books on those subjects as well! It’s amazing how we don’t think to grow ourselves in certain areas sometimes.

And if you already do this – kudos to you.

 

9. You compromise your values and integrity for temporary gain

You values and your integrity are important. Very important.

You may not think compromising them “just one time” is a big deal, but it is.

First, it’s something I tell my kids – when you lie to me, especially about not lying, I can’t trust you. Even when you say you aren’t lying in the future, even if you aren’t, I won’t know that, because you’ve lied to me in the past.

It’s the same with your values and integrity. If you compromise it, it puts a mark on you. People begin to see you as less trustworthy. You are seen as someone who is willing to compromise for temporary gain – and that’s not generally a good reputation to have.

Second, it’s a slippery slope. Tell me, do you think any of these big executives who have gone to jail for their compromises planned to go as far as they did when they did it the first time? Likely, it was “just once” or “do it to get by for now”.

Once you start compromising in one area, it’s easy to start compromising in more. Once you start compromising in small areas, it becomes easier to compromise in bigger.

And it hurts you and your reputation. If you are seen as someone who compromises, unless it’s a shady company or person (which you don’t want to be at or around anyway), it will hurt your chances to move forward.

Just don’t do it.

 

10. You can’t handle conflict well

If you can’t deal with conflict, you will struggle with work and relationships throughout your career and life.

Conflict is going to happen. Disagreements are going to happen. You are going to offend other people and others will offend you. It’s a part of life.

What matters is how you deal with it. If you get angry and yell at the person or talk about them behind their back (whether it’s a coworker, boss, or whoever), it will hurt you in the long run.

If you don’t know how to handle disagreements appropriately, you are hurting yourself. Take some time and learn.

11. You take feedback personally

Similarly, if you don’t know how to receive feedback from others, it will hurt your relationships, career growth, and personal growth.

The problem we have with feedback is that we often take it personally. We attach our behavior and efforts to our character and who we are, so when people critique us, we take offense because we take it as if they are attacking us.

Or it may be WHO is giving the feedback. Even if the feedback would be helpful, we don’t listen because we don’t like the person giving it.

We need to change both of those.

Feedback is vital for our growth. It’s an incredible way to learn so that we can get better. Instead of getting mad at people, we should be thanking them!

If you are someone who always gets offended by feedback, people will stop giving it to you. People will start being careful what they say around you. And that’s not good.

It can also hurt your promotion and raise possibilities. If you are known as someone who can’t receive feedback, it’s not likely you will move up too far (though it does happen, and then someone has a boss that won’t listen to feedback – which doesn’t help anyone).

Stop taking what people say personally. Realize they aren’t attacking you and that your character and worth is not tied to if you made a mistake or not. Think of mistakes and feedback as a chance to learn, grow, and get better.

And separate the message from the sender. If you need to deal with something with the sender later, do it. But listen to the feedback and see if it’s applicable to you. Sometimes those who don’t like us can give us the best feedback.

 

12. You don’t say “no” enough

The word “yes” can be a killer of your productivity.

Saying “no” can be tough sometimes. We may feel we will hurt someone’s feelings. We want to be and to be seen as helpful. And, truth is, sometimes we are manipulated by others to feel that their problems are our responsibility.

If you have a hard time saying “no”, you have to learn, not just for your career sake, but for your sanity sake. If you constantly say yes to everything, others will take advantage of that and you will find yourself overworked, overstressed, and overwhelmed.

We talked about earlier the importance of focusing on what’s important. Here’s the thing – if you are saying “yes” to unimportant tasks, you are saying “no” to your important tasks. Every minute you spend doing something that doesn’t move you forward is one minute less on the tasks that do.

It’s not that you should never say “yes”. It’s good to be helpful at times. But be smart about when you do and how much. Remember that all your “yeses” have a cost.

And truth is, most people will respect your “no”. They will understand. It’s those who don’t that you have to watch out for anyway. Some people just try to use and manipulate you to solve their problems. They didn’t do it right (or at all), so they want you to bail them out. They can’t control their emotions, so you are their emotional need. Those kinds of people can suck you dry.

Say no and let those people learn from their mistakes and learn to be responsible for themselves.

 

13. You don’t plan ahead

Lack of planning is a killer of success. Planning helps you:

  • Makes sure your activities match your goals and priorities
  • Helps you focus on the important versus the urgent
  • Helps you keep focused on the bigger picture
  • Keeps you from wasting time figuring out what to do
  • Provides a guideline for decision making
  • Helps you be proactive instead of reactive
  • Helps you know when to say “yes” and when to say “no”
  • Helps you fight procrastination

When you don’t plan, it’s easy to get caught up in the urgent. It’s harder to see the big picture. You can easily waste time in the morning and throughout the day trying to figure out what you should do next, and that next often is not what’s most important.

At a minimum, take time to plan each day the day before. Know what you are going to do before you go in and start. Know what your most important tasks are for that day and focus on those first.

If you can, also plan weekly and even monthly. Figure out what tasks or areas you need to focus on that month/week. This doesn’t mean you have to know what task you are going to do each day at what time, but by planning longer-term, you can make sure what you focus on day-to-day is pushing you toward your long-term goals and to what’s most important.

 

14. You think of decisions as right or wrong

Too often we think of decisions as right or wrong. It’s this way or that way. If you disagree, you are wrong, I’m right. If someone disagrees with me, they are saying I’m wrong.

However, when it comes to decisions, as Annie Duke says in her book Thinking in Bets, it’s like poker –  it’s all probability. We usually aren’t 100% certain about the outcomes. When you have a great hand in poker and the cards look like they are in your favor – you may have a high chance of winning – but with a high chance of winning, you still have a chance of losing.

Instead of thinking of your favored choice for a decision as right or wrong, think of it as levels of certainty. If you think of it as levels of certainty, then it opens you up to better learning and better communication with others. Instead of seeing other viewpoints or disagreement as an attack on you being right, it’s information that helps you increase or decrease your certainty on your choice.

It also helps you view decisions in a better frame. You know that, no matter how high the probability your choice will be in succeeding, there is also a chance for it to fail. Knowing this opens the door for you to prepare for other possibilities and scenarios that may happen.

 

15. You base the goodness of a decision on the outcome, not the process

This is called “outcome bias” or “resulting”.

It’s easy to judge other’s decisions (and our own) based on this. The result was bad – so they (or we) made a bad decision. It turned out well, so it was a good decision.

That’s false!

You can make a good decision – and still get a bad result. You can make a bad decision – and out of sheer luck hitting that small probability chance have it turn out good.

If you determine the goodness of a decision based on the result and then make future decisions based off of it, it can make you start making worse decisions!

Someone can make a really bad investment and it just happens, 1/1000 chance, to turn out well. Does that mean they made a good decision? No! It just happened to turn out well that time. If they make a similar investment next time, they are highly likely to lose.

Take poker. You can have a great hand and have great cards on the table. You can make a good decision and bet wisely on that hand – and still lose. It doesn’t make it a bad bet. Since it’s all probability – you have to hit the losing percentage with the winning percentage. If there is a 75% chance of winning – you will still lose ¼ times.

You can make a wise choice and still have it turn out bad sometimes. It doesn’t mean it was a bad decision – it just turned out bad that time.

Instead, examine the process you used to make the decision. Examine the criteria. Look at the statistics and base rate where applicable.

Doing this can help you learn better from decisions and make better decisions in the future. It can also help you feel better about yourself, even if it didn’t turn out the way you wanted.

 

16. You don’t seek out people who disagree with you

Disagreement is important because it helps you see different viewpoints and angles you may be missing as well as see past your blind spots. It helps you make better decisions.

Too often, people avoid disagreement. They don’t like others to point out faults in themselves or their arguments. They don’t want anything that could damage their point of view.

And that’s dangerous.

When you do that, you miss out on a lot of information. You make worse decisions, head down paths that could hurt you, and you could continue in behavior that is detrimental to yourself, your career, and your business. Eventually people will stop trying to disagree with you or share other viewpoints.

Don’t be like that. Welcome disagreement. Welcome other viewpoints. Open yourself so that you can see things more clearly and make better decisions.

 

17. You have no structure for your decision making

One reason we make poor decisions is that we don’t have a structure for our decisions. Each decision is made willy-nilly or by what feels good at the moment.

When we do that, we easily fall prey to many biases – such as anchoring, satisfying, and more.

Instead, have a set process for how decisions are made, whether personally or in your business, and make sure to follow it. Some good guidelines include having a set criteria you judge each alternative by equally, making sure to have multiple alternatives (more than 2), and so on.

For more information on decision making, check out Decision Making.

 

18. You spend time with the wrong kinds of people

You may have heard the saying, “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. There’s a lot of truth to that. Who you spend your time with, you become like.

If you spend your time around negative people, you will become more negative. If you spend time with people who only give half-jobs, always complain and make excuses, and who are financially unwise, that will rub off on you as well.

On the flip side, if you want to be successful, spend time with people who are successful. If you want to be better at sales, spend time and learn from the best salespeople at your company. If you want to be better financially, spend time with people who are financially wise.

Spend time around people who you want to be like and who will pull you up, not down.

 

19. You try to solve problems without making sure you are solving the right problem

One reason you may have trouble solving problems is that you spend time solving the wrong problem.

This can happen a lot in businesses. Instead of taking the time to figure out and clarify what the real problem is, they will throw money at different solutions “hoping” that they are right and that it solves the problem.  We can do the same thing personally as well.

Instead of doing the trial-and-error method, throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping something sticks, take the time to find out what the real problem is. Find clarity. Dive deep and find the root.

Once you do that, then proceed to solving the problem. Otherwise, you may spend a lot of time, money, and energy solving something that isn’t the problem in the first place.

 

20. You try to do too much at once

Setting goals is great. Having multiple goals is wonderful. Wanting to improve yourself in multiple areas is awesome. However, trying to do it all at once is not.

When you try to do a lot at once, it’s easy to overwhelm yourself and burn yourself out. I’ve done this a few times. I had multiple areas I wanted to start working on, so I started working on them all. It may have worked well for a day or two, but then I didn’t have time to do it all – and it started falling apart from there.

It also keeps you from doing any one thing well. When you are trying to pursue 10 goals, you don’t have the time to really invest in one single goal.

When you set goals – have all the goals you want to pursue – but then pick one (two or three at the most). Pick the one that you think will have the greatest impact on your life and pursue it with everything. Then, once you finish it or it becomes part of your daily routine, focus on something else.

When you are trying to grow in different areas – pace yourself. Focus on one at a time. Choose an area, do a deep dive, then go to the next, and so on.

Of course, we can’t leave this section without talking about just doing too much period. It’s easy to overwhelm ourselves and fill our lives up full of activities. Be careful about that. As we said before, when you do many things, it’s hard to focus and do well on anything. It can also keep you from enjoying life period.

 

21. You try to do it all yourself

Some of us have a habit of trying to do it all ourselves. There could be multiple reasons for this:

It could be pride. You don’t think anyone can do it better than you can. Or you define who you are based on it. It defines your worth.

You feel like you must prove something. You feel you must do it all because you have to prove to others (or to yourself) that you can do it.

You don’t know how to teach others. People often say it’s easier to do it themselves than teach someone – that’s usually because they can’t teach it that well. In the long run, if it’s not one of your most important tasks, it’s best to delegate.

It could be that you don’t know how to ask, are afraid to ask, or feel bad for asking.

Whatever the reason, you need to work to overcome it and begin letting other people help you. Open yourself up to other people. Be willing and let others make mistakes to learn how to do it well.

We succeed better when we succeed with others, so be willing to let others help you, and help others as well.

 

22. You have poor communication/conversation skills

One reason you may not advance is that you have poor communication/conversation skills. If you can’t communicate well with others, whether with clients, coworkers, or your bosses, you won’t advance in your career very far.

What are some tips for better conversational habits?

  • Look the person in the eye. Yes, you probably want to look away now and then so it’s not weird having you stare at them, but give the person your full attention. Don’t be looking around the room or at other people – it shows you as disinterested.
  • Ask questions and dig deeper instead of jumping in with your own story ( and don’t interrupt).
  • Avoid crossing your arms are leaning away from them.
  • Nod occasionally and say things like – wow, neat, uh huh, etc.
  • Paraphrase what they say.
  • Remove barriers between you and the other person.
  • Speak up where they can hear you. Be confident.

For more on better communication skills, check out these articles on The Exceptional Skills.

 

23. You focus on yourself instead of others

If all you do is talk about yourself and look for how people can help you, people will stop wanting to talk to you, help you, or be around you.

Instead, focus on other people and how you can help them. Business that focus on the short-term making money at the expense of the customer hurts themselves in the long run. Business that are willing to spend a little short-term to do the best for their customer come out better in the long-run.

If you want better relationships with your clients, coworkers, and boss, focus on how you can help them, and it will help you in the long run.

 

24. You worry too much about other people’s opinions

Too many dreams have never been fulfilled, too many people never took a step to a greater career or life because they were afraid of how other people might respond.

The truth is, any endeavor worth pursuing will have critics. Any great goal will have people who say it’s not possible or that you shouldn’t do it.

You can’t listen to those people.

Negative people want you to stay negative with them – so they try to pull you down. People who are afraid to step out don’t like it when you do because it makes them look bad. These are the people who will laugh at you about your goals, plans, and/or dreams.

Successful people won’t do that. They won’t laugh when you say you want to be the president of the company one day. They won’t laugh that you are trying to do great things. If anything, they will be impressed by your motivation and desire and encourage you on that path.

Don’t let the fear of other’s opinions keep you down.

 

25. You fear failure (or success)

The fear of failure is a killer of success. Many people never try because they are afraid that they may fail.

Here’s the thing though: If you don’t try, you already failed.

It’s true. If you don’t try, you already failed, so you might as well attempt it.

At the same time, the reason you may fear failure is that you have a bad definition of failure. You may think failure in your endeavor means failure as a person. That’s not true. Failure doesn’t make you a failure. Failure is you learning what doesn’t work. Failure is a teacher to show you how to do it better. Every successful person I know has had failures, but the difference is that instead of quitting, they learned from those failures, persevered, and moved forward.

If you change your mindset and think of failure as an opportunity to learn and do it better, you have no reason not to step out and try.

At the same time, sometimes people fear success. They fear what that will mean. They may not feel worthy of that success. They wonder what others will think or say. They may fear the responsibilities that may come with it.

Don’t let that hinder you as well. You are worthy and you are capable of success. Will some people put you down? Sure. Those people you don’t want to be around anyway. Find other successful people to spend time with. Will it change responsibilities and mean a change in your life – yes. But that’s a good thing. Success, the right success, is a good thing.

 

26. You constantly compare yourself to other people

Instead of working toward their goals, some people get stuck in comparisons.

They are okay as long as they are doing better than someone else. They haven’t reached what they “wish” they had, but they are doing better in X way than the Jones’s, so it’s all good.

Or no matter what success they have in their career (or life), it’s never as good as someone else’s. They got a raise, but someone else got more. They got a promotion, but so did someone else. They lost 5 pounds, but Jill lost 10.

Both sets of thinking is dangerous. With the first, you are just settling. Your basing your worth and value in your career and life based on how well you do against someone else, and that is sad.

With the second, you must stop comparing yourself to other people and compare yourself to yourself. Are you improving? Are you doing better? Are you moving forward? If not, why not? How can you do better?

Comparing yourself to others will frustrate you and stress you and make you want to quit. The thing is, people’s circumstances are different. People are different. And sometimes, life just isn’t fair.

But you can’t let that keep you from pushing forward. If you base your worth on how well you do compared to others, you will frequently be disappointed, not because you aren’t worthy and capable, but because someone else in a different set of circumstances than you had a different result than you.

It’s great to learn from people who may seem to do better than you and use what you learn, but don’t compare. Compare you to you, set  goals, challenge yourself, and measure your improvement on you, not arbitrary comparisons with other people.

 

27. You run from your fears

Too many of us run from our fears instead of facing them. The problem is, if we constantly run from our fears, we won’t advance. We won’t grow. We will live under the control and power of that fear. If you run from the fear, you are giving that fear control and power over your life.

And, when you never face your fears, it can kill your career. If you fear public speaking, and you never work to overcome it, then that will hurt your future. If you fear networking and talking with people and don’t work to overcome it, then that will hurt you. If you fear confrontation and don’t work through it, it will hurt you.

In many cases, the best cure for fear is action. Act. Action cures fear. If you fear talking someone and go do it anyway, you defeat that fear. The longer you take to do that, the more the fear grows, and the less likely you will act.

If you are afraid of public speaking – go speak publicly! Join a public speaking group, class, or toastmasters. Do something and act to overcome that fear. If you don’t know how to deal with confrontation, learn. Get extra help. Do what you need to do.

In some cases, the fears may be deep, and you may need help. That’s okay. Get that help. Find you a counselor to help you overcome those fears.

Don’t live under the power of those fears anymore. Overcome them.

 

28. You do half-jobs

One of the biggest killers of success is doing half-jobs. Sometimes it’s because the boss isn’t in, so you just get lazy. Or maybe you don’t like that work, so you don’t put the effort that you should into it. Maybe you are just lazy. Or maybe you don’t feel like you should do that work until you get paid more.

Those mentalities and attitudes will kill your future.

Everything you do should be done with excellence. You should always give your best, 100%. This doesn’t mean be a perfectionist and waste time making everything perfect, but acting with excellence should always be your mantra.

If your boss is out for a week, work as if you would if he or she was watching you every second. If you don’t like the work, find ways to enjoy it or just suck it up and do it. If you are lazy, stop it! Work for the raise you want, don’t wait for the raise to do the work.

Always, always, always, give your best and work with excellence. Doing this is one of the best things you can do for your career.

 

29. You make bad first impressions

First impressions are important because they stick. It can be hard to overcome a negative first impression.

If you dress poorly, act rudely (or give the appearance of rudeness, intentional or not), or show lack of confidence, that impression of you will stick. Even digital impressions show. If your LinkedIn is done poorly and has misspellings, if you publicly show pictures of you doing stupid stuff on Facebook, or so on, it can also give people a negative impression of you.

This doesn’t just apply to you as a person, but also to your business. How your website looks, how your business cards look, how your building looks, all of that leads to a first impression of the company, an impression that may stick.

Instead, do your best to always give a great impression, every time. Always dress decently or better, depending on the circumstance. Smile at people and give good body language. Be a good listener and don’t interrupt people. Give them your full attention. Have questions on the ready to ask. Make sure to give good handshakes and look at people in the eyes.

Make sure your company website is up to snuff – and be willing to invest to make it look so. Make sure the first impressions you give people about your or your company always give the first impression that you want people to have.

 

30. You can’t let go of the past (forgiveness, self, regrets)

It’s hard to look forward toward the future if you are constantly looking backward toward the past. There are different types of past events that we sometimes look at: regrets, failures and mistakes, and actions of others.

Sometimes we have regrets, such as a missed opportunity or a mistake made. Maybe we said something we wished we didn’t or didn’t say or do something we wished we did. We may have tried something and failed or made a stupid mistake that cost us or our company money and time.

The problem with focusing on the opportunities we missed is that we miss the opportunities in front of us. If you keep looking back at the path you wish you had taken, you won’t see the paths in front of you that you could take. It’s the same with mistakes, if you keep looking back at a root you tripped on, you will miss the root coming in front of you.

Mistakes happen, but you can’t dwell on them. Learn from them, look forward, and move on. Constantly looking back will just make you make more mistakes and create more missed opportunities.

Another way we focus on the past is that we focus on past actions that people have done to us. They hurt us. They screwed us over. They did things that they shouldn’t have. They failed us.

It’s good to acknowledge and see what people have done, so that we can learn from it ourselves and so we can work to prevent it from happening again. However, holding on to the past action will just hurt you.

Unforgiveness doesn’t hurt them, it hurts you. When you don’t forgive someone for past actions, bitterness builds up. I’ve seen too many people who have lived bitter lives because they can’t let go of what someone did to them.

The thing is, holding on to that past action doesn’t hurt them – it hurts you. They don’t care that you are angry about it – they may not even know.

But what it does is hurts your disposition. It makes you negative. It hurts your relationship not only with that person, but with others as well.

The best thing you can do is forgive, if nothing else, for yourself. Forgive doesn’t mean forget. If someone has harmed you, it can be wise to remember it so you can prevent it from happening again. But you can let go and forgive.

Sometimes people try to get revenge for past hurts. Someone did them wrong, so they are going to get back at them. A coworker does you wrong, so you get back at them somehow.

The problem with this as well is that while you are looking back to get revenge, you are not looking forward. Also being a person who can’t cooperate or who is bent on hurting or getting revenge is someone who is not likely to move up far in a company (or life).

Stop holding on to the past, whether mistakes from yourself, missed opportunities, or actions of others. Learn from them, do what you can do protect from future issues, and keep looking and moving forward.

 

Conclusion

It’s the little habits that can make or break you and your success.

In this list, we covered 30 actions and habits that can hurt you and what to do instead. Make sure to take the time to go through the list and examine what areas you may need to work on.

Go through the list and ask, “What’s the most important area for me to work on? What will have the biggest impact?”

Then, start working on that. After you have done that, ask again, “What other area do I need to work on?” Then go work on that.

If you need help, that’s okay. Find it. Email us if you need us.

Don’t let simple mistakes keep you from the career, life, or the dreams you want.