9 Career Management Mistakes That Are Holding You Back
There are probably endless reasons we could come up with to explain-away why our career hasn’t worked out as we would wish. Or why it isn’t where we wanted it to be, by now. But if your career is not as you’d have it, a more productive place to start is not with all the external reasoning. But instead, to look at oneself as the source to unlock your career potential. Here are 9 career management mistakes worth revisiting. And the career-building habits to avoid them.
1. You’re not getting intentional.
I’ve said many times before: you have a career strategy. Even if you think you don’t, you do. Intentionally or unintentionally, you do. And that strategy is working perfectly: delivering exactly the results you’re currently getting. And this tells us something else: there is no neutral. Either you’re working on your career; or (in your neglect), you’re working against it. So get intentional with your efforts.
Career Builder Habit #1: Get Intentional.
2. You’re not working at it, day-in, day-out.
Whilst some people make career look a breeze, flowing perfectly and seemingly without effort … don’t kid yourself. Careers take effort. Regular, steady and well-judged effort, continually focused on just the right things. Not sudden stop/start, on/off bursts of uncoordinated activity. Consistent decision-making and action-taking that becomes habit and mindset. Cultivate the career management habit by working at it daily.
Career Builder Habit #2: Act Daily.
3. You’re not taking enough initiative.
Perfect careers don’t exist – we create them. Perfect careers aren’t handed to us – we fashion them. And so we need to take initiative to create the career that we want for ourselves. One of the surest ways to do that is to get comfortable making career decisions. And the more we do it, the better we get at it. So practise career-decision-making – more regularly than is comfortable. Make them commitments. And always pair your decision with an action.
Career Builder Habit #3: Take Initiative by Taking Decisions.
4. You’re not integrating your brand.
A career that succeeds is one that is built on your most valuable asset: YOU. And “You” plays out at work as your professional brand: the coming-together of your authenticity, differentiation, reputation and promise. When it comes to building a career, not enough of us put this asset to work. Integrate your brand into your career-building efforts: demonstrate thought leadership, inspire a loyal following, cultivate strategic partnerships, seed special projects, work towards a legacy. Have your brand be the cornerstone of your career development efforts.
Career Builder Habit #4: Integrate Your Brand.
5. You’re not connecting with the bigger picture.
In the harried day-to-day, it’s easy to lose sight of how your work on the ground is contributing to the company’s goals, objectives and mission. But maintaining an up-to-date understanding of what the business wants to achieve is essential to identifying your place within that machine – and establishing yourself as an indispensable element. It’ll also give you a deeper sense of purpose and passion for your work. And keep you coming back to the big projects that drive the most business (and career!) value.
Career Builder Habit #5: Link Your Value to the Big Picture.
6. You’re only focused on doing a great job.
Best assignments, regular promotions, rising through the ranks. These things don’t come to those who just do a great job. There’s plenty just doing a great job. Stellar career success belongs to those who stand head and shoulders above the rest. And they do that by focusing on the other career journey that makes them the most promotable. That focuses on material contribution, showcase performances, big picture insight.
Career Builder Habit #6: Stand and Deliver Above and Beyond.
7. You’re failing to spot the pivotal moments.
Success is defined, created, shaped and made to happen in those career-defining pivotal moments. And those moments are happening all the time – if only we’d see them for what they are. Identifying these moments is all about awareness and responsibility and can be improved with effort in 3 areas. (1) Decide what you’re looking for – to help your brain usefully chunk and filter. (2) Move yourself into a positive state – a great position from which to take a mental step-back and see opportunity from your high-level view. (3) Listen to yourself – whether instinct (gut reaction), intuition (gut feeling) or insight (“aha” moments). Ask: yourself now: what moments am I missing?
Career Builder Habit #7: Learn to Spot the Pivotal Moments.
8. You’re failing to embrace the pivotal moments.
We work consistently to setup the pivotal career moments. But then, in that meeting place of talent, drive, purpose and opportunity … we shrink from the challenge. Do those who succeed in their careers have more opportunities than those who don’t? Or do they just step up and seize those opportunities? And that’s not a technical challenge. That’s a thinking challenge. So ask yourself now: how pleased am I with the quality of my thinking in the moment? What beliefs do I need to drop that aren’t supporting me? And what do I now need to choose to believe to my success happen for me?
Career Builder Habit #8: Learn to Embrace the Pivotal Moments.
9. You’re not taking responsibility.
And finally: we’re back to where we started. The undercurrent of every other career management mistake: responsibility. And its simple antidote: choosing to take (more) responsibility for our careers.
Career Builder Habit #9: Take Responsibility.