12 ways you're sabotaging your career without even realising

'Chronic complainers generally focus on the problems at hand rather than on the potential solution' 

We all have bad habits. Sometimes we're not even aware of them, or the effect they have on our lives or careers.

"In fact, many of us have habits that sabotage our relationships, work flow, productivity, and bottom line results," says Sylvia Hepler, a career development specialist and author of "Learning Leadership Through Loss." "They can also sabotage our professional future."

Here are 12 common bad habits and behaviors that can seriously hurt your career:


1. Criticising your boss

Whispering behind his back, carping to her face, or making your supervisor out to be wrong, pathetic, or inept puts you in the danger zone, Hepler says. "If you're doing this, don't expect to land a promotion or last there."


2. Acting as if you can't learn anything new

Putting yourself out there as a know-it-all earns you the label of arrogant and thwarts your ability to seize opportunities for growth and development, she says.


3. Blaming others

"Pointing fingers at somebody else because you lack necessary skills, experience, appropriate behaviors, or sound judgment causes others in your world to view you as disagreeable," says Hepler. "Unlikeable people rarely advance."


4. Wearing your emotions on your sleeve

Going overboard with disruptive displays of anger, whines of frustration, and dramatic tears usually sends messages of warning to bosses, staff, and peers, she says. "People may conclude that you can't manage your feelings, and that's never a good thing."


5. Telling yourself you can't do something

This is a mindset that positions you to shoot yourself in the foot. Convincing yourself that you can't accomplish a certain task or project guarantees that you will fail, warns Hepler.


6. Waiting for the 'perfect moment'

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"Quite bluntly, procrastinators don't do what needs to be done, when it ought to be done," she says. "If you're holding out for ideal circumstances, be prepared to be seen as someone who is incapable of stepping up to the plate."


7. Complaining

"Chronic complainers generally focus on the problems at hand rather than on the potential solutions," Hepler says. "Instead of moaning about policies, processes, and people, accept what you cannot change or make recommendations for positive change."


8. Viewing yourself as inferior

Your lack of confidence is a recipe for career stagnation and discontent, she says. "Hesitation, passivity, and timidity are turnoffs to employers."

Of course, being too confident can also be detrimental.


9. Hating your current job

Cynical feelings about your job impede your desire and ability to show up and perform at the level for which you are paid. "You'd be wise to switch into neutral and concentrate on the tolerable aspects of your work," she suggests.


10. Believing you can't find a better job

"Did you know that your beliefs drive your actions?" Hepler asks. "Believe and trust that right now you have skills and experience that somebody else needs and wants."


11. Choosing to remain silent

Every time you decide to keep your innovative ideas to yourself, avoid asking clarifying questions, or accept poor company policy, you send the message that you're a doormat or largely disengaged, she says. "Typically, responsible and active participation is rewarded at work."


12. Coasting until retirement

If you're in float mode, think about the legacy you want to leave behind, she suggests. "Others don't remember — or care about — what you accomplished last year when they observe your bare minimum effort now."


How to fix it

"It's difficult for most of us to recognise our sabotaging behaviors in the workplace," adds Hepler. "This is because we are human, and all human beings, regardless of job title or salary, have blinders."

"The best way to identify the habits and actions that hold us back is to seek input from folks we trust," she says. Schedule lunch with a colleague who interacts with you rather extensively every day. Create a comfortable conversational atmosphere and ask that individual to be honest with you. Explain how their observations can benefit you and the organisation at large.

"Whatever your sabotaging habit or action, understand that it prompts people to dislike, avoid, discount, and mistrust you. When this happens, opportunities have a way of passing you by," Hepler warns.

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