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3 Reasons Why Good Professionals Make Not-So-Good Career Decisions

There are two types of professionals in the world: those who make mistakes in their careers and learn from them, and those who don't. For the latter, the odds always seem to be against them and life never seems to give them the break they need. Maybe – just maybe – it's not life that's to blame for their misfortunes, but rather the bad decisions these good, capable professionals keep making that are the culprit. Let's take a look at three reasons why good professionals make not-so-good decisions that end up costing them the career success they truly deserve.

There are two types of professionals in the world: those who make mistakes in their careers and learn from them, and those who don’t. For the latter, the odds always seem to be against them and life never seems to give them the break they need. Maybe – just maybe – it’s not life that’s to blame for their misfortunes, but rather the bad decisions these good, capable professionals keep making that are the culprit. Let’s take a look at three reasons why good professionals make not-so-good decisions that end up costing them the career success they truly deserve.

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(Photo Credit: Stephen Harlan/Flickr)

Making a bad decision every now and again is simply human nature – after all, humans aren’t perfect. In fact, mistakes can lead to valuable lessons that make you a wiser individual, as well as prepare you for the challenges you’ll face in your personal and professional life.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Despite your best efforts, it’s inevitable that you will fall victim to the occasional bad decision at some point in your career, leaving you scratching your head in confusion because you simply don’t know what you were thinking. Whether it’s ending up at a dead-end job or missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime, one lapse of judgment can complete derail your career success and set you back to square one.

If this has happened in your career before, then I empathize with you – and so do the millions of other professionals who have slipped up in their careers, too. Acceptance is the first step, right? To help prevent a bad decision from ruining your chances at career success again, here are three reasons why even the best and well-intended professionals make bad decisions along their career paths.

1. Money-Hunger

We’re all guilty of this at some point in our careers. It’s incredibly easy to get tempted by money, but it’s important to remember that money isn’t everything. Yes, sure, you can buy materialistic things that make you happy, but that type of happiness is usually short-lived. Your career should be about following your passion and doing work that is as fulfilling as it is rewarding. In fact, recent research found that millennials prefer freedom and purpose over money in their careers.

2. Impulsivity

There’s nothing wrong with leaving a job to pursue a more promising opportunity elsewhere, but you have to ask yourself if you’re doing it for the right reasons. Is the company culture a good fit? Are you leaving purely because the new employer offered you more? Is there room for growth for you at the new company? These are all questions you should be asking yourself before jumping ship, because no dollar amount is going to make up for bad management or a lousy corporate culture.

Don’t be tempted to act out of impulse in your career; when you do, you set yourself up to regret your decision later on. Remember, just as with life, your career is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time and do it right the first (or maybe second) time around.

3. Quitting Too Easily

This one gets us all at some point or another in our lives. When the going gets tough, it’s tempting to just throw in the towel and give up. If and when this happens in your career, try and remember that “the temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed” (Chinese proverb). Don’t expect success to come easy or to be handed to you on a silver platter, because you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. Keep your end goal in sight so that you don’t lose focus of why you’re busting your you-know-what.

Keep chugging along and know that doing things the right way is much more rewarding than doing things the easy way, especially when it comes to your career. One bad decision in life doesn’t mean that you’re doomed forever, so don’t get too down on yourself when you make mistakes along the way. The important thing to remember is, “fall seven times, stand up eight” (Japanese proverb) – or, in other words, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and use the lesson learned to your advantage. Rinse and repeat.

Tell Us What You Think

What was the most cringe-worthy bad decision you’ve made in your career? (Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.) Share your story and what you learned from the experience with our community on Twitter, or leave a comment below. 

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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