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Correct These Bad Habits to Get Out of Your Own Way at Work

Topics: Career Advice
Bad habits
Image Credit: Pexels / jim jackson

Sometimes, your worst enemy is…you. Are your bad habits sabotaging your career?

Getting sloppy, being a bit too slack or not keeping your eye on the ball are all ways you could be damaging your career.

What habits are keeping you from greatness? And could you fix them? You bet!

1. You’re Late All the Time

Life happens. We all know that. But does life happen to you a little too regularly? If you’re never on time to work, to that meeting, or to that conference call from your desk, it will be noticed. Nobody likes having their time wasted, so expect a little disgruntlement, not a pat on the back, when you say you were “too busy” to get that project done on time. Everyone else showed up, so where were you?

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How to fix it: Start by finding ways to manage your time and start delegating tasks. If you’re always sleeping through your alarm in the morning, try setting two or three, or have a roommate or friend get involved. If they can get you up in time, you’ll buy the coffee on your way to work (nice and early).

2. You Say “Sorry” Too Much

Is it typical that you start a sentence with “Sorry, but…” when you’re just trying to make a point? Stop it right now! Don’t apologize for having a contrary opinion when you’re being paid to be a professional in your field. You’re no imposter, you’re a hard worker with thoughts you want to express.

How to fix it: If you’re writing “sorry” too much, you can even use a Chrome email extension called “Just not sorry” that will help you quit the habit. If you’re saying it too often, try to slow your thoughts down and be more conscious of each apology coming out of your mouth. You might be surprised how often you’re spilling the sorries, instead of moving forward with your career.

3. You Never Admit That You’re Wrong

The other side of this equation of apologizing is never ever saying you’re in the wrong. Instead of taking responsibility for something that went badly on your watch, you throw coworkers under the bus and try to claw your way over the pile of mangled bodies.

“Mistakes can be hard to digest, so sometimes we double down rather than face them. Our confirmation bias kicks in, causing us to seek out evidence to prove what we already believe,” Kristen Wong points out in the New York Times. “When you refuse to admit your mistakes, you are also less open to constructive criticism, experts said, which can help hone skills, rectify bad habits and improve yourself over all.”

How to fix it: Nobody likes someone who isn’t a team player. Being a part of a group of hard working professionals is about wearing some big boy/girl pants and saying, “that was my bad, and I have a plan to make it right.”

Nobody likes someone who isn't a team player. Being a part of a group of hard working professionals is about wearing some big boy/girl pants and saying, 'that was my bad, and I have a plan to make it right.'Click To Tweet

4. Fear of the Unknown

You never want to take on new work because you’re out of your comfort zone, but the willingness to take on new and unusual tasks will be noted by those above (and below) you. Being the first to say “that’s not in my job description” will also be noted, but not in a good way.

How to fix it: Break your fear by figuring out something you’d like to learn that relates to your field. Maybe it’s an advanced degree course or just a new software program. When the decision lies in your own hands, you can ease into that discomfort like a warm bathtub, till it’s juuuuust right.

5. Waiting Until You’re “Ready” For That Promotion or Raise

It can be super stressful when you’re asking the boss for some long-awaited recognition for a job well done. Whether you’re after a new job title or the proper compensation for what you do every day, take our advice and get it done sooner rather than later. Don’t let someone less deserving hopscotch their way past you when you’re waiting for the “right moment” to make your move.

How to fix it: Do your homework. You can use the PayScale Salary Survey and figure out exactly what you’re worth. Go in with hard data, like ours, and some solid examples of how you’ve worked your butt off to benefit the company, and you’ll come out of it with a smile and a sense of relief. What are you waiting for?


What bad habits are keeping you back at work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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