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The Biggest Mistake You’re Probably Making Right Now in Your Career


With the new year comes time to reflect upon your career and really take stock of the situation, assessing both the positive and negative aspects. One of the best actions you can take is to pinpoint the mistakes you’re making in your professional life and vow to change your ways. Here are five critical missteps that could be hampering your career satisfaction and advancement opportunities and how to fix them.


You Fail to Negotiate

A bump in salary after you’ve won several service awards or landed a big client is not at all unusual, yet you may demure on asking for what you’re worth. If you’re saddled with too many projects and need to negotiate a more fair distribution, your shy nature may be holding you back. Learning to negotiate is a critical skill that can affect everything from your position to your paycheck. Role play negotiation with a trusted friend or your spouse. Negotiate a lower rate for your car insurance or television service. This will make interactions at work smooth and positive.


You Don’t Say No

Whether it’s a coworker who constantly needs your help or you say yes to more work than you can comfortably handle, being a ‘yes man’ can come back to bite you. If you are constantly overworked and overwhelmed, you don’t have time built into your schedule to attend emergency meetings or retool a project that’s going off the rails. This can lead to sloppy work, missed deadlines and dissatisfied clients. Learn to say no by role-playing with a friend who is direct and has no problem being assertive. Start small, such as declining to work on the office holiday party, and get comfortable with turning down requests.


Your Priorities and Process Are Unclear

Hours of your day can be eaten by tedious, unimportant busywork while your important projects and clients languish, or you simply have no process for tackling your workload. You need to have a plan for each day. Whether you use a scheduling app on your phone, keep a desk blotter or simply have a reminder list on a scrap of paper, you need to know what your priorities are and how you plan to satisfy them.


You Don’t Set Boundaries

Some careers will swallow every waking moment of your time, if you allow it. If you find yourself answering emails from your bed on a Sunday night or spending outrageous hours at your desk, you have likely failed to set proper boundaries between your personal and professional lives. You can begin by setting small rules, such as not answering your work phone past eight in the evening, then slowly scale back to a time you find acceptable. Refuse to deal with all but the most dire work emergencies while you’re on vacation. Firmly assert that your personal time is private and only to be interrupted by extremely important issues. This will give you time to relax and recharge your batteries, making you calmer and more productive at work.


You Haven’t Invested in Yourself

If you’ve been putting off enrolling in courses you need to complete your degree or you keep passing up continued education opportunities to focus on work, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Not only is investing in yourself important for your current job, it’s essential if you ever want to move up the ladder or branch out into other avenues of your field.


Managing your career is integral to your success and work/life balance. By avoiding these mistakes, you can have a prosperous career that doesn’t interfere with your personal life or run you ragged. This balanced approach will help you work to your full potential.


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