5 Most Common Mistakes You Should Avoid in your Career
Having a career is like birthing a child. You have to nurse it and watch it grow. And by reflex, you are always thinking, worrying, happy or crying about it.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word career is defined as “a person’s course or progress through life (or a distinct portion of life)”. It can either be an occupation or a profession.
You will make mistakes in your career. Take my word on this. Those kinds of mistakes you’ll lay on the table and give yourself a good spanking for. Not because you are not smart – far from it – but mostly because you fail to learn from them or find a means to avoid them. Of course, there are some mistakes you can’t foresee even if you were the 3D version of Nostradamus.
But some of these mistakes are easily identified, but are consistently made by many people.
So go ahead, take a failure bow or read through to find out how you can avoid these career mistakes you might regret in years to come.
Mistake #1: You and your career are not a priority.
Most people spend all their time working IN their careers and not ON them. They focus on managing their job, literally feeding off the employer’s hand, but fail to manage their personal choices, career development and lives as a whole.
You don’t start having a bad career when the work is stressful or when the pay is low, it starts when you are not “self-ish” with your career plans. How so? When you don’t ask yourself the “what’s in it for me in the long run?” question, before you take up a job; or when you say “I’ll be satisfied when I get more money”, then you know you are just about selling off your happiness and entire career perhaps.
Tip: Always get clear about what is important to you personally and professionally. Get to work and make your life count.
Mistake #2: Don’t play to your strengths.
If you don’t love your work, it could be one of three reasons; you have a terrible boss, your salary is peanuts compared to the value you offer, or you are doing a job that strays you far from your passion.
Many people are in jobs and careers they have no passion for, much less something that plays to their key strengths.
They tolerate their work, plunging into drudgery for something they never woke up from their bed thinking about years before. They live very unhappy lives even though they smile with friends and make happy faces in meetings.
Tip: Spend ample time to discover your unique talents, strengths and natural styles. Discovery only happens when you push forth into the unknown, not when you shrink back in fear for every change you have to go through.
Mistake #3: Don’t stand out from the crowd.
This world is hard. There are many problems. No jobs, no money, less food, mean people. I know. But in this same world; we have people who are known as star performers, who have enough to eat and feed others, and a more than happy life to be thankful for.
These people we see far ahead – at the end of the spectrum – are there, not by luck, but because they either solve problems or make people happier (which is more like solving the problem of unhappiness). These people fail to be another face in the crowd, they differentiate themselves from the rest and make a name for themselves.
Tip: Be a beautiful you, be an attractive you, be a “you’ with a difference.
Mistake #4: Focus on Inputs instead of results.
Read non-fiction books in business, leadership, strategy, innovation and all sorts of Motivationals. Feed on Einstein, Steve Jobs, and Steven Spielberg’s brains combined. Then do nothing with all you’ve learned. And see the world beat a path to someone else’s door.
Information makes meaning when it is utilised, not when it is reserved. As with your job and career, if you focus solely on the activities in your job (meetings, plans, processes etc) without looking out for results and checking how your job affects your life; you’ll have no idea when you become irrelevant.
Tip: Focus your time on delivering outcomes and results, not processes.
Mistake #5: Put Money First Instead of Value Creation
At the start of your career, making money and cashing fat cheques shouldn’t be your main pursuit. You are bound to miss out on life as it is when you make money your driving force.
Money is a reward for value created.
Tip: please seek value, always! Pick up jobs that’ll make an impact, no matter how small. Money comes with value.
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