Are You Self-Sabotaging Your Career?

Posted on June 20, 2014.

I recently saw a segment on Good Morning America that profiled a  commercial around women saying they’re sorry too much.  It was eye opening as I find myself doing the same thing and realized it really is a form of self-sabotage.  But self-sabotage isn’t limited to women and it isn’t limited to your home life.  How many other little things do we do that can derail our careers?

·      Procrastinate.  It’s human nature to put off doing things we either don’t like to do or don’t know how to do. But consistently missing deadlines or always being the last person to deliver work product will ultimately sabotage your career potential.  Why not surprise everyone and be the first to actually get something done first?

·      Expect perfection. Contrary to your own perception of yourself, nobody is perfect! So why do you expect both your peers and your direct reports to be perfect? At best, it’s an annoying trait and at worst, it creates animosity and resentment. Consistently going over someone’s work, or being super critical, will quickly move you to the last rung of your career ladder.

·      Forget that inflection and tone have meaning.  Ever wonder why someone got riled up about something you said that was innocuous?  It’s likely that it wasn’t what you said, but how you said it.  Constant sarcasm and loud exchanges can create a negative reaction.  Just like body language, you need to be sensitive to how you’re being perceived, not just what you’re saying.

·      Wait to be rewarded.  It may not seem like putting your head down and working hard can sabotage your career, but look up for a minute and see who’s being promoted.  It’s not on purpose, but busy managers don’t always have the time to recognize your efforts.  Blowing your own horn, in a thoughtful, professional way is a good thing.  Over time, unrecognized hard work will cause resentment and quite honestly, it’s at least half your own fault.

·      Never apologizing.  Yes, the commercial addresses the issue of women saying they’re sorry too much.  But if every mistake or oversight is always someone else’s fault, it’s just as bad.  Take responsibility and accept the consequences of your actions.  You’ll be surprised at how quickly others will notice.

The issue with self-sabotage is that you’re not usually aware that you’re doing it. You think you may just have some bad habits, but that you’re not consciously trying to derail your own career.  Instead of just accepting your flaws, why not stop and ask yourself, what are you really afraid of?