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Do you wonder why the doors of success stay locked, despite your hard work and dedication?  If so, then read on for some simple solutions to career holdbacks.  

Listed from least to greatest significance to career failure, each mistake is followed-up by the problem it imposes and suggested solutions for a fast remedy. 

Consider each one, but don't stop with our list.  Instead, use it for inspiration to unveil other related mistakes and problems in your career, otherwise overlooked, in order to begin independent, proactive initiatives to attain success.

Track your progress and remember to record each accomplishment in overcoming your obstacles.  Documented examples of your professional value can be used to attain promotions, raises or future employment opportunities.  Let's get started!


10. Stick only with your major, minor or area of emphasis, associated with your degree.

Problem:

It's pretty obvious that what most of us wanted 10 or 20 years ago is quite a bit different than that of present day.  Yet, many of us picked our career path many years ago and now lack enthusiasm for what we do.   

Why keep doing something that doesn't improve your chances of long-term success, which includes professional satisfaction?  

It's not enough, in this tough economy or competitive job market, to just look good on paper, do what you know or have been educated to do.  Employers see through you.  They know if what you do, or say you want, isn't your passion.  

When you're not passionate about your career, your employer, and other powers that be, also become disinterested in you, your role and value to their organization.  This makes you invisible in the workplace and job market.  While you're invisible, your mistakes, lack of initiative and missed projections are ironically very clear and obvious.

Common synonyms for invisible include: unnoticeable - slight - small - inconsequential - negligible - indefinite - unapparent - inappreciable - tiny - microscopic - minuscule.  Do you see where this is going? 

That's right.  They are all antonyms for "big success"! What words would currently describe you and your value to your current employer, customers and/or clients?

Solution:

Be seen, stay important and make what you do a value to anyone that contributes to your income, job security and overall success!

Research what it would take to get educated, experienced or trained doing something that you love.   

Find a path that really interests you so much that it closely competes with your time spent when you're not working.  Nearly half of your waking life is spent working. Shouldn't it be just as good or better than the other half of your time?  

This doesn't mean you need to quit your day job to pursue your passion, but make a plan and a time frame to reach certain mile markers, in order to reach your overall goal, to get you out of your, "this is all I know", frame of mind.

9. Wait for problems to fix themselves.

Problem:

You may think you're pretty good at what you do and that people don't notice when you put projects, problems, complaints or requests on the back burner.  But, they do and you better believe your boss, customers, clients and co-workers are all onto you!  

Solution:

Next time something comes up that isn't urgent, but requires your attention, get it resolved as soon as possible.  This means, if it requires you to skip lunch, stay late or reorganize your day to get it done in 24 hours or less, then do it. 

Make it a new goal to keep non-urgent problems from piling up on your proverbial (or actual) desk.  Your new initiative will make a big difference to others and actually decrease your stress and anxiety that results from numerous incomplete tasks.  

Taking greater control of your tasks and responsibilities and becoming more visibly vested in your employer's, clients' and customers' success, by giving more than required, takes off a great deal of pressure and scrutiny over things you can't control, that commonly have a negative effect on your career.

8. Participate in negative, workplace banter.

Problem:

This is one of the biggest mistakes rookies make at work.  It's so easy to get sour about your job when one or more co-workers or customers talk smack about your company, workplace, boss, other customers or co-workers. 

It may seem harmless to share your own negative remarks or even just listen, but know that, second only to 12 year old girls' middle school gossip, the workplace is a hotbed of gossip junkies eager to take what's been shared to the vary people that were the topic of conversation.  Your name will certainly come up and despite the gossip junkie being the one to have started the gossip in the first place, their devious report to the offended person(s) will surely leave out their involvement.

Furthermore, the more you participate, the more your perspective is damaged about who you represent, serve and/or manage.  Pretty soon, your opinions are so skewed that you can hardly stand to go to work each day and in many cases, your employer's feelings become mutual.  

The worse part is that many of those gossip, fire starters are only playing office politics to bring you down, promote negativity or office drama in an effort to damage your rank or standing with your employer and improve their own. 

Solution:

Every job and employer has negative crap.  No way to make it sound better than it is-  It's in every company, department and position and it will never, ever completely go away. When one problematic thing or person leaves, another pops-up.  

It's okay to b*tch once-in-awhile, just don't let it overshadow the positive stuff.  Moreover, learn to become a positive influencer with less talk and more doing.  Fix the things you don't like and keep the rest of the negative minutia, that's beyond your control, out of primary focus as much as possible.  

If you have a current, negative influencer involved in your everyday tasks and duties, remember not to feed their quest for supporters.  Stay on the outside of their gossip circles.  Also, don't engage in a debate of good over evil, right or wrong. 

Instead stay reserved and unapproachable when he/she attempts a negative bull session with you and your co-workers.

It's not your job to make sure he/she is happy with their job.  

Suggestion when you're the boss

However, if you're the boss, reassert your expectations for improved morale and production, with goals that must be met in order to stay employed, per your organizations employee handbook.  Be specific with every one of the violations the employee has made, in order to get his/her to address the issues you bring up.

While micro-managing can be considered a negative management style, requiring the employee to document his/her daily tasks in an effort to increase productivity until goals are met, sales are made and "talk time" has ceased, can be extremely effective in either weeding out those who hinder your department's success and/or sending the message that such insubordination will not be tolerated. 

Just know it's risky and may result in staff resignations and some pushback in certain circumstances.  Make sure you have a clear plan before you begin. 

Refrain from an ongoing micro-management style, which usually reduces employee morale, productivity and independent problem-solving.  All necessary components for you and your subordinate's success. 

Remember, the goal is to manage motivated, ambitious, confident employees.  They are the least likely to respond positively to doubtful managers who increase their current duties with tasks that do not support their direct success.  Expect great things from great people with confidence in their ability to independently manage their daily responsibilities. 

DMK Analogy

They'll never win their marathons if they're spending their time documenting how to stand.

7. Tell your boss how you really feel.

Problem:

They don't care.  Really, they don't want to hear how you feel about each problem and/or every ineffectual workplace process, unless you're ready to make individual efforts to fix them.  

Even worse is to tell your boss you're looking for new employment or that you're being offered employment elsewhere to get them address problems that concern you, unless you're ready for them to call your bluff and work you out of the company (i.e. micro-manage). 

Threats to leave or go over your managers head to illicit a response is definitely not the ways to get a raise, more respect or less time spent at work.  At best, you'll be considered less retainable, a non-team player and possibly the first candidate up for a permanent vacation from your job (regardless if everything you say is accurate and more respect is deserved).

Solution:

If you have problems at work, independently address what you have the power and authority to solve.  Then offer your boss the problem with a solution for their approval or action. 

It provides limited value to bring up problems without reasonable solutions or suggestions to fix them.

e.g. If this article provided you the holdbacks in your career without solutions to eradicate them, we would only be adding more stress about things you may have not formerly been concerned, rather than a valuable means to improve your career.

Telling your boss what's wrong and providing a reasonable solution or multiple options to solve the problem(s) makes you a value to your organization and personally more successful in your career and life.

If you think it's time to leave, find something better and move on.

If you wish to seek help above your manager's paygrade, follow the proper channels of upward communication and just do-it.  Stealthily.

6. Hold onto everything and put it before what's really important.

Problem:

Many people hold onto things at work far too long.  Be it accounts, customers, parking spaces, titles, employees or whatever.  The principal is the same.  Let go of the floaties.  If it promotes your coasting or pulls you down, then set it free. 

Your career gets stale when you rely on the status quo to get by, regardless how great it was in it's day (and their was definitely a day...yesterday). 

It's not always easy to live for today, while planning your future and disallowing the past to provide too much good, bad or indifferent to your future successes.  The hardest  part is knowing what isn't promoting your climb to the top, when to let it go and what forward-thinking initiatives would benefit you.

Solution:

The parking space is the prime example of a platitude that can negatively influence your ability and overall production at work.  Does it really help?  Maybe.  But can it really hurt?  Most likely.  It simply causes more harm than good. Here's why.   

Titles, honors, awards & company ranking is fluff.  These things shouldn't be all that you want to achieve or rely upon in order to gain respect.  They should be documented for new employment, business and marketing opportunities and the experience of their attainment used a basis for senior-level performance and skill.  But, they should not block your hunger for continued success. 

e.g.   You're not a doctor because your degree or license says so.  Those merely document and give you authority to practice.  The many years of education, training and experience brand your self-identity.  Belief in your own worth provides you the confidence to diagnose and treat your patients.  When it comes down to it, your credentials, though legally required, are not what make you a good doctor, they only document it.  If you had to rely on either your skill or documented success to save a life, your skill would be all the patient would need.  Remember, it's John Smith, MD not MD, John Smith.

Get serious about your specific qualities, detailed experience and competitive advantage (that which sets you aside from competitors in your field of expertise).  These are what make you important, reliable, needed and an expert in your profession.  The other things like titles, awards, "parking spaces" &  general accolades should be supportive of that, not relied upon instead. 

So ditch the spot, fire the nonproducer, let go of the dead wait in your account list and focus on your most valuable abilities, skills and experience to build career muscle.  

5. Fight your critics.

Problem:

There are two types of critics.  Just two.  The ones who mean well and the ones who don't.

When you succeed, those who don't mean well will still criticize you.  It's just an unfortunate marker of success.   When you fail, those who don't mean well empower themselves with your losses, rejections and/or mistakes with unhelpful criticism.  These types of criticism's are pretty obvious and with our suggestions below, should be easy to overcome.

It only get's complicated when the ones who don't mean well have some authority over you. 

Solution:

Stop wasting time fighting your critics.  Instead, work proactively and reduce your energy defending your choices, decisions or successes, whenever possible. 

Those who criticize you when you succeed can be the most dangerous because they are a barrier to your long-term success after you achieve your goals.  This means, after you found a means to succeed, did all the work and made sacrifices, they pop up to mess with your head and damage your sustainable growth and success.  So, the simple way to deal with them is to ignore them.  Don't answer to their criticism or rejections.  In all cases, you'll lose, not because they will prove their critique of you is correct, but because they wasted your valuable time debating with idiots.

Just jump right over their hurdle and be stronger and faster to get over the next one.  In fact, use their criticism as a compliment. 

There is an ancient proverb, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."  Though somewhat abstract, the take-away in this situation is that those with ill intentions to your success are more likely to benefit from your loses rather than your victories.  Why would they help you improve upon yourself, to their detriment?  They shouldn't be relied upon to provide helpful criticism.  

"The success of your actions is the failure of your enemy."

So, if you're drawing negative feedback from known critics or competitors, you're probably doing something right!  So, keep doing it.

Those, criticizing you or your actions, who are sincere, people who either have provided mentorship, have nothing to gain by being critical and/or those with mutual gain, should be reasonably considered.  This doesn't mean you need to make changes or do things their way in order to satisfy their critique. 

Just know you may have somethings out of whack and use your experience and skills to get back on track.  Remember, for every one goal you wish to achieve, there are usually numerous solutions to achieve it.  But, it only takes one obstacle to fail. 

Don't limit your potential by being closed minded and don't limit your success by being a follower.   It's a fine line, but with experience and wisdom you'll find it easier to know when to accept criticism, when to make changes and when to stay firm to your position or current course of action. 

The result of such experience and wisdom reaches beyond your career, in that it provides the leadership for one's life and achievement of the greatest successes of one's lifetime.

When you have no other choice but to answer to the insincere criticism of another, such as the case of an authority figure giving insincere criticism and their criticism prevents you from succeeding, consider the following options: 

  • Quit and find a similar position within the same organization or with another company.
  • Request specific written tasks to implement and further document the result of his/her criticism and expectations.
  • Professionally present documented reasons, that are relevant to what you did, that caused you to fall into his/her disfavor.
  • Make reasonable changes that do not negatively affect your current production or performance in an attempt to improve relations with the critic.
  • Inform your superior of the problems with his/her requests and/or expectations, based on tangible facts, figures and/or history.
  • As a last effort, after you have documented your attempt to address their disapproval, without loss to your productivity, growth or income, discuss the matter with his/her superior.  Be prepared to bring the problem and solution, along with all documented data that supports your position and attempt(s) to gain approval from your immediate supervisor.  Stick to the facts and speak in short, specific sentences to stay on topic, be respectful of his/her time and nonjudgmental of your critic (even though some loathing may exist).

4. Focus only on your job and not your career.

Problem:

One of the most common rookie mistakes, when building a career, is to focus only on the associated tasks and duties of the position.  This will make you a valuable asset to the company, but provide limited value to your overall career.  

Solution:

During your course of employment in an position, it's important to think of yourself and your family first and company second.  This means to never lose sight of the reason you work so hard.  Most companies will convey the opposite expectation, even those who claim to be family forward. 

This doesn't mean you should openly convey your individual goals superseding that of your employer.   Your service to your company, workplace team and clients should never attenuate your personal success and value.  In acting in your own best interest, you should seek every connection available regarding those who can be of value to your long-term success.  Stay assured that if you value your own success, a worthwhile employer will also reap the benefits.  If they make requests or demands that contradict your success, they are not worthy of your abilities or service.

Value your business relationships like tangible assets.  In doing your job and providing dedicated service to your employer, do not devalue your business relationships.  Ever. 

Take every opportunity to accept your company's offers to pay for additional education or seminars that would increase your value as a potential job candidate and/or improve your performance or production with your current employer. 

3. Constantly want more of the same thing.

Problem:

Career success comes in all shapes and sizes.  It's common for those who value career success to constantly strive to improve.  They are correct, however, many continue to to engage in the same activities that are nonproductive or fail to provide individual growth necessary to reap the vast benefits of a successful vocation.    

Solution:

Know when to say when.  Know when to seek new things and/or challenges for self-improvement rather that just career advancement. 

Realize that through-out your career, you will encounter peaks and valleys in growth.  Usually, as you mature, you will eventually realize the reward for your hard work and ability to avoid burn-out.  

In managing your career growth responsibly and with overall, long-term growth top-of-mind, you will have a better chance of loving what you do and making a good income doing it. 

If you're not sure when to accelerate and when to pump the brakes, consider your career much like any potential investment.  Consult trusted advisors and mentors, take more risks and opportunities in the beginning of your career and learn to trust your instincts when certain opportunities arise that seem like a poor match with your overall goals.  

Don't discontinue the overall pursuit of personal growth, wisdom and happiness.  These continuous assets will help you determine when your career has reached a level that requires less growth and more security so that you can enjoy the reward of your career choices, with living the life you desire with the people you love!

2. Overvalue the advice of successful people.

Problem:

It's really easy to want advice from those who have been successful.  Successful people dominate the market on career guides and books.  In many cases, these people are extremely strong-willed and confident, as well as lucky, well-connected and in some cases, from an esteemed background. 

Those who don't possess some, or all, of those last three assets, have every reason to be convinced that what they chose in their life, the direction they decided to take and how they did it, is a basic recipe for success meant to be shared with anyone who will listen.  Add with it their own strong personality, opinions and respect and a best-seller is born. 

The only problem is that to be a strong leader of your own destiny and a self-motivated individual, you need to think for yourself and make your own path rather than solely follow that of others.  This may be why the self-help market is so strong yet it's outturn, by nature, can be less helpful than that of an actual coach or career counselor who knows when you should act independently of your mentor(s) in an effort to take responsibility for your success and happiness. 

Solution:

Open your mind to the opinions, resources and guides of others, but don't let their history of success overshadow your ability to solve your own problems.  It's great to get into the mind of a great thinker, businessperson or innovator through books, programs or seminars; but, too much of one type of successful person could do more harm then good. 

Self-help is okay when you seek information and guidance from a wide range of sources and limit your dependence on one central method to reach success (especially when it's not yours).  Keep your opinion of success and career satisfaction your own and know when to stop reading about what you should be doing and just do it.

It's not enough to understand successful people.  Research those people or companies that made mistakes, too.   Their mistakes could easily have been avoided had they had someone, like themselves provide forewarning.

Don't let strong or bullyish people tell you you're unsuccessful because you're not doing it their way.  Just like this article, we can tell you what you may be doing wrong, but in our suggestions to solve your problems or improve your chances for more success, you should develop your own, specific solutions geared directly for your personal interests, professional expectations and goals. 

This is why the study of a wide range of subjects and people is extremely helpful in strengthening your personal abilities for overall achievements, creative thinking and problem solving.  In doing so, you will better utilize your own background, skills and personality in order to produce a path to self-career management and life success.

1.  Pick the wrong profession...again.

Problem.

Like mentioned above, what interests you when you're in your late teens or early twenties is often different than your mid-life.  Furthermore, as life provides many twists and turns, it's not uncommon to need a career change, at least once in your lifetime.  Once you determine you need a course correction, there are several questions to consider:

  • Will the profession make you enough money? 
  • Is there growth and demand in that industry or specialty? 
  • Do you have an interest in that field of study and the passion to make the sacrifices in order to attain it? 

Without nearly all of these considerations covered, you could easily be headed down the road with insufficient means to long-term sustainability, growth and career satisfaction.

Solution:

Don't pick your profession on only one or two of the above listed needs.  Select a career path that can not only provide you income and job security by industry, specialty and/or field of study, but will continue to provide attainable challenge and interest for a long period of time. 

Choose your career yourself and don't let anyone overly involve themselves in your career choices, education or quest.  The career you choose is one that will influence your overall happiness, security and confidence.  It should be your responsibility to provide all three, as well as, your right to choose the profession and path to achieve it.

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