Are You Sabotaging Your Own Career? Probably

Last Updated Jul 12, 2011 6:16 PM EDT

Are You Sabotaging Your Own Career When things don't go your way, it's a hell of a lot easier to blame it on someone else than take personal responsibility for what happened. Come on, don't sit there and tell me you've never done that. Of course you have. Everybody has.

I mean, doesn't it feel really good to go home and rant about your lunatic boss who makes your life a living hell or your coworker who got the promotion you deserved? Sure it does. Have a couple of drinks; it gets even better.

The only problem with that strategy is that, in all likelihood, you're full of it. Not only that, but on some level, you know it, which is why you get so pissed off. Well, here's the thing. Not only is that unhealthy for you, it's unhealthy for your career, too.

That's because the mechanism in play - self-limiting or self-destructive behavior - also happens to be a self-perpetuating infinite loop. Here's how it works:
  • Things don't go your way, so you get angry and blame others.
  • But, deep down, on some level, you know it's your own damn fault.
  • So you feel guilty and ashamed and beat yourself up.
  • That lowers your self-confidence and increases your self-doubt.
  • Your work performance suffers as a result.
Round and round it goes, and there you have it: self-perpetuating career self-sabotage.

Now, I bet you want to know how to stop it, how to break the loop. Well, therein lies the rub. While the first step to solving any problem is recognizing there is one, in this case, the second step is actually harder. That's because changing behavior you've spent a lifetime developing takes a lot of work.

In any case, it is doable, although it definitely isn't a slam dunk. Indeed, the first step is to recognize the signs that you have a problem. They're not at all obvious since most people aren't consciously aware of their own self-limiting or self-destructive behavior, so listen up:

5 Ways You Sabotage Your Own Career without realizing it:
  1. Believing that someone else is the problem. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the odds that there's some conspiracy to hold you back, that everyone's out to get you, that opportunity's there for all but you, or that all your bosses and coworkers are raging a**holes and backstabbing villains, are zero. That's right; it's you. And thinking it isn't, well, that's what actually holds you back.
  2. Putting yourself ahead of your company. I know it's counterintuitive, but the best way to get ahead is to put the needs of your company first, and for the simple reason that doing your job well and going above and beyond the call of duty will come back to you eventually. That's just the way it works. Nobody's going to go out on a limb and shower you with raises and promotions until you prove yourself capable, which means getting results ... for the company.
  3. Thinking you know better instead of listening and learning. Those who act as if they know it all and have overinflated opinions of themselves are usually overcompensating for deep feelings of inferiority and insecurity. And you know what? Everyone knows it but them. So, when you act that way instead of listening and learning, it's like holding up a giant sign that says, "I act big but I really feel small."
  4. Feeling entitled to something, anything. People throw the "entitlement" word around a lot these days, but there's a simple truth in business: You're not entitled to squat. If that's news to you, then good, you heard it here first. Oh, except for one thing. You're entitled to work your tail off and maybe someday make something of yourself; that's about it. The truth is that whatever you feel entitled to you'll never get.
  5. Drinking the Kool-Aid, i.e. that there's some magic secret to getting ahead. Becoming successful in the real world requires every bit of whatever brains God gave you, the wisdom you learned along the way, and pretty much all your energy and focus. By definition, every brain cycle and moment you spend thinking there's a better way - a magic way - works against you by detracting from what it really takes to succeed: brains, hard work, and learning from experience.
So, did you learn anything from all this? If not, feel free to blame it all on me in the comment section. Go ahead, I can take it ... but it still won't do you any good.

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