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Six Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Career

Published on LHH.com 10/27/2016

Having a fulfilling and rewarding career is a huge priority. But there comes a moment in just about everyone’s working life when we suddenly realize our careers have become limited. We’re not getting the promotions we apply for. Or, we have ceased to be the go-to person for important projects.

It wasn’t always that way. There was a time when many of us thought the sky was the limit in our career growth. But then, something happened and our prospects dimmed.

The reality for most of us is that we will—either consciously or unconsciously—make certain mistakes that sabotage our own careers. The best defense against these career-limiting mistakes is to acknowledge them up front and then make the effort to avoid them.

To that end, here is a list of the top six ways we tend to sabotage our own careers:

1. You will experience diminishing career opportunities if you consistently fail to add clear and visible value. Or, if the results of your work are not easily quantifiable or measurable. Or, if you always have an excuse for failing to meet a deadline. Why would any organization promote someone who cannot demonstrate a clear value?

2. Not being committed to the organization or its common purpose is a straight path to undermine your career. Commitment and loyalty are highly desirable qualities but not easily quantified. Fulfilling your commitments, making it clear you are giving your very best at all times are clear signs of commitment. This is all the more important if you hold a position of responsibility or leadership.

3. If you defend yourself from change and new ideas, sabotage new initiatives in favor of the status quo or «the way we have always done things here,» you will lose credibility and limit your career. Employers want enthusiasm and a desire to innovate, learn new things, change or improve. People who can’t do any of these things are seen as expendable.

4. If you quarrel frequently with your co-workers, if it is always exhausting to deal with you, or if you go from one conflict to the other making no effort to control poor behavior, you may be fired. Employers do not want constant negativity or bad attitude.

5. If you are indiscreet or disclose confidential information that may harm the organization, even inadvertently, you’ll limit yourself. People who are constantly gossiping, passing on rumors and secrets, or bad-mouthing co-workers and managers, are typically among the first to go when the headcount needs to come down.

6. If you try to cover your mistakes and do everything you can to hide them from managers and co-workers, or if you fail to take responsibility for errors and blame others, you will undermine your credibility.


The good news is that it’s never too late to start turning around your career prospects by adopting a new attitude and approach to work. Remember, remain positive, open to change and adopt an accountable mindset in everything you do. People who can accept these simple demands will find career paths with no limits.