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Small habits that may be killing your career

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

You will often hear people say:'I am my worst enemy' while others will tell you that:'You are your worst enemy'! That statement might be a hard pill to swallow, but guess what? Change comes from within. What minute habits are you cultivating in your personal life that may be killing your career?

1. Negative self-talk

Self-care and self-love are words that have become key in our lives daily, especially with the ongoing pandemic. In a world where we have to be apart, love and compassion ought to flow from within. It is normal to have that not-so-still voice in our heads come up once in a while. It is, however, up to you to control what you tell it. You can either entertain it or shut it down. Negative self-talk will kill your career as it makes you doubt yourself and your capability to perform your tasks at your place. This will either translate to you not doing the tasks at all or underperforming. One way to help reduce negative self-talk is just by doing the exact opposite. Give yourself daily positive affirmations.

2. Procrastination

Be it doing your dishes, making your bed, or fixing that bulb in your house. We have all pushed doing something to a later time for one reason or another. It has been said, procrastination is the thief of time. This is a habit that is killing your career. Procrastination leads to a build-up of tasks and hence you will find yourself in a situation where you have too much to do and not enough time to do it all. Having a set priority list with approximate times on when you finish a task, helps you set realistic targets and get things done on time. In case you are not sure whether you are procrastinating here is what happens in the mind of a procrastinator.

3. Having an I can do it all on my own attitude

Asking for help can be hard to do but it is probably one of the most undervalued skills one can have. The inability to ask for help may be due to one's ego, position, or simply not wanting to look as if they do not know what they are doing. This will eventually translate to poor performance or you will spend more time than required on one task that did not require as much time had you asked for help. But as Bill Withers sang, 'Lean on me when you're not strong'. Ask around, ask Google, or better yet, get a mentor who will guide you when you need guidance be it professionally or personally.

4. Being unresponsive

This is most commonly referred to as 'Blue ticks' in Kenya. It is a reference to the WhatsApp feature that shows that one has read your message. This all boils down to poor communication. Be it responding to emails or work-related phone calls, this habit can kill your career. In any team environment, communication should not be compromised. The importance of your response is important now more than ever with more people working remotely. Just confirming receipt of an email plays a key role in knowing how reliable you are.

5. Lack of Social Skills

I recently came across a Tweet that said, 'Reading the room is one of the most undervalued skills.' Making inappropriate jokes, looking at your phone while someone is talking to you, fidgeting constantly, the list is long. These are some of the habits that you might catch yourself doing even unaware. After all, a study in the USA showed that we look at our phones after 12 minutes on average. However, you need to control such habits by practicing or by putting in place measures that will ensure that you will not keep doing them. Using tools such as a stress ball to control fidgeting and applications on your phone to control and monitor screen time have been known to help.

Keeping in touch with current affairs by watching the news and being conscious of what is happening around you will also go a long way in reducing inappropriate jokes as well.

6. Being Sloppy/Careless

This transcends through various scopes but simply comes down to, attention to detail. Spelling mistakes (read that again), punctuation marks, did you spot the difference if there was any? These are everyday things that you are ignoring but are killing your career. If you are in doubt, you can always ask a colleague to go through whatever task you were asked to do for a second time to get an extra pair of eyes. This will help you in seeing mistakes that you may have not seen before.

7. Having a know-it-all attitude

It is said, if you are the smartest person in a room, then you are probably in the wrong room. Having a mindset that you know everything, might be a habit that is killing your career. There is always room to learn more and know more, life has a way of showing us that. This on a professional level as well as a personal level. Career development is necessary when you are seeking a promotion at your workplace or when you want to know more about what’s new in your area of expertise just to name but a few.

No one is perfect, but you can always be better today than you were yesterday. Working on eliminating these habits, might just be the secret to unlocking your career. So why don't you go and start with the person in the mirror?

Written by Evelyne Mbithe Musembi

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