Twenty Five Dumbest Career Mistakes Smart People Make
- Working at changing your job or career when you are unhappy only.
- Waiting, especially for opportunities to fall into your lap.
- Deferring decisions until you are fired or burned out.
- Intellectualizing about where to go and how to get there.
- Hoping to fall into something by being a generalist.
- Allowing negative prophecies and despondency (the "nocebo" effect, the negative counterpart of the placebo) to overwhelm your career decisions.
- Coming to conclusions prematurely, without reflection ("chicken little syndrome")
- Imagining that you can read other people's minds without supporting evidence and corroboration.
- Taking every thing personally -- which makes you angry, guilty, or depressed.
- Believing that success in one area automatically translates to success in every area, without the need for the same effort that led to the first success.
- Assuming, without debate or doubt, what you imagine your critics say about you is true without bothering to determine its validity.
- Aspiring to be perfect in all things, especially when you set your standards unattainably high.
- Comparing yourself to others and accepting a negative and discouraging contrast (who can walk in the seven-league boots of genius?)
- Worrying about what you can't change instead of coping with what you can.
- Focusing on what you should have done in the past to the exclaim of what you can do in the future ("shoulda, woulda, coulda")
- Responding "yes--but" to every positive thought, intention, or bit of good advice; dreaming up improbable rationales to excuse obvious negatives.
- Deciding you must earn the same money, or maintain the same level of status, responsibility, or prestige in your next career or job.
- Believing you'll be hired to do something only for which you have been formally trained.
- Getting another degree when it isn't a requirement for work you'd like to do.
- Keeping your feelings of dissatisfaction to yourself, or dumping them on your family, friends, or in angry correspondence.
- Expecting your work life to bring you complete personal fulfillment.
- Burning your bridges behind you.
- Postponing gratification in your work.
- Holding onto an irrational belief that you owe a lifestyle commitment to your current employer or career, to your next job or career, or to a sizable investment in your expertise (which can be a form of habituation or 'addiction').
- Staying where you are for fear of failing elsewhere.
Many of these self-defeating career strategies are avoidable or alterable. You can do damage control by reminding yourself of your career transition assets. You can check off the mistakes on this list that remind you of your own thought patterns, and create your own list and label your own mistakes. You can "objectify" your transition strategies by frequent reference to this list...and by reality checks. You can change faulty thinking into re-interpretations of events.
You can interrupt a self-defeating strategy by naming it, and then revising it and energizing yourself, as you concentrate on your career transition assets. (Please see Phase I, "Assessment" at www.onlinecareerclinic.org). You can discipline your mind to focus on those positive thoughts that enhance or reinforce your assets. Without denying reality, you can affirm your transferable skills, and you can repeat these affirmations as often as necessary. You can also compare your own career transition with those of others. Please see Phase II, "Options Exploration Research" at www.onlinecareerclinic.org). Furthermore, you can implement these these strategies. Please see Phase III, “Implementation” at www.onlinecareerclinic.org.