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career, mistakes, tips, advice

Image by bplanet, via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The following is an excerpt from my latest St. Louis Post-Dispatch Career Column. You can read the whole article here.

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I’m sure any of us who have been in the workplace for a while could write a book on what we wish we knew when we were younger.

We all make missteps in our career and hopefully we learn from them. But there are some reoccurring missteps I see way too often as a career coach. These are missteps that can lead to chronic frustration — and when you’re not happy with where you are in your career and life, everyone around you feels it. So for your sake AND that of your loved ones, consider these three missteps everyone can and should avoid.

1. Not choosing the career that really fits you.

In the economy of the past decade, many people have taken a job simply because it’s a job. This is usually a position you have the skills to perform, but you know you can’t reach your full potential in doing. But hey, it pays the bills. You start to justify why you should just stay comfortable — but in reality that “comfort” is really just plain old “existence.” And “existence” never leads to satisfaction. If you’re not pursuing something you’re passionate about, you’re wasting your time.

2. Not reading the culture and what behaviors get rewarded.

Fair or not, every organization has its own unique set of workplace behaviors that get rewarded. I once had a client who was very talented in selling medical equipment, however he was terrible at tracking data and results for his territory. He was one of the organization’s top sales people and presumed he would never be let go because his numbers were so good. But he failed to understand his boss was research-orientated, seeking reliable sales information and data that would allow the organization to capitalize on trends moving into the future. So, within a year, his boss let him go. What are you doing that’s not getting rewarded at work? Or more importantly, what aren’t you doing that DOES get rewarded at work? Understand this and it will make a lot of things clear — including whether or not you should pursue employment at a more fitting organization.

3. Not directing your career growth.

We are all creatures of habit, which makes it easy to become complacent in our careers. If anything, we just hope our bosses will recognize we’re doing a good job and promote us. And when that doesn’t happen, we get bitter. But what if your boss doesn’t even know you want a promotion? Never presume your manager knows what you are thinking. It’s your job…  Read the rest of this Career Column here.