In a quest for advancement personally or professionally, you may be focused on cultivating new habits and routines, adding in time for professional development activities. But equally important is removing the behaviors that unknowingly prevent your progress.
Here are five things to stop doing to instantly boost your career:
1. Telling yourself negative stories
The stories we tell ourselves are the most important words we speak because they play on repeat in our heads. When you fill your head with negative self-talk such as I’m not good enough, I’m not ready, or I’m just a __________ (whatever you are now), not a _________ (whatever you’d like to be), you prevent yourself from learning, growing, and stretching your wings. Until you believe in yourself, no one else will.
Instead, use a little compassion, and treat yourself the way you would a treasured friend. Words have power, especially those you say—or don’t say—to yourself. You’ll abandon limiting beliefs and adopt a growth-focused mindset by replacing self-sabotaging talk with self-affirming talk.
2. Saying yes to every ask
In a quest to be agreeable and accommodating, you may have inadvertently trapped yourself in a “yes-land,” agreeing to things you wish you hadn’t, that are unnecessary and that burn through your precious time—big mistake.
Leaders from Buffet to Jobs embraced the power of 'NO' to master decision-making and time management, which fueled their success. We must choose, with intention, what we say yes to and to what we say no. It all comes down to simplifying, prioritizing and protecting our time so we can focus our attention on what matters most.
If you want to grow your career, you need to learn to say no now, so you can say yes later.
3. Taking advice from people who haven’t achieved the results you want
There’s no shortage of people offering their unsolicited input, but you’re not obligated to use it. An excellent Glennon Doyle quote reminds us to “stop asking people for directions to places they’ve never been.” It’s easy for people to tell you what you should do, but if someone hasn’t been where you want to be or done what you want to do, think twice before following their advice.
Instead, seek counsel from those with whom you’re willing to trade places so you can learn from their roadmap and adapt it for your journey.
4. Surrounding yourself with people and things that don’t align with your goals
Your environment, which includes your friends, colleagues, location, habits and lifestyle, impacts you far more—for better or worse—than you realize; it always wins. You’ve likely grown and evolved, and what once worked for you has probably changed. As a result, you can’t make a significant, lasting change without altering some elements of your environment.
Remembe to be mindful of the company you keep and the activities that you engage in, and ask yourself if they support what you want to do, not just what you’ve done. Real growth happens when you align yourself with people and things that support your destiny, not your history.
5. Trying to be perfect
Here’s a hard-to-hear truth, especially for high achievers: perfect doesn’t exist.
Perfectionism is rooted in fear, a powerful emotion that often masquerades as a cloak of protection, keeping us from doing things that may cause us harm. But sometimes, the real damage comes from the inaction that fear enables.
When you tell yourself circumstances need to be perfect before you take action, or when you say you’ll do X when Y happens, you give up your power to external forces you can’t control. As a result, you’re stuck in a stagnant loop of procrastination.
One surefire way to combat perfectionism—and grow your career—is to take action; nothing trumps execution. Remember to aim for progress, not perfection.