It's common to map out career goals at the start of a new year, and yours most likely entail getting a raise, snagging a promotion, or doing more work that's fulfilling and stimulating. But if you fall victim to the following mistakes, you could wind up taking a step backward instead.
1. Having a bad attitude on the job
When it comes to succeeding professionally, the right attitude goes a long way. If you constantly grumble about deadlines, push back when you're asked to cover for absent colleagues, or complain about your peers openly, you're likely to get yourself a bad reputation. But if you make an effort to stay positive in the face of pressure, help others out, and say nice things about your co-workers, you're more likely to be regarded as the type of employee managers want on their team.
2. Not learning new skills
If you've been doing the same job for a while and have gotten pretty good at it, you may be inclined to coast along at work and enjoy the fact that your role is relatively stress-free. But if you don't make an effort to boost your skills, you're likely to find yourself stuck in a dead-end job with little room for improvement. A better bet? Identify a few areas you're lacking in, and work on growing your knowledge, whether by taking classes, shadowing co-workers you can learn from, or even doing some research online.
3. Avoiding challenging tasks
Taking on difficult assignments at work opens you up to the risk of failure. But not volunteering for challenging tasks leaves you at risk of never getting promoted, or never being regarded as a competent employee worthy of recognition. And that's certainly not good for your career. The next time an opportunity arises to step outside your comfort zone, take it. You can ask your colleagues or manager for advice on how to handle that assignment, but make the effort to take something on that's clearly new and even intimidating.
4. Failing to grow your network
Often, it's the people you know who dictate what career-related opportunities come your way. If you don't make an effort to connect with new people in your industry, you could miss out on job openings or even the chance to grow your knowledge. Rather that run that risk, make an effort to get out there this year. Attend more conferences, sign up for local meetups, or ask some of your existing contacts to introduce you to their peers.
5. Resigning yourself to a job you hate
Chances are, you spend at least 40 hours a week at your job, plus a number of additional hours answering email at night or logging on during weekends to address pressing issues. It's one thing to hustle for a job you love, but if your job makes you miserable, you could reach the point where you burn out completely, or you stop trying and your performance starts suffering. Instead of pushing yourself to stick out a bad job, make an effort to find yourself a new one. Update your resume, see what's out there, and save up some money so that if switching jobs means taking a pay cut, you're able to absorb it. You deserve to be happy with what you do -- especially if you're going to work hard at it.
Now that we're kicking off a new year and decade, your goal should be to move your career in the most positive direction possible. Avoid these mistakes, and with any luck, that's exactly what will happen.