10 Career-Killing Habits to Drop in 2019

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The New Year is an excellent time to re-evaluate the state of your professional life and take honest stock of your accomplishments and strengths, as well as the shortcomings or bad habits that may be holding you back from achieving the career or success that you want.

Falling into a rut at work by forming poor professional habits can have a cumulative effect on nearly every aspect of your life. The negative ramifications that these bad habits can affect everything from your job satisfaction, stress levels, earning potential, career path or opportunities for advancement, interpersonal relationships at work and at home, physical health, and your overall sense of happiness and well-being.

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Here’s a list of 10 of the most common unhealthy, counter-productive, and just all around “bad” habits that many professionals find they’ve slipped into over time. If you find yourself identifying with anything on this list, take advantage of the holiday break and a new year to push the reset button on your professional interactions, and set yourself up for a much better work life in 2019.

1. Procrastination: Some studies show that 1 in 5 people are chronic procrastinators, who, when severe enough, can suffer things like “broken marriages, lost jobs, deflated dreams, financial disarray, and self-esteem issues” as a result of putting everything off. Chronic procrastination – the kind that begins to seriously derail you from your goals and responsibilities – is one of the more toxic work habits one can fall into. And, it seems that there are just as many strategies and tips for overcoming procrastination as there are people who procrastinate. So, while there may not be one “right” way for everyone to kick this bad habit, if you know you’re a serial procrastinator, make the effort to find the tools or techniques or support that works for you. Your career will thank you (and reward you) for it in the year ahead.

2. Self-Doubt: Crippling self-doubt is like being mentally and emotionally shackled at work and can prevent you from achieving your goals, realizing your true potential, growing as a professional, taking risks or seizing opportunities, and finding happiness at work. Overcoming self-doubt and building a healthier sense of worth and self-esteem isn’t an overnight process – to truly break this bad habit requires a lot of reflection and introspection to uncover the root of your insecurity and then hard work and strategizing to break the habit. But, the longer you put this process off, the harder the habit is to break and the more damage it does to your career.

3. Lack of Commitment: If you feel disengaged at work and care little to nothing about what you’re doing, who you’re working with, or what you’re trying to achieve, it’s fairly likely that your satisfaction levels with your current professional situation will low… at best. As the New Year approaches, stop “coasting” along in your career and ask yourself the tough questions around why you have a lack of commitment or excitement around your job – Are you deeply dissatisfied with your employer? Do you work in a toxic environment with negative people? Do you crave a career shift or a job change? Do you no longer believe in or agree with the mission of your organization? Or, is it you? Are personal issues affecting your motivation levels at work? Be honest with yourself about why you’re so disengaged because only then can you take truly effective steps towards a more fulfilling career path.

4. Constant Complaining: This bad workplace habit doesn’t just affect you but your colleagues as well, which means your professional reputation will surely suffer if you’re known as the office “complainer.” Once you have the reputation as a chronic complainer, this can affect the way people treat you at work,  whether or not they choose to collaborate with you, and even whether or not you’re offered opportunities or promotions.

5. Lack of punctuality: Whether you’re always late or figuring out creative ways to sneak out of work early, not being on time and fully present most of the time is a red flag to your colleagues and boss that you just don’t care. If the problem gets too out of control, you could even face more serious consequences, potentially losing your job. If you find yourself struggling with punctuality, perhaps examine if you’re masking deeper feelings of dissatisfaction at work and how you can address the root of the problem. Maybe it’s time to find a job that you’re motivated to show up for? If it’s just a personal bad habit, there’s no excuse for continuing with the bad habit.

6. Gossip: Workplace gossip is a key ingredient for a toxic environment, and it is a sure-fire way to destroy trust among co-workers and squelch collaboration and productivity levels. It’s a divisive activity that pits colleague against colleague and creates uncomfortable interactions or office hierarchies. Resist the temptation to engage whenever and however you can.

7. Risk-aversion: In order to grow as a professional – whether that means learning new skills or competencies, achieving a higher level of seniority, taking on more and more responsibility or leadership roles, or innovating – you have to take risks and make yourself uncomfortable as you learn new things or assume new roles. If you’re too afraid to ever take any kind of risks in your career, you’ll be likely be missing out on opportunities to advance yourself professionally and personally.

8. Neglecting your health: If you’re not taking care of yourself, your workload will surely suffer. From lack of sleep or exercise to poor diet to more serious bad health habits like substance abuse, the effects of neglecting your overall health can range from the mildly disruptive to the catastrophic.

9. Not speaking up: By always keeping your thoughts and opinions to yourself at work, especially when the stakes are high, you’re undercutting your own role in the organization and devaluing the contribution you bring. A lack of confidence in your own ideas or the value that your “voice” brings to your team can eventually lead to a diminished role in your company. If you don’t believe in yourself or respect yourself enough to make your thoughts known and clearly communicate your goals or needs, why should anyone else?

10. Overworking: While your employer may not necessarily see this as a “bad” habit, if you are consistently running yourself into the ground at work, you’re very likely headed for career burnout. What’s more, being overworked doesn’t always mean you’re the most productive person in the room but could also signal that you’re not using your time wisely enough or being inefficient about how you tackle your workload, causing it to take over your life. This New Year, take some time to examine your own long-held conceptions about productivity or workload (do you fear being seen as lazy and overcompensate by working too hard? Are you addicted to being “busy?” Are you avoiding having more balance in your life because of personal reasons?). Whatever is driving you to spread yourself too thin at work, make a plan to scale back in 2019 so that you can remain highly productive yet still have a rich, fulfilling personal life away from the office.   

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