Have you ever thought about copying someone else's career path in order to achieve their level of success? Although it surprises some people, this is something I strongly discourage my clients from doing. Because only you know your Zone of Genius and personality, it's dangerous to blindly follow in someone else's footsteps.
And yet, I see so many people taking other people's experiences and advice to heart, which then results in some disastrous career moves.
Here are a few of the most surprising career mistakes I see people make time and time again:
1. You go to graduate school even though you're not super excited about it because someone tells you that you'll make more money.
Getting a degree for reasons other than a strong desire and clear fit is a mistake. For one, graduate school is expensive. Most graduates will be saddled with student loans after the fact, which then increases the likelihood that they'll have to take any job they're offered. Think about if you're willing to take that risk only to have to accept a job offer for a role you hate just to be able to pay off the loans.
This also applies to attending college. If a degree isn't required for a job in your field, really consider if you should go or take a different route for your career.
2. You ask your boss what they think your next job should be.
I see this all the time. People believe that their bosses know more about their potential than they do. Your boss knows a side of you; it could be accurate, but it also could be skewed. You should be looking within yourself for direction, not to your boss. Your boss can provide feedback or suggestions, but make sure it resonates and feels right to you before you use it as a guiding principle. Just because they're your boss doesn't mean they know what's best for your future.
3. You start asking for advice from friends and family members.
When you're not clear or feeling stuck, it's easy to ask everyone around you what they think. However, this can only add to the confusion. What your friends think is often really just what would be right for them. And while your parents want what's best for you, their advice could be outdated. If you're stuck, slow down, tune out the external noise, and start listening to your gut. That is a far better way to navigate your career than getting twisted from following everyone else's advice.
4. You don't follow your intuition.
There are countless stories of people who have a gut reaction to a decision and then choose to go against it, only to regret it in the long run. There is a lot of evidence that your gut or intuition is an intelligent and finely tuned system you need to listen to. If you're ignoring your intuition, you're discounting the years of wisdom that you've gathered.
5. You take a job because it looks good on paper.
What looks good on a resume has absolutely nothing to do with long-term success. It also doesn't provide anything other than bragging rights, which only provides a surface level of intermittent joy. The job can never create the kind of motivation, hunger, and joy that will make it the right fit for you. Taking a job because it looks good is only signing up for misery.
6. You justify a career move because it will lead to better opportunities down the road, but it isn't something that you want now.
Sometimes short-term sacrifice is warranted in life, but taking a job because of what it could potentially do for you in the future isn't always the way to go. Why? Because times are changing rapidly and you never know what's down the road. Taking a job that you're not excited about guarantees that your day-to-day life is less than ideal. Plus, you're less likely to have future opportunities come your way if you're not nailing the job you're in, which will be hard if you're lacking motivation. It's a lose-lose strategy.
7. You take a job because of what your peers are doing.
This is an easy trap. All of your friends are moving in one direction, which makes it easy to follow suit. If you fail to follow your heart and do what's right for you, then, well, you could end up being just like the majority of the population. If that's what you want, then by all means go ahead. However, if you're determined to be joyful at work, maximize your potential, and break barriers, then stop caring what others think, especially your friends.
Trust your gut and stop making the career mistakes I listed above. When you doubt yourself, remember that trail blazers end up taking paths that don't make sense to anyone.