Ever wonder why you sometimes drive to work automatically--on your day off? Habits are sneaky things that automates our behavior without even realizing it. When the trigger of a habit occurs, the decision making part of the brain almost goes into a sleep mode as your body carries out the habitual action you've always done--in the same way you've always done it.
Habits aren't always formed on purpose, and many of the habits we fall into are not helpful. This is especially true in our careers, where the wrong habits can kill our chances of advancement. With that in mind, here are seven career-killing habits that you simply can't afford to keep:
Do you feel like you work best under pressure? Be careful about putting things off at work. When you're always rushing around to get things done at the last minute, you also put pressure on your coworkers and your boss. Frustrate them too many times and you'll find that these critical stakeholders won't have your back when you're up for a promotion.
If you really feel you can't work without a deadline looming, try setting yourself a personal deadline a day or two before the work is actually due. Turn it into a game to see how early you can finish while still producing great quality work.
2. White Lies
Do you misrepresent situations to make yourself look good or avoid embarrassment? A habit of telling untruths--however small--for your own benefit will kill your career. Dishonesty at work is a slippery slope, especially when you have to remember the false information when questioned in the future.
The way you'll get out of this habit may sound simple, but you'll likely find executing it to be challenging. Before you make decisions at work, ask yourself if this is something you feel the need to cover up. If so, simply don't do it. Tell the truth instead, or find a graceful way to exit the conversation without telling white lies.
Being constantly negative is a good way to be labeled a toxic employee. Toxic employees aren't promoted--instead, their coworkers avoid them and their bosses look for ways to fire them. It's easy to get into a habit of complaining, especially if your coworkers complain as well.
To drop this habit like it's hot, focus on the things you're grateful for. If you're in a truly bad situation professionally or personally, find ways to make positive change. When you change your habit of complaining, you'll become a positive influence on the job, which will help advance your career in turn.
4. Running Late
Too many people are in the habit of underestimating how long it takes to do certain things. Unfortunately, when unchecked, this habit results in you running perpetually late. Whether you're late getting into the office, losing track of time at lunch, or turning in a project after your boss's stated deadline, your tardiness will not go unnoticed. People who are consistently late are considered unreliable and won't be promoted or given important assignments.
To break this career-killing habit, try adding 15 minutes or more to your estimate of how long things take. If that isn't enough, enlist the support of a trusted friend who will issue some sort of punishment in response to your tardiness. More than 15 minutes late to dinner? You're paying the bill. Held up an office meeting because your "alarm didn't go off?" You just volunteered to take over your friend's company kitchen cleaning shift.
If you're serious about breaking this bad habit, make the consequences of your tardiness sting. In no time at all, you'll find yourself arriving on schedule, with time to spare.
5. Telling Tasteless Jokes
There are times you might enjoy a controversial joke, but during work shouldn't be one of them. If you're someone who has an edgy sense of humor, you might consider yourself cutting edge, but your bosses will consider you a liability. Even if you have a couple of coworkers who enjoy the humor as well, telling these kinds of jokes at work is a habit that will ruin your chances of moving up.
Instead, tell harmless jokes or simply save your edgy humor for after work. When you show good judgement regarding what's appropriate when, you'll find many more opportunities open to you.
6. Being on Social Media at Work
Checking social media, either on a work computer or on your phone during work, may seem like a harmless way to keep up with friends. Unfortunately, your boss won't agree. The habit of being on social media at work is a time-waster and makes you appear unproductive and irresponsible. Even if you're getting all your work done, your boss will wonder what more you could do if you weren't online.
To keep your career safe, visit social media only on lunch and breaks--use your work time to complete professional tasks and even go above and beyond your duties.
7. Poor Communication Skills
If you find yourself in the habit of never replying to emails, using poor grammar, or clicking a pen during meetings, you have poor communication skills. These habits not only annoy your coworkers, they make you hard to understand and can kill your career. It's hard to get promoted when you are unresponsive or can't communicate professionally.
Take time to work on grammar, typing, and timeliness, and avoid annoying habits while others are speaking. Having a friend point out common errors you regularly make may be enough to kick this habit to the curb; consider more formal education in communication if it isn't. Your future self will thank you.
It's easy to fall into the trap of repeating bad habits that can damage your career without you even realizing it. By avoiding these seven career-killing habits, you'll avoid being labeled as toxic or inattentive, and your career will grow accordingly. Instead, create great habits, and you'll come across as someone who is both professional and promotable.
What other bad habits have you seen kill a career? Share a comment with your experiences below: