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5 Ways to Ruin a Successful Career


If things are going great in your career and you want to do everything in your power to keep it that way, then, whatever you do, don’t do any of these five things listed below and you should be in the clear. Read through the list and see if you’re guilty of committing (or thinking of committing) these career-ruining crimes.


(Photo Credit: TC Morgan/Flickr)

1. Last one in, first one out – Showing up late to work consistently tells your boss that you sort-of-kind-of-but-not-really take work seriously. If there is a valid reason why you’re late more often than not, then you should be considerate enough to discuss those matters with your employer so that you can, hopefully, work out a more accommodating schedule. Now, if you work for heartless humanoids, then you might not be so lucky, but it’s worth being open and honest with your employer to keep things transparent on both ends. Otherwise, you run the risk of looking like a no-good, I-couldn’t-care-less employee who’s asking to be replaced … and eventually will be replaced.

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2. Indulge in office gossip – If the workplace is more of a sounding board for discussing who you do and don’t like and why, rather than a place to perform the tasks you’re being paid to do, then it’s time to take a step back and realize that petty high school drama was supposed to be left in high school, not brought to the workplace as a grown adult with a career. We get it, reality shows make it seem like drama is life and that it’s totally acceptable to throw an absolutely perfect and delicious glass of wine on someone you hate in a restaurant, but get a grip, people – we’re grownups now, who have responsibilities. Maybe if you focused more on earning your keep at work, then you wouldn’t have to spend so much time and energy gossiping about everyone else who (supposedly) isn’t doing their job and whom you dislike. Namaste.

3. All or nothing mentality – Do these phrases sound familiar: “I never do [insert something bad that you actually did do]” or “I always do [insert something you wish you did, but never do]”? This all or nothing mentality means that you’re probably never taking accountability for actions, always pointing the finger at someone else, and insecure about the work you perform. In other words, your defensive attitude is actually hurting you more than it is protecting you, and, what’s worse, your employer can see right through your BS (“bad stuff”). Drop the “it wasn’t me” thinking and doing your part – that’s what you’re getting paid for, after all.

4. Throw others under the bus – “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’,” but you sure think there’s one. Being a team player is crucial to the success of any company, big or small, so it’s time to suit up and start contributing your fair share. Isolating your successes and failures from others on your team (or within the organization) may result in you rising to the top on your own – yes – but that means you can fall to the bottom alone, too. Remember, you need others just as much as they need you, especially at work, so don’t burn your bridges. Plus, the business world is very small, tight-knit, so do yourself a favor and make friends, not enemies, in the working world.

5. You (always) think you’re entitled to a raise – If you think you deserve to be paid more for your efforts, then take a number, because everyone in the world feels the same way. If you truly feel as though you deserve a raise, then be patient and prove yourself until your review comes around. If your boss continually puts off your review or refrains from providing you feedback on your performance, then that could mean that you’re either not doing a great job and don’t deserve a raise, or that you need to find a new job because your employer doesn’t understand the importance of feedback. Either way, feeling entitled to a raise is the wrong attitude to have as an employee, but if you want to know what you’re really worth, then use this salary calculator

We hope that the above list will help you maintain a successful career and also keep you an honest, hardworking professional. To help safeguard you from other career-ending habits, read this post and this one, too. Good luck.

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Do you have anything else to add to the list of ways to mess up your perfectly fine career? Share your thoughts with our community on Twitter and join the conversation.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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Sharon cologero
Sharon cologero

I totally agree with these ways to ruin a career. As a director of a department these are things I will not tolerate. If you can’t take accountability for your actions and work as a team then you are not needed in my department. No one is perfect and mistakes happen, that is human, but taking accountability for your self and your team is professional.

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