7 Reasons You Could Be Failing in Your Career—And How to Fix It

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7 Reasons You Could Be Failing in Your Career—And How to Fix It

7 Reasons You Could Be Failing in Your Career—And How to Fix It

The time has come to discuss the "F" word. (No, not that dreaded "F" word.) Failure. That word, no matter who you are or what you do, has the power to frighten you. If you suspect you're already failing in your life (for example, you're not where you expected to be at this point, or you've had setbacks), it can be terrifying. It may prevent you from breaking bad habits and forming new ones to put you in a better position. This is especially true in your professional life. It's all too easy to get caught up in an inertia bubble and then shrug helplessly when you know it's time to get out.

So, Do you ever feel like you're not making as much progress as you should in your professional life? Do you ever wonder why your career hasn't progressed as much as some of your peers'? Do you ever feel like you're 'stuck' in some way and you're not sure why? Or perhaps you feel as if your career never got off to the start you had hoped for in the first place?

Read on for some ideas on why you might be holding yourself back in your professional life—and then turn it around.

Why aren't You Progressing?

You're too preoccupied with blaming others;

For example; “if Lilly didn't get all of the attention and good projects at work, I'd be much further along. If Frank paid more attention to what I was doing, I'd be making more money. If it weren't for my cat, parents, and therapist, I'd have a better job.”

What to do: Your career is entirely yours and yours alone. This means that your decisions are ultimately your responsibility, not your cat's, your parents', or your therapist's. It's time to stop blaming and work consistently for what you want: that raise, the good projects, the job you want. Blaming others consumes a lot of mental energy that you should be used to conduct an internal audit of why things aren't going as planned—and what steps you can take to make progress.

You lack the necessary resources and education;

If you avoid applying for jobs because you lack the necessary skills, experience, or education, you may experience feelings of failure while browsing job openings. It's difficult not to feel like a failure when all you see are closed doors.

What to do: Enroll in a class! Going back to school for a new degree (or completing an old one) may not be an option for everyone, but there are often ways to avoid the traditional "going back to school" model. Sites like Lynda.com offer free or low-cost courses that you can take on your own time to improve your skills. Many universities and colleges also provide part-time degree programs or non-degree courses online. ​​Even when time or money is limited, there are numerous ways to remain academically active and learn.

You're not setting attainable goals;

If you don't plan your career realistically, you'll feel like a failure—you've set yourself up for failure. It would never happen in two years to go from entry-level to CEO for instance. At least most times.

What to do: It's time to set some SMART goals. That is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Setting short-term (say, for the next year) and long-term (five years or more) career goals will help you make quantifiable progress. Numerous apps and tools are available to assist you but don't underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned checklist and the smug, well-earned sense of accomplishment that comes with crossing something off the list.

You're stuck because you're afraid of failing;

Fail because you are afraid of failing? Is that even a thing? Yes, indeed, it is. While you're on the lookout for failure, it's possible to walk right into it by avoiding risky changes or proactive steps that could lead to failure. This type of failure is sneaky because it comes from exactly where you thought you were looking.

What to do: Don't be afraid to be bad at something or make a wrong decision now and then. As painful as it may feel in the meantime, failure can be one of the most valuable learning experiences. Allowing fear to paralyze you can stifle your career advancement. Your professional life depends on both your successes and your failures.

You are not confident;

Thinking about doing something and taking the bull by the horns are two entirely different situations—and this may not be due to laziness but rather a crippling lack of confidence. However, all planning and no action do not equal success, so consider why you are delaying making your mark. Are you afraid of putting yourself out there and promoting your abilities? Are you too scared to contact those people who could, just might, make all the difference—because they're 'too senior,' or because you're afraid they'll think you're silly,' or because you secretly believe everyone else is 'better' than you?

What to do: Have the confidence to put yourself forward when it counts, as well as the courage to strive for greater heights. You never know, it could change your life! And keep in mind that if you don't take any risks, you'll never know what the outcome could have been. Some of the world's most successful people have faced the most rejection—because they aren't afraid to take a risk.

It's not what you truly desire;

Being successful professionally should make you happy in the end. Be honest: will climbing that ladder genuinely fulfill you, or have you moved on? Not everyone has the same goals as they were fresh out of university or new to the field. If you've lost your 'zing,' and you're just doing it because you think you should, it's possible you're not getting what you want. If that's the case, figure out what you want and go after it instead; otherwise, your lack of enthusiasm will be apparent.

What to do; Sometimes, our plans and thoughts become habits—what we once desired has become so ingrained in our professional lives that we're not being true to ourselves when, in fact, we've changed. We're not passionate about it anymore.

There's nothing wrong with changing your mind or even standing still if you're content. Be brave and follow your heart rather than what you (or someone else) decided you should do in the past.

You're Too Disorganized;

Some people hinder their professional success because they are too disorganized. Perhaps you wanted to apply for that fantastic opportunity but were too late to give your application the attention it deserved? (I'm sure someone else did it instead.)

Are you constantly making lists and plans, but you approach your workday with the type of chaos that results in you working in shambles (both mentally and physically) and never getting everything done? Are you constantly distracted by your phone, that article you came across while researching something else, or that message on social media about someone's birthday/wedding in three weeks?

What to do: Be strict and diligent in your efforts. All of that other stuff can wait; you'll never be at your most productive if your mind is racing. A little more self-discipline can go a long way in the workplace.

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