In a perfect world, your work career would be one long stream of correct decisions that leave both your projects and bosses happy. Though it would be nice if we could always be perfect, that’s not the reality. We all make mistakes at some point in our careers, but instead of dwelling on them, see them as an opportunity to learn and grow. To help you be more successful, below seven experts below detail the most frequent mistakes people make.
1. Running on empty.
It’s easy to become a workaholic in this day and age, especially with technology making it so simple to always be reachable. It’s important to be dedicated to your job, but if you’re not taking care of yourself when you’re not at work, you won’t be able to perform as well as you could otherwise.“I used to think that it was selfish when I thought I should take care of myself because I was responsible for people’s jobs and careers,” said Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of LearnVest. “But I realized it was actually vital. The calmer, collected, and strategic I can be, the better that the company is.” Taking care of yourself should not be seen as a luxury, and if even the busiest CEOs can make time for it, you can too. Get into the habit now so that by the time you reach your goals, it’s part of your regular routine.
2. The quest for perfection.
Although it’s easy to constantly aim for perfection, we need to remember that nobody is perfect. Honesty is always the best policy, especially when it comes to admitting our own personal flaws and shortcomings. “Weaknesses are an amazing thing. It’s just vital that you know them,” said von Tobel. “I actually tell employees that if you don’t know your weakness, then that’s a problem.” TA common issue is what to say when your interviewer asks about your weaknesses. It’s always tempting to give a canned response like, “I’m a perfectionist.” But instead, be truthful. Talk about an actual problem (like communication), then explain how you’re working on fixing it.
3. Being anxious about the future.
It’s natural to feel worried about the future, but don’t let that worry override everything else in your life. Your career path is always evolving, and it’s ok if you don’t have everything figured out right now. “Society today puts so much pressure on women and men in their 20s to find that career that is going to make them uber-successful and aligns with their passions,” said Brit Morin, founder and CEO of Brit + Co. “To be honest, you spend the majority of your 20s just figuring out what your passion is and who you are as a person.” Therefore, put all of your efforts into it, make pals, and look at what other roads you could take; but don’t panic if you still haven’t found where you want to end up just yet.
4. Facing your fears head-on.
Many mentors have given me great advice, but one in particular sticks out to me: Do what scares you. It may sound counterintuitive, but it really does make sense. For example, Jake Horowitz, co-founder, and editor-in-chief of Mic. “We started in an apartment in Harlem with an idea. When we first launched and told the world what we were about, it was exciting and scary,” said Horowitz. After taking a scary but awe-inspiring leap, he found himself having one of the most powerful discussions four years later. If that doesn’t show you that risks sometimes turn out to be great opportunities, I don’t know what will.
5. Unclear communication.
Given that you’re a Millennial and understand today’s technology, you would assume it implies easy communication. Ironically, it can have the opposite effect. “The ease of communication is actually one of the pitfalls of communication. It’s so easy to send a text message or email, but so much is lost in translation,” said Jamie Rutenberg, COO of Charm & Chain. She suggested that instead of using digital communication when you have something important to say. “I am a huge proponent of picking up the phone, being direct, saying what needs to be said, and making sure that the follow-up is there so both parties are clear about the next steps,” she added.
6. Pretending to be ignorant.
Society tells women that it’s not attractive to be intelligent, which discourages many females from excelling in their careers. “I played dumb a lot even though I was really intelligent at 21. I was trying to disarm other people,” said Jesse Draper, creator, and host of The Valley Girl Show. “When I was too confident, things would affect me more. I remember people saying things that really discouraged me.” Initially, after a woman called her “a little smartypants” for vocalizing during a meeting, Draper felt embarrassed. However, she quickly realized that being both confident and intelligent was an advantage rather than something to be ashamed of.
7. Are you not taking full advantage of your mentor’s potential?
Mentors: Scooter Braun, founder of SB Projects, learned the importance of a good mentor the hard way.“My mentors don’t necessarily have the answer to everything, but what they can do is share wisdom and share experiences,” he said. While having someone to guide you through your career is beneficial, mentorship is about more than that. A good mentor doesn’t just provide advice or opportunities but helps equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to succeed on your own. “When I meet someone that I want to be my mentor, I just want them to tell me stories. I want to sit with them and soak up as much history from their lives as I can,” said Braun. “There is this richness in history and the wisdom that comes from experience that trumps any kind of smarts.”
8. Being driven by fear.
As a young entrepreneur, you will often find yourself second-guessing your decisions. This is especially true when it comes to the difficult task of firing employees or reprimanding those on the team. For Amanda Slavin, founder of CatalystCreativ, one of the most significant difficulties she’s faced was in her professional life. “In the beginning of my career, I found myself in situations that were so outside of what I believed in, but I was driven by fear and was so afraid to fire anyone,” she recalled. “I didn’t want to be seen as the bad guy, so I let situations linger. I call it the expired milk situation.’” In fact, she remembered that her fear of removing unfit employees was impacting those who were actually good for the company’s growth: “At one point, I was forced to let someone go and it was one of the hardest decisions. It got worse when this person ended up speaking badly about me and the company. I wanted to prove that we were in the right, but instead I took the high road. I stuck to staying out of all gossip, kept my head down, and continued to think of the success of the organization. This was a huge life changing moment for me.”
[Related: “The Worst Career Advice I’ve Ever Gotten”]