Hurdles on the Path to Career Success – Part 1

All of us have inside us the potential to succeed. To go above and beyond the average. But over a period of time, consciously or not, we end up creating hurdles around us that block us from being as successful as we can otherwise be. This is true both in the career, and life itself. Here is a quick look at some of the common hurdles in the path to career success.

(What has this got to do with personal finance, you ask? Well simple. The personal finance equation has two parts to it - how much you make and how much you keep. And needless to say your career success has a huge impact on how much you make. So there you go. Now, lets move on to the focus of the article - the hurdles on the path to career success)

Trying to please everyone
Remember the old adage “He who tries to please all pleases none”? This is particularly true at work. If you try to please your colleagues, boss and subordinates all at the same time, eventually you end up not pleasing anyone. Worst of all, you could end up with a particular sense of dissatisfaction that can ruin your peace of mind.

How to fix it: Prioritize! The first and the most important person is of course yourself. You need to be happy and content with what you do. Next, it should be the boss/manager who is responsible for your career progress. Next, is your subordinates. Finally, your friends and colleagues.

Not clearly understanding the expectations
If you do not communicate well with your manager and your peers, your understanding of what needs to be done, and theirs can be very different. Even if you put in a lot of hard work, if you are working against a wrong set of requirements, eventually none of it matters.

How to fix it: Listen! And then repeat. It may sound silly – but a simple repetition of what the expectations are can clear up the understanding. Make the following sentences part of your discussion with your manager and peers: “Let me see if I got it straight – you want me to…”; “OK, so here is my understanding. Please let me know if this is correct…”; “Based on what you just said, here’s the list of things I need to get done…”. If you are a manager, encourage your subordinates to summarize your discussions and listen carefully for any misunderstandings.

Too focused on job security
Last year my company laid off a little over 7% of the job force. There is nothing unique or strange about that number. For many of us that work in the tech sector, lay off is a part of life. Unfortunately, some of use adjust to this fact better than others. If you are worried to take risks and speak up because you are too focused on the job security, then you could be seriously curtailing your own growth – both professionally and personally.

How to fix it: Prepare! Have a list of other companies that you can work for if you get laid off. Keep your resume updated. Have an emergency fund and maybe some sources of alternate income. Once you are prepared to face a lay off, you will stop worrying about it and be willing to take on more challenges at work.

Letting personal life influence work life
Everybody has issues in personal life at some point or the other. There isn’t one of us that has a perfect hassle free life out of work. There are ups and there are downs. If you let it effect the quality of work, then eventually your career will come tumbling down.

How to fix it: Practice professionalism. Learn to mask your emotions at work. In fact, take it one step further – when you feel utterly dejected in personal life, make sure you find ways to achieve success in your work life! When you can make your work complement your personal life and offset the downs, you will succeed not just in your career but also in your personal life!

Short-term thinking
Last year I was assigned to a project which I was not too keen on doing. The work was boring and I thought it did not use my “potential” well. Needless to say I was quite disappointed and not very motivated. One of the days when I was stuck in traffic, I was thinking about this, and realized it was not all bad. The project is has high visibility, so if I did a good job, I can get some recognition. In addition, there is no defined team lead – and I could easily step into the role and take on more responsibility. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like this project was far better in the long term than the project I had coveted and was hoping to be a part of.

How to fix it: Step outside and think long term. How will what you are doing now help you 2 years down the line? 5 years down the line? What are you learning now that will prepare you for success in the long run – not the promotion next year, but in the next job that you accept in some other company? And the one after that? If you get into the habit of questioning the long term implications of your every day actions, you can escape the myopic stand that most average people end up taking.

These are by no means the only hurdles that stop us from being successful in our careers. But if you do identify any of these as part of your life, work to improve. All of us are mere humans and susceptible to flaws. The real tragedy is if we do not identify these flaws and try to fix them! I will post part 2 of this article soon.

*Image Credit: Photograph by Stew pendous [via Flickr Creative Commons]

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1 Comment:

Ramesh T. said...
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