Work, Career, Career Advice, Now + Beyond

12 bad habits that are holding you back at work

Obviously, you want to be nice to those you work with. But, if you're too nice, it'll be harder to move forward in your career.

Women face different challenges than men as they climb the career ladder. From sexist bosses and mansplainers to credit-snakers and companies who don’t take into account our families, there are many biases systematically working against us. Sometimes, we even play a role in being roadblocks in the path to our own success by picking up behaviors that keep us from becoming the badass bosses we’re meant to be.

Here’re some:

1. You’re reluctant to take credit…

A blonde woman in a strapless red dress is giving a speech. She says "There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success, or try to take credit for your accomplishments or your fame."
[Image description: A blonde woman in a strapless red dress is giving a speech. She says “There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success, or try to take credit for your accomplishments or your fame.”] Via GIPHY
Blood, sweat, and tears go into your work but when the time comes to step into the spotlight, you find it hard to form the word “I” and go for “we” instead to humbly spread the credit around.

2. …yet expect to be noticed.

A dark-haired, white man is sitting on a red leather chair. He has slid down and is smiling shyly. He then pulls one end of his cardigan over his head.
[Image description: A dark-haired, white man is sitting on a red leather chair. He has slid down and is smiling shyly. He then pulls one end of his cardigan over his head.] Via GIPHY
Honestly, Moms are a prime example. They do so much and feel like trash when it isn’t recognized because they’re so good at Mom-ing. Great work cannot always speak for itself until you step up and take credit where it’s due.

3. Being too good at your job.

A woman in a black top is seated among other women at a table. She points to herself and says "I'm one badass bitch."
[Image description: A woman in a black top is seated among other women at a table. She points to herself and says “I’m one badass bitch.”] Via Tenor
This isn’t a bad thing, but when you throw yourself fully into a role, it’s often assumed that that’s where you want to stay. Let it be known to your bosses that you see your current role as a mere stepping stone.

4. Not learning to take advantage of relationships.

A cartoon clip shows two dark-haired young adults, a black man and a white woman. They high five.
[Image description: A cartoon clip shows two dark-haired young adults, a black man, and a white woman. They high five.] Via GIPHY
There’s nothing wrong with leveraging your relationships. If your friend/colleague/acquaintance can put in a word for you, or help you get a leg-up, there’s no harm in asking. Be genuine and sincere.

5. Falling victim to Impostor Syndrome.

A dark-haired black woman is seated on a white couch. While nodding, she holds a small sign with the word FRAUD on it over her head.
[Image description: A dark-haired black woman is seated on a white couch. While nodding, she holds a small sign with the word FRAUD on it over her head.] Via Tenor
We all feel like we have something to prove from time to time which stops us from asking others for help. There’s nothing weak about it and you wouldn’t be where you are today without hard work.

6. Focusing too much on the Now than on building the Future.

A large, black, muscled man is seated on a couch, listening to the woman sitting across from him. He's hugging a pillow which then pops as he strengthens his hold. Feathers explode everywhere.
[Image description: A large, black, muscled man is seated on a couch, listening to the woman sitting across from him. He’s hugging a pillow which then pops as he strengthens his hold. Feathers explode everywhere.] Via Tenor
Being so focused on what’s on your plate now makes you forget to lay down the groundwork for your next steps. It’s important to always have a goal in mind so you can a clear image of what you’re working towards.

7. Perfectionism. Point blank period.

A white, blonde man in an orange-and-blue ensemble cocks his head to one side and says "It's not going to be perfect. But that's okay."
[Image description: A white, blonde man in an orange-and-blue ensemble cocks his head to one side and says “It’s not going to be perfect. But that’s okay.”] Via GIPHY
There’s no such thing as perfect. It’s a trap – one which induces stress and negativity and pushes you, perhaps, to be controlling.  Learning to let go of this notion and delegate will not only help you be more at ease but also open your time up.

8. Contracting the disease to please.

A dark-haired white woman in a green shirt is standing in a kitchen. Anxiously, she says "I've got this uncontrollable need to please people."
[Image description: A dark-haired white woman in a green shirt is standing in a kitchen. Anxiously, she says “I’ve got this uncontrollable need to please people.”] Via GIPHY
Learn to say no.

It’s great to be helpful, but don’t do it at the expense of your own growth. Be selective about which projects you choose to take on and don’t be afraid to pass the buck.

9. Minimizing your self to make others happy.

A cartoon clip shows a man dressed in white-black-and-red armor, standing. He then shrinks down to the size of an ant, as evidenced by two ants which show up next to him.
[Image description: A cartoon clip shows a man dressed in white-black-and-red armor, standing. He then shrinks down to the size of an ant, as evidenced by two ants which show up next to him.] Via GIPHY
You have a tendency to make yourself small in the presence of others and in speech. You deserve as much space and time as anyone else, so take it. Forget adding the words “just” and “only” to your sentences (I just have one question; It will only take five minutes…)

10. Being labeled as “too emotive.”

A dark-haired man begins to speak, falters, then falls silent.
[Image description: A dark-haired man begins to speak, falters, then falls silent.] Via Tenor
Your emotions provide vital information about the situation you’re in. To feel is good but to take action in said feeling is not. Take a moment to process your emotions – ecstatic, dreading, saddened, angry – and then respond with an answer rooted in feeling but expressed logically.

11. Focusing on mistakes.

A blond man in a purple shirt looks distressed as he asks "What have I done?"
[Image description: A blond man in a purple shirt looks distressed as he asks “What have I done?”] Via GIPHY
Mistakes happen. It’s a part of life and ruminating over it with the why’s will make you feel stuck and swimming in negativity. Focus instead on the what as in what’s your next step towards fixing or working past it?

12. Getting easily distracted.

A dark-haired woman anxiously chews on a pencil as she stares intently at the work in front of her.
[Image description: A dark-haired woman anxiously chews on a pencil as she stares intently at the work in front of her.] Via Tenor
The world is full of distractions in the form of your own thoughts, inanimate objects, and other people, to name three. So, sometimes, these leak into our work bubble and distract us. When this happens, try and reframe the situation by either dismissing or addressing the inputs in order to steer back your focus.

Not all of these apply to every woman, and not every woman encompasses these habits, but you can absolutely break out of those routines.

It’s hard enough making your way up, so let’s take advantage of what we can and kick some ass. And if you need some extra motivation, I’d recommend picking up a copy of How Women Risewhich is the ultimate cheat sheet to moving up the career ladder.