Coasting, balance, fire and guts: Six career mistakes you'll live to regret

Oliver Gill
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Sam Allardyce Leaves England Football Managers Position After Newspaper Allegations
Former England football manager Sam Allardyce took a decision this year that ultimately cost him his job (Source: Getty)

The New Year is a time when many of us make grandiose promises to ourselves and others about our life aspirations.

When it comes to your career, making a decision to shake things up can be just the ticket and provide the impetus to achieve career aspirations.

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But before you make any you-can't-put-the-toothpaste-back-in-the-tube decisions, here are six things you might want to consider.

1 – Coasting

A very easy trap to fall into. You've been at your company for a few years and know the ropes. Perhaps you even know some of the shortcuts that mean you can get out early for that quick drink before heading home.

But are you simply meeting expectations or exceeding them?

It's easy to think you're always exceeding them and natural to want to try and do that with the less possible effort.

"By putting a little more effort in every day and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, you may well be able to get more out of your job," says recruitment firm Hays. This could be anything from a greater degree of satisfaction to a promotion or pay rise.

2 – Burning bridges

It's a small world. How often do we say and think that?

OK, you've decided to head for pastures new, got a new job and told your current one. But is it really a good idea to air all your grievances publicly? After all it could come back and bite you later on.

A car burns on a bridge near the road le
To quote Disney, it's a small world (Source: Getty)

According to a 2015 survey by national staffing firm OfficeTeam, nine out of 10 human resources managers say the way employees quit affects their future job opportunities.

Bill Fish, president of recalls a pertinent example:

Roughly seven years ago, I had a sales manager that was let go and decided to leave using a scorched-earth technique. He threw a bunch of file folders against the wall, verbally trashed just about everyone on the team, and made a raucous exit as he was walked out. I’d never seen anything like it.

My favourite part is that six months ago, he reached out to me via LinkedIn looking for work.

3 – Work/life balance

We all say it and many of us struggle to do much about it. But failing to make time socially because work is all-consuming can ultimately have a detrimental affect on your career.

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The Australian Institute of Business identified the three key benefits of maintaining a good work/life balance

  • We become less susceptible to burnouts, which can be hard to come back from. Simply resting when you are burnt to a crisp might not be enough.

  • Attention is paid where due – when you're at work, focus on work. When you're at home, focus on home. In the end this helps the mind focus on the task at hand and helps avoid inefficient distractions.

  • We experience fewer health problems – stress ain't good and it weakens the immune system. A spot of exercise – there's no need to go crazy – at regular intervals will help you unwind and relax.

4 – Not focusing on value

With lots of different things going on, it's easy to fall into the trap of focusing on what Hays call "low value" projects.

"Try to focus on the projects that will drive your company forward," the consultants say.

Many of us focus on the things we are interested in and prioritise them over things we want to put off. But ask yourself – what are the tasks on my to-do list that will create most value for the company?

5 – Why didn't you go with your gut?

Once you've been working for a while you can build up more experience than you might imagine.

Nevertheless, when presented with a new situation, we often refrain from going with our gut instincts. You wait to make a decision based on more and more facts. And often the worst decision is to not make any decision at all.

Believe in yourself. If you need a quick answer, go with your gut.

Read more: The 10 careers with the biggest payrises (spoiler: banking isn't one)

6 – Is the grass actually greener?

What would a listicle be without a cliche?

This is Yorkshire, where the grass is very green. But that's probably because it also rains a lot (Source: Getty)

It's natural to think that changing jobs will solve all the niggles that frustrate you on a daily basis at work. But Stephanie Anderson of job search engine LinkUp warns:

Sometimes there are things going on in life that cause us to make rash decisions. If you’re going through the proverbial mid-life crisis, don’t go wild and quit your job.

Doing so may be a major mistake you’ll regret in just a few months. It’s best to pause while other things in your life settle before making major career decisions.

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