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Do you spend Sunday nights dreading Monday morning? Are you counting the minutes slowly tick by after you clock in every day? Are your lunch breaks spent daydreaming about a better job? If you answered yes to one or all of these, you may be stuck in a work rut.
The good news? Getting out of that rut and onto a more fulfilling career path is simpler than you might think. But before you start updating your resume and following all your dream companies on social media, it’s wise to do a quick check-in on your personal work habits to make sure you’re set up for success in your next role.
I’ve broken down a list of seven deadly work habits that you need to kick to curb, and how to start combating them today so that you can embark on the next phase of your career with confidence.
1. Comparing yourself to others
Getting wrapped up in the comparison game helps no one. If you’re spending hours scrolling through Instagram to check out who’s traveling the world or attending lavish parties, then you’re sabotaging yourself. Instead of thinking about what everyone else is up to, focus on what you need to do to ensure your own personal growth.
2. Failing to prioritize your health
When you’re not feeling well, everything becomes more difficult, including work. Take sick days when you need them, and keep up with doctor’s appointments. Consider setting aside time to check in with yourself on a daily or weekly basis to think about how the things in your life are making you feel, and why. These small moments of reflection can pave the way for big realizations about toxic environments you need to leave, bad relationships it’s time to end, or events and people to seek out for their positive impact.
3. Getting caught in a negativity cycle
Everyone complains sometimes—it’s totally necessary to let off steam. But if you find yourself constantly complaining about things you either can’t control or won’t fix, it can make everyday seem worse. Rather than continuously bringing what bothers you to the forefront, try to focus on implementing the positive changes that you can make to combat your concerns. If your coworkers are constantly ragging on the job, try taking a moment after the conversation to think about what is in your control in the situations that are upsetting you and what you could do to improve them.
4. Pretending to be overly happy
On the other hand, burying all of your feelings will also make you hate your current career situation. Studies have shown that stifling your feelings can cause built up resentment. Don’t lie about how you’re feeling, but don’t go over the top pretending that nothing bothers you. Striking this balance can feel frustrating, but stick with it. Learning how to express your feelings in a professional setting is an important tool in building the best career for yourself.
5. Saving all of your fun for the weekend
If you spend every week waiting for the weekend because that’s when you’ve planned all of your fun activities, you’re naturally going to wish Monday through Thursday away. Plan little treats throughout your work week, like indulging in a nice meal or meeting up with a friend for happy hour, to ensure that all your fun and relaxing activities don’t become weekend-specific. Viewing each week as a whole, not as five days of boredom and two days of freedom, will help you find balance no matter what stage your career is at.
6. Not dressing in a way you enjoy
When you don’t look like yourself, it’s hard to feel like yourself. Most offices have some sort of dress code in place, or at the very least some form of general guidelines, but within that framework, express you personal style by accessorizing and wearing what you feel confident in. If you’re spending the day dressed in clothes that don’t feel like ‘you,’ it can be much harder to feel truly comfortable, get any kind of work done, and feel like you’re contributing. A little style—when it speaks to who you are—goes a long way!
7. Focusing on how things used to be
If you used to have a really awesome boss or worked for a company that had a great vibe, you can end up spending a lot of time and energy playing the ‘remember when’ game instead of focusing on what you’re accomplishing now. Just as you can get caught up with comparing yourself to other people, you can get caught up comparing yourself to the past version of yourself. Just don’t. Focus on present you because that is who needs your time, energy, and thoughtfulness the most right now. Trust me, future you will thank present you for putting in the effort.
Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. She is a contributing writer for Color My Bubble. Her work appears in New York’s Best Emerging Poets anthology.