4 subtle mistakes that are hurting your career

Whether you feel on track with your goals or a little bit stuck, you could be making subtle mistakes that are slowing down your career progress. And the last thing you want is to be unintentionally sabotaging all your hard work and best efforts. 

But if you arm yourself with an understanding of the most common success traps people create for themselves, you’ll be able to accelerate your growth in no time. And if you take the time to reflect on your own definition of success, you’ll find the drive to stop any habits that are holding you back. 

“I would define a successful career as one where your purpose, passions, and skills come together as one to serve or help others. This way, you will always feel fulfilled because you know that your work matters and is bigger than a simple paycheck,” says Ana Patricia Bourgeois, a business mentor for corporate women. “Everything we do should bring us closer to our goals and our goals should always revolve around our values, mission, and vision.”

Ready to dodge any potential career busters so you can build the life of your dreams? Here are four subtle career pitfalls to keep an eye out for. 


“Usually, people aren’t sabotaging their career per se, but rather self-sabotaging. I’ve coached clients who showed signs of self-sabotage. And these signs will always reflect back on their careers. Everything that happens internally will always be reflected externally in some shape or form,” says Bourgeois. 

According to her, the most common form of self-sabotage is procrastination, which can translate into your career as always being late to work, having difficulty finishing projects on time or delaying new tasks. “The key to discovering why we self-sabotage is to ask ourselves: What is the underlying benefit of me procrastinating? Our subconscious minds hold all the answers and will give us some pointers as to why we are doing it and what it is protecting us from.”

Being reactive

Bourgeois says highly successful people share the common trait of proactivity. “Always be proactive in finding new and challenging tasks. Finding this perfect balance between challenge and skill is the secret to lasting motivation and endless drive in your career,” she says. 

Being proactive also means taking responsibility for your career and results. “Taking responsibility demonstrates that you are mature and reliable. It also shows your managers that you know you are in charge of everything you say and everything you do. This could lead you to be assigned to bigger tasks and projects, which ultimately leads to more promotions and raises.”

Not challenging yourself

“There are two subtle mistakes that can have a negative impact on your career but may be difficult to catch at first, and that is not being proactive and lacking motivation,” says Bourgeois.

Does everything feel mundane, repetitive and boring at work lately? Even if you’re able to keep up with your deliverables, this is a career-destroying situation you don’t want to find yourself in. Don’t wait for motivation to find you. Taking action will help you rediscover it. “Instead of staying stuck, ask yourself: What challenges me? What could I do differently?”  

The key is to always seek to learn and grow. Bourgeois recommends consuming content related to your industry daily to flex that muscle. 


Think twice before indulging in the instant gratification of ranting with your coworkers. Because you know what the most successful — and happiest people — in the world also have in common? They never point fingers and they always practice gratitude. “People who have successful careers avoid those three things at all costs: blaming others, being closed-minded and always complaining,” says Bourgeois. 

So the next time you’re faced with a career situation that makes you want to scream, try focusing on what you can control instead of pointing fingers. What could you have done differently? Is there something to learn from this? Is there anything you can do to improve things moving forward? 

And while finding gratitude can sometimes be challenging when you’re in the midst of a difficult situation, building a daily gratitude practice such as writing down things you’re grateful for will help improve your general outlook. “When we practice daily gratitude for the things we do have, we operate from an abundant and positive state. Your thoughts create your feelings, your feelings create your actions and your actions create your results. The more positive and abundant you feel, the more actions you’ll be happy to take in the workplace, which will have a positive impact and bring great results in your career,” says Bourgeois.