This time of year, many people find themselves with an urge to purge what’s no longer useful, clearing away the outdated and unnecessary stuff clut
This time of year, many people find themselves with an urge to purge what’s no longer useful, clearing away the outdated and unnecessary stuff cluttering their lives. The same concept can be applied to your professional world, too.
Here are the ten best things to discard to “spring clean” your career:
1. A confusing positioning
If you confuse people—potential clients, partners, and employers— you’ll lose them.
Think about it: if you’re looking for someone to prepare your taxes, would you reach out to the person who says she’s a tax expert and CPA or someone who lists four other seemingly unrelated professions along with his ability to do your taxes?
Instead, focus on putting your talents to their highest and best use. When you’re clear, everything becomes easier. People understand you, what you offer, your value, what differentiates you, how you can help them.
2. Advice from someone who hasn’t achieved the results you want
It’s easy for people to tell you what you should do, especially well-intended family and friends trying to “help” you. But unless someone’s been there and done that, their “advice” is simply their opinion—and one that isn’t useful.
Never take advice from people who aren’t getting the results you want to experience. Instead, seek counsel from those who have done what you want to do, and even then, use it as a suggestion rather than a rule to inform your own career journey.
3. Irrelevant experience
You’re not doing yourself any favors by hoarding past career experience that has nothing to do with what you want to do now or how you want others to perceive you. When you’re telling your career story, ruthlessly pare down information on your CV or LinkedIn profile, omitting the experience that doesn’t align with your goals.
4. The need to be perfect
If you’re a perfectionist, this may be a hard pill to swallow: “perfect” doesn’t exist.
When you tell yourself circumstances need to be perfect before you take action, or you’ll do X when Y happens, you give up your power to external forces you can’t control. It can also keep you from taking risks for fear of failure, so you stagnate while you procrastinate.
One surefire way to combat perfectionism—and grow your career—is to take action. You must take risks, which will result in one of two things: success or learning. Remember, aim for progress, not perfection.
5. People and things that no longer serve you
Your environment, which includes your friends, colleagues, location, habits, and lifestyle, impacts you far more—for better or worse—than you realize; it always wins. You’ve likely grown and evolved in your career, and what once worked for you has probably changed. You can’t make a significant, lasting change without altering some elements of your environment.
Remember to be mindful of the company you keep and the activities that you engage in, and ask yourself if they support what you want to do, not just what you’ve done. Real growth happens when you align yourself with people and things that support your destiny, not your history.
6. Saying yes to everything
Always saying yes may make you seem agreeable and accommodating, but it also forces you into agreeing to things you wish you hadn’t, that are unnecessary, and that burn through your precious time—big mistake. Busy people take on everything and offer unfettered access to their time, expertise, and attention; productive people set boundaries.
We must choose, with intention, to what we say yes and to what we say no. It all comes down to simplifying, prioritizing, and focusing our attention on what matters most.
7. Outdated expectations
Are you still clinging to plans you made a few career seasons ago? Or maybe you feel locked into the expectation someone else—a teacher, parent, or old boss—placed on you?
It’s never too late to become who you were always meant to be. Reassess and gain clarity on what you want, drop any outdated notions, and then forge your own path.
8. Comparing yourself to others
You’re setting yourself up for disappointment when you try to compare your journey with another’s, particularly when that person is decades ahead of you in their career. As the saying goes, don’t compare your chapter one with someone else’s chapter 20.
Instead, adjust your perspective and lose your envy by reframing it into a learning opportunity. Study your co-workers’ and colleagues’ behaviors and actions to learn what worked and what didn’t, not to replicate their path, but to advise your own.
9. The negative stories you tell yourself
The stories we tell ourselves are the most important words we speak because they play on repeat in our heads. When you fill your head with negative self-talk like I’m not good enough, I’m not ready, or I’m just a __________ (whatever you are now), not a _________ (whatever you’d like to be), you self-sabotage, preventing yourself from learning, growing, and stretching your wings.
Instead, use a little compassion, and treat yourself the way you would a treasured friend. Words have power, especially those you say—or don’t say—to yourself. By replacing self-sabotaging talk with self-affirming talk, you’ll abandon limiting beliefs and adopt a growth-focused mindset.
The number one barrier to success isn’t your lack of talent; it’s fear.
Fear is a powerful emotion. It often masquerades as a cloak of protection, keeping us from doing things that may cause us harm. But sometimes, the real damage comes from the inaction that fear enables.
Everything will remain the same until you take responsibility for your growth journey. To make progress, you need to muster the courage to acknowledge and let go of your fears to get out of your own way and gain traction in your career.
By jettisoning what’s cluttering your career, you’ll clear the path for professional growth.