Three Major Mistakes to Avoid for Career Advancement

5 min read

In my line of work, strategic initiatives and planning are the foundation of growth and success. Once that strategy is in effect, we must continually analyze and assess its position, perspective, and potential to increase gains and profit. The same is true for career advancement. We are each individual brands seeking growth. Much like the businesses I formulate strategies for, we as professionals will make some mistakes along the way that deter us from our full career potential. When I look back at my journey and my brand there are three outstanding mistakes that come to mind that I've found to be common among all professionals.

Career Mistake 1: Loss of Individuality

We are conditioned to look at success as having a one-size-fits-all approach and because of that we look to past performers to dictate our own success metrics. While historical context is always valuable, it cannot be the most important part of outlining your career advancement. When we seek to achieve comparable success we lose sight of who we are as professionals. When I began switching my strategic gears from entire businesses to individual professionals, I realized that more often than not professionals did not take their own values into consideration with respect to their work.

We are conditioned to look at success as having a one-size-fits-all approach and because of that we look to past performers to dictate our own success metrics.

I personally believe that what you value and hold dearest is the most powerful element of your professional persona. This area of individuality should not be silenced by your work in order to conform to the metrics set by another colleague or another player in your industry. I challenge professionals to keep a running document of what they value to most and on a 30-day basis hold themselves accountable for how these values create a unique signature for their work. Maintaining a level of individuality may not always be the easiest route, but it will allow you to advance your career in ways that are meaningful to you — not just the status quo.

Career Mistake 2: Focusing Solely on Performance-based Metrics

Our entire lives, specifically our formative years, have shaped our validation around a universal symbol of success. Think about it in terms of education, it's a universal scoring system despite class or subject. We can even look at average income by job title and regional location in the blink of an eye without even assessing skills. As professionals, if we only focus on the performance-based metrics of our current position we leave out the most critical piece of this journey: ourselves.

I am a firm believer in performance-based metrics that align with your company and your position, but I know that is only part of the puzzle that is career advancement. Performance-based metrics don't tie in our individual perspectives, skill-set growth, or our overall growth as professionals outside of our current positions. What happens when you change roles, or better yet, you change companies? Do you have to wash away any validation of your skills with the rest of the dirty laundry? Do you have to start from scratch? No. If you have your own accountability metrics that contribute to your own professional growth tracking in combination with structured performance metrics, then you are in the driver's seat of your professional destiny and not just a spreadsheet.

Hold yourself accountable to your personal and performance goals, while only competing with the person in the mirror.

I have also noticed that focusing solely on performance-based metrics tends to increase external competition. External competition can be the death of your personal validation in your professional life. This is something that I struggled with for a long time. You can get so caught up in the numbers of your neighbor that you'll lose sight of the big picture and also easily lose your individuality. Hold yourself accountable to your personal and performance goals, while only competing with the person in the mirror. I can promise you, it will be worth it.

Career Mistake 3: Only Setting Long-term Goals:

While planning for the future in certain areas of your life is critical, only planning in the long-term sense is a common misstep when it comes to career advancement. It's common practice amongst professionals to set incredibly specific, aspirational goals that are quite far out of reach. I often find that long-term goals are so extremely specific with respect to career advancement that, more often than not, they end up holding someone back from potential opportunities along the way.

To use myself as an example, when I graduated college in 2008, I wanted to achieve the title of Vice President by the time I was 30. I became fixated on this particular goal and watched those who came before me with such intensity and precision that I lost sight of my own unique value. I lost sight of the most important part of career advancement: my "why." I know now that my "why" is based on values, passion, and my ability to leverage those aspects of myself. Holding myself accountable in the short term has kept me on track for my own, new definition of professional advancement.

If I learned anything in my career mistakes is that when you readjust your focus to the present, you obtain the highest level of power a professional can hold.

Another reason I don't recommend sticking to only long-term goal-setting is that most professionals don't know how to actually get to that long-term goal or how to hold themselves accountable with tangible tactics to get there in the short term. You may wake up five years from now with the same goal and resentment that you're not there. That resentment increases negativity involving your professional life and you deserve better. It is much easier to focus on the long-term goals that seem so far away, rather than be accountable and present in your current professional life. If I learned anything in my career mistakes is that when you readjust your focus to the present, you obtain the highest level of power a professional can hold.

I have gained an immense amount of knowledge, since pivoting my business strategy skill set to focus on myself as a brand. If we hold ourselves accountable for individuality, rely on performance metrics as only a portion of our validation equation, and allow short-term goals to guide us to long-term success we'll be far more successful than we could have envisioned in our five- or ten- year plans. Career advancement is an ongoing process, this strategy, like all strategies, is not a set it and forget it. Rather, it's about learning and leveraging that which will take you to the greatest heights.

5 min read

3 Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress Each Evening (Instead of Reaching for Another Cocktail)

When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.

The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.

While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.

Risks of Reaching for Another Drink

Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.

Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.

While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.

Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress

Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!

Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:

  1. Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
  2. Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
  3. Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.

Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.

Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First

It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.

However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.

If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.

I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.