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Top Ways to Self-Sabotage and Miss Being Promoted

Most people seek to progress in their chosen careers, and a good number of individuals are able to earn a promotion. But, unfortunately, this doesn't always happen. Sometimes there may be no room for advancement in an organization or an industry's openings are slim pickings due to economic reasons.

However, occasionally promotions are not happening because a person may be inadvertently sabotaging him or herself which prevents getting that more prominent, higher-paid job. While some people are aware their behaviors are preventing them from achieving a promotion and are content in their current job, most people probably do not realize that with a few changes they might be able to further their careers. 

Self-sabotage, by definition, means a person creates problems and puts barriers in front of his or her own long-standing goals. In a person's career path, there are a number of different ways a person could be hurting his or her chances for advancement.

Sabotaging Behaviors

There are several behaviors people engage in that can lead to self-sabotage. These include missed deadlines, constant put-down of colleagues or trash-talking the boss. These are all unprofessional behaviors that usually aren't viewed well in any workplace.

Additionally, being too modest or overall striving for perfection can also potentially hurt one's career. No one is perfect and mistakes do happen. Everyone makes them at some point in their career. On the other hand, another mistake some people make is refusing to admit when they have screwed up. Failure to acknowledge an error made can lead to ongoing problems with both bosses and colleagues.

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Fear of Moving Forward

The fear of moving forward can manifest in many ways. Change can be scary, and with a promotion typically comes new responsibility and accountability. If a person is not prepared to take both on, he or she may inadvertently be self-sabotaging through fear. As Psychology Today notes in an article entitled, "Are you subtly sabotaging your career?", a fear of failing at success can become a reality.1  

Putting Own Needs First

Not unlike the unofficial "rule" where you should never bring up money in the initial interview unless the employer does, same goes with promotions. However, sometimes people forget this and put their primary focus on getting ahead.

Businesses (and other types of organizations) all have a mission of some kind. Their primary concern will be meeting organizational goals and how employees can help achieve this, not promoting employees. To get promoted, a person will want to show his or her worth and demonstrate how he or she can help increase productivity, profitability or other organizational goal. Or it could mean brainstorming ideas or bringing viable solutions to the proverbial table to address current issues the organization is facing. Through this approach, employees can often better align themselves for a promotion.

If you find yourself in this position, always remember, whatever you do, keep your integrity. If you compromise your own integrity in order to put the company first, you could ruin your career in a totally different way.

Getting Involved in Office Politics

Office politics and/or gossip is possibly one of the most common ways people hurt their chances of going forward. Gossip and controversy will always be present in some shape or form in most organizational settings, however, initiating or engaging in it could hurt your chances of being promoted.  It's best to learn how to avoid gossip traps. Totally. While engaging in this type of office talk might be tempting, the long-term consequences aren't worth it.

[ Related Reading: How to Stay Out of the Office Gossip Trap ]

Whispering a secret
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Whispering a secret

The Blame Game

Blaming others for a stagnant career is a common form of self-sabotage.2 It is easy to blame a "mean" boss or a colleague that seems to get all the attention. However, sometimes it takes an inner look in one's self to evaluate and determine if it is truly someone else's fault or one's own.

While self-sabotage is not uncommon, the good news is there are ways to overcoming it and to stop being one's own worst enemy. However, on the other hand, there are times when other people are truly trying to blame a colleague and affecting his or her chances for advancement. If you find yourself in this case, you have an entirely different challenge to overcome.

And even if losing out on a promotion is someone else's fault, rarely does it help to lash out. Instead, a better approach is to be proactive and figure out how to overcome the barriers career hurdles placed in your way by other individuals.3

Either way, it helps to be proactive, not reactive.