According to the World Health Organization in an article on Occupational Health, 58% of the world's population spends one third of their adult lives at work[1]. Probably another third went into investing time, money and sweat into building our careers. However, it's just as easy to let it all slide down the drain.

1. Quitting the Job on Impulse

Top 10 Bad Career Decisions 1.Credit: disagreement with the boss or a colleague, having a bad day, having someone steal your idea - all these are emotional reasons to quit one's day job.

The trouble is, most of us don't remember how hard it was to get that job after we've got it. Then the cycle of human discontent starts again: why isn't my pay any higher, why am I stuck in this environment, etc.

Stick it out until a valid reasons comes along because before long, you'll get another job and the same cycle will repeat itself.

2. Staying in a Job You Don't Like for Too Long

How do you know when you're in a job you don't like for too long? 5 years? 10 years? Depends on the industry? We're probably in a job for too long when we've lost the wonder of it, there's no challenge left and a sure sign of frustration is when we're complaining to our friends, family, partner etc. at every chance we get.

If you've made efforts not to be jaded with your routine and are still struggling to get by the day, perhaps an aspect of your work is bothering you. It could be the company management or the job nature itself. Take some time to sort it out, and you could apply for an internal transfer or switch to a different industry or firm altogether.

3. Working Too Much For Too Little MoneyCredit:


This usually happens when we're in an industry we like but aren't very good at. An extreme example: I'd like to become the next American Idol but I'm really good at making bagels. If  I quit my bagel job to join the music industry without formal training, I'd make almost zero for the next few years but at least I get to do what I like, right? Wrong.

My advice: Continue making bagels but take singing lessons part-time. That way, you'd find out if you really have the musical talent it takes to go far and if not, well, there's always bagels to fall back on. And whoever said that bagel-makers don't make any money?

4. Working Hard and Not Smart

This is something like what was written in 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' by Robert Kiyosaki. A man works in the same job for twenty years, slaving away by the hour. At the end, he comes away with a retirement income but still not enough to live the life he would always have liked.

Obviously, some of us are happy with that monthly pay check and some companies do reward more than others so it's worth it.

But don't plug away at the same routine for ages simply because your parents did. These days, options are far and wide. Talk to people, diversify, consider other options and if you find yourself at square 1 end of the day, at least you tried. Or you may find yourself going down a different route and enjoying yourself more than ever.

5. Not Seeing Beyond That Monthly Pay Check


(Image credit: Sergio Ortega)

Sure, it's alright to work for money at the beginning, especially as most of us have bills to pay. But after a while, when the savings in your bank account start to grow - do you start spending on liabilities like that car you always wanted, or invest in assets such as a means for passive income?

Don't let financially bad habits and/or debt become the reason you can't leave the job that pays well but you hate; hence making a bad career decision in the process.

6. Resigning Because the Boss is Horrible

Now, this is subjective to situations e.g. if a lady was being harrassed by her male boss or if you were made to do something illegal/immoral then granted, these are grounds for resignation.

In the day of a life of a regular employee, everyone probably finds his or her boss awful in some way or another. But let's face it. In a way, everyone's boss is partly there to push as much work out of you for minimal reward while making you feel like staying.

So, hang in there because it all boils down to the same thing. As long as the job nature suits you and the company rewards you fairly, any issues can be trashed out or even brought up to higher management before warranting a resignation. You never know, your horrid boss might be long gone before you!

7. Starting a Business Too Soon


Some of us are eager to start a business for the following reasons: we don't wish to make another person rich, we feel we'd be more motivated if we work for ourselves and (believe it or not) because we're too lazy to get up in the mornings and the thought of being able to go in to work when you want, whatever time you want is a tantalizing prospect.

If you have a great idea with the confidence (and resources!) to make it work, fair enough.

But here are some (hard) truths:

  •  Starting a business is hard. Salaried workers only worry about their day-to-day and can fall into deep slumber after a day's labour. On the other hand, business owners have the responsibility to generate revenue and this often keeps them awake at night.
  • If you can't be faithful with another person's, what more your own? A reason to start off working for others is to learn from their mistakes. Why make them yourself?
  • We need to learn the value of people before money. When you realise how difficult it is to get by monthly working for another, you will naturally appreciate your workers when you startup on your own, and they will do likewise.
  • Starting a business needs cold hard cash. Having a stable 9-5 allows one to save enough capital to start up on one's own. You don't want to have to enter into a business with a mountain of debt.

8. Assuming You Are Indispensable


(Image credit: Jonathan McIntosh)

Nothing could be further from the truth. Many organizations collapse when the key person becomes unavailable or top management screws up, usually financially. In a competitive environment, it's hard not to feel indispensable at times.

There's no hard-and-fast way to becoming 'more indispensable' but a couple of attributes might do the trick: having a great, never-say-die attitude, doing most of the work that comes your way, highlighting your skills (rather than waiting to be noticed) and being on time every day.

Here's some more advice on 'How To Be a Great Employee'.

9. Not Updating Your Resume

Sometimes, we get so caught up in our daily tasks to the point that days turn into months, our responsibilities change and increase - before we know it, we're at the five year mark and have no idea what we did in the meantime.

Your resume is a marketing tool to show off your strengths and skills.

It's a good idea to document or update your resume several times a year, fine-tuning the existing details and adding new responsibilities and achievements, particularly so after a promotion. If you wait, you may not remember what you did ten or eleven months ago.

That way, if ever forced to get another job or if retrenchment befalls (and trust me this happens), you can start sending out resumes immediately.

10. Not Upgrading Your Skill Set

10. not upgrading skill setCredit: public domain

Ever met people who have been doing the same routine for years on end? If your company doesn't offer any fixed courses with which to upgrade oneself, it's common nowadays to search for courses on your own and propose to your manager why you, or the entire department should go.

Your skill set is your rice bowl and be it in IT, publishing, media, law, medicine etc., things are constantly changing and evolving- and it pays to keep ahead.