Career Myths That Need to End in 2023
It's a new year and time to put some things to rest
I am often struck by the persistent misconceptions we have about our careers, which always seem to pop up over and over. No matter how many times these myths are debunked, we always seem to fall back on them—and our reliance on these tropes does real harm to our ability to grow.
In today’s post, I will be discussing nine harmful career myths that we should kick to the curb in 2023. As we enter the new year, let’s start off on the right foot by killing these myths once and for all. This is our chance to make the conscious decision to let go of these stereotypes and stop allowing them to influence our future.
1. Working hard = having an impact
I was always taught that working long hours and being “hardcore” meant that you were automatically influencing and having an impact. This is simply not true.
Some of the best people I've worked with weren’t necessarily the ones who put in the late nights. Instead, they were the ones who found the most effective ways of getting things done. On the other hand, I have also worked with people who put in many long hours without seeing a return. Their work either didn't ladder up to the company strategy, or they were ineffective in how they approached things. This just ended up causing more churn and creating more work. It was a vicious cycle, and they wondered why they were never promoted.
Working hard and putting in long hours don’t mean much if the results aren’t there. Instead of late nights and stress, we should be measuring our success based on our outcomes and impact.
2. Career growth is your manager's responsibility
Who do you think cares more about your career? Your manager, or you?
Of course the answer is you. So why would you put the thing that you care about more in the hands of someone else?
For a period of time in my career, I went through seven managers in two and a half years, four months of which I spent on maternity leave. During that period, I never had a single manager for more than a few months at a time. I eventually realized I could not rely on them, even though many were well-meaning and kind. They just didn’t have a wide enough view into my trajectory to help me get where I wanted to go. The amount of churn among my managers showed me that I could not take my own career growth for granted. As a result, I learned to become a self-advocate and shape my own path.
Managers come and go, but your goals and motivations will be with you forever. Be proactive about your career. Don’t trust that someone else will just take care of it. You are your own best advocate, so don’t sell yourself short.
3. I shouldn't have to ask to get promoted
All too often I speak to people who are having difficulties with their managers. When I ask them what the issue is, they often say something along the lines of, “My manager won’t promote me!”
But how many of them actually asked? You might be surprised to hear that most of them haven’t.
We tend to think asking for a promotion is gauche or unseemly. And perhaps, in some companies, it is. But making that assumption puts you at a disadvantage. How can your manager help you get what you want if you’ve never articulated what that is?
So many people don’t ask about promotion because they’re afraid the answer will be no. But even if it is, you can still gain valuable information—whether that’s a roadmap to the next level or a sign that it’s time to move on. Someone once came up to me at one of my book talks and said, “I asked my manager if he would promote me. He not only said no, but he also told me I will never get promoted at this company.” I told her that was great news, because now she was free to look for another role without feeling like she had to stay. By asking, even though she got the answer she didn't want, she was able to gain the clarity she really needed.
4. Your identity is the job you have today
“What do you do?”
When you meet someone new, this is almost always one of the first questions they ask. They are looking for information about your industry, company, and role. They are assessing you on the basis of what you tell them. But it’s easy to forget that you are so much more than your current job, and while it’s a useful topic for cocktail party chatter, your identity goes much further.
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