Do you know what I’ve always wanted to get my greedy little hands on? A crystal ball.
Why? Quite simply, I’m a planner. And as far as I’m concerned, there’s no better way to avoid missteps and blunders now, than by seeing exactly how things will play out in the future. After all, hindsight is 20/20, right? Looking years down the road would be a surefire way to avoid any major regrets.
But, that’s not the way life works. We all have certain misgivings we have to live with. Some of them take us by total surprise—situations you felt so sure of in the moment wind up leaving you scratching your head and wondering what on earth went wrong.
And, others? Well, you should’ve seen them coming—crystal ball or not.
I can’t wave my hands around like some mystical fortuneteller in a dark sideshow tent and tell you what the future holds. However, I can do you one better and share seven career decisions you’ll—without a doubt—always regret.
So, come one, come all and prepare to be amazed. While you may not be able to see into the future, you’ll know enough to avoid these common regrettable choices.
1. Participating in Office Gossip
When’s the last time you heard someone say something like, “I’m so glad I participated in that snarky whisper session about Joe’s closed door meeting with the boss! That really took my career to the next level!”?
Probably never. Believe me, partaking in that pesky (and all too tempting) office gossip will only bring you down. So, stay far away from it and instead opt to channel that energy into your work. It’ll be much better for you in the long run.
2. Burning Bridges
Yes, there are those rare occasions when you need to cut ties with a contact for your own sanity and personal well-being. But, most of the time, burning bridges isn’t advisable.
Make your best effort to leave a positive impression on everyone you meet. It may sound cliché, but it’s true: You never quite know who you’ll cross paths with in the future.
3. Compromising Your Core Values
Being adaptable can be a positive quality. But, you never want to be so accommodating that you wind up consistently brushing your own beliefs and convictions aside.
Whether your boss asks you to do something that makes you uncomfortable, you see something that you think needs to be reported to HR, or a company doesn’t seem to mesh with your own vision and priorities, always remember to stay true to your own core values. If you don’t respect them, you definitely can’t expect anybody else to.
4. Chasing Only Money
There’s no denying that a paycheck is important. But, it’s also important to remember that it doesn’t make up the entirety of your career, your success, or your happiness.
No, I won’t blame you for pursuing pay increases—it’s understandable and in many situations, something you should do. However, if you spend your entire career chasing those next few dollars (while completely disregarding other important factors like growth opportunities and company culture), you’ll likely only end up disappointed in the end.
5. Holding Yourself Back
Turning down that exciting opportunity, simply because it takes you outside of your comfort zone. Refusing to toss your hat into the ring for that promotion, because you’re far too terrified of rejection. Not even bothering to submit your information for that job that sounds perfect, because you’re already certain you’ll never land an interview.
Sure, they might seem like effective ways to stay safe and preserve your own ego. But, trust me, those will be the “what if?” scenarios that will haunt you well into your old age.
6. Shifting Blame
I know how tempting it can be to point fingers in the heat of the moment. After all, owning your own mistakes can be tough. However, you already know that this approach typically just ends up backfiring.
So, resist that temptation and instead accept responsibility right off the bat—no matter how mortifying your mistake.
7. Settling For Mediocrity
Life gets crazy sometimes, and coasting by with the bare minimum can seem like a good idea. But, you don’t hear of too many people (or any, really) who got exactly what they wanted out of their careers by simply accepting the status quo. No, you need to push yourself to take charge of your own growth and career development. Skating by might seem easier, but it will always be unsatisfying.
Yes, having a crystal ball would be handy for helping you stave off those pesky decisions you only live to regret. But, unfortunately, it’s not a realistic possibility quite yet (come on, science).
Even though you can’t see clearly into the future, there are a few career decisions that will always be lamentable. Stay far, far away from these seven, and you can live life with far fewer regrets—even without a crystal ball.
Photo of sad woman courtesy of JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she's also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author