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4 Surprising Ways Women Unconsciously Sabotage Their Careers

You’re doing everything right! You’re working hard, going the extra mile and getting things done when no one else can. You believe you’re now ready for a promotion. To your dismay, during your annual review you learn not only are you NOT getting the promotion, you’re not even getting your due praise for the work you’ve been doing.

What the fudge?

This sends you into a tizzy and now you are bashing everyone at your company, hate your boss, convinced “the man” is out to sabotage your career. You’ve also become unpleasant to be around because all you do is complain about what you haven’t gotten, what you deserve and start sounding like Viserys–Khaleesi’s brother on Game of Thrones. Well, you know what ended up happening to him, right?

Let’s take a look at where you might be going wrong in your quest for career advancement, without knowing it.

Staying late
There is this myth that staying late regularly is how you get ahead and show you’re a hard worker. Majority of the time, I guarantee no one is expecting you to stay late, notices or even cares.

Regularly working late is not a badge of honor, and there are many articles and studies showing that working after hours leads to you not being very productive, becoming unhealthy and burning out. Plus, you are now setting up the expectation that you have no problem staying late.

Instead of assuming you have to stay, be crystal clear and ask if you are needed, but only if you are really willing to stay. Otherwise, close up shop, get out and recharge, and tackle work during regular work hours. That’s what you’re getting paid for.

Waiting for the offer
Another misconception is that it’s the job of your boss to give you a promotion. Why? Because you are doing such a stellar job?

I am all for praise when people do stellar work, but I don’t believe it’s your boss’s job to look out for YOUR career. That’s your job.

If you’ve been waiting for months or years for that promotion or raise, it’s time to stop waiting for them to notice your hard work. Set up a meeting with your boss to let them know exactly what you want, and ask what needs to happen in order for you to get it. It’s the only way to make sure you and your boss are on the same page.

Being humble
According to, humble means not thinking, saying or showing you believe you are better than other people. It feels like this definition has been distorted to mean you should smother your gifts and talents and never take pride in anything you do.

This is all wrong.

Just because you are proud of your achievements, are the best at what you do, or come up with a genius idea does not necessarily mean you think you are better than others. And, honestly, so what if you are?

I’m just so over women not speaking up and taking ownership in the amazing things we know and can do. Stop being “humble” and celebrate your accomplishments, talents and skills. Realize you’ll have to prove your expertise and leadership in order to move up the corporate ladder, and that includes making your boss aware of your achievements so they recognize your contributions.

Playing the martyr
As women, our number one concern is being liked. It is deeply embedded into our DNA, and it harms us and sabotages our careers. And you may be wondering what is wrong with being liked? It’s because it usually leads to you becoming a resentful doormat.  

When you continually bend over backwards to help others, it’s not always reciprocated and then you start to feel resentful because, as one of my client said, “no one is bowing down and kissing my feet and telling me how wonderful I am.”

Your martyrdom goes unworshipped and you get irritated with your colleagues, when you really need to get angry with yourself because you created this. They don’t know what you sacrificed to come to their aide.

It’s time to retrain everyone, including yourself, and start slowly setting boundaries and saying no to incessant request that are not helping you meet your deadlines and accomplish your career goals.

Start setting setting boundaries of what you will and will no longer do so you can focus on creating your best work, and begin taking pride in showcasing your achievements. Moving up the corporate ladder is more than rocking your skills and talents. You have to get noticed by asking for what you want, and then being persistent in getting it.

Ask for what you want.

How to stop comparing yourself to your coworkers and focus on you

“Why are they getting a promotion? I’ve been here longer and no one is giving me a promotion.”

“Why are they getting called into a meeting and I’m not? Are they talking about me?”

“How come they get to leave early? Must be nice!”

During the work day, these are just some of the thoughts that have run through my mind. If these questions have also recently swirled around your brain, instead of getting angry, upset and jealous of the unfair advantages you believe are happening to your coworkers, see this as your wake-up call.

Turn that frustration into focus and take a serious look at your career, your skills and your performance. Don’t waste time thinking about what your colleagues are doing or why they appear to have more opportunities than you. I know it’s hard but concerning yourself with what other people are doing is not going to help you get you the status you are looking for.

Focus on your own paper
You have NO idea what your colleagues are really doing, who they are networking with, or their career goals. It can be so easy to look at someone else and think stellar things just happen to them but realize you are only seeing their highlight reel. You don’t know what is going on behind the scenes. You also have no idea what they might’ve given up or compromised on to get where they are. And furthermore, it’s none of your business. So focus on you!

Take a career inventory
Consider what you have been contributing to the company since you arrived and what you plan to contribute to help the company’s mission move forward. How have you improved since you’ve started? What new projects have you worked on, completed, collaborated or executed to perfection?

Start keeping track of the projects you’ve managed, praise you have gotten, kudos you’ve received, processes you’ve created, etc. so when it’s time to speak to your boss, you are prepared with evidence.

Bottomline: Focusing on your colleagues are doing does nothing to further your career, all it does is make you jealous, resentful and unproductive. There are better uses of your time that can actually help you achieve your career goals.

Your action this week is to start documenting your achievements, whether that’s in a journal, a file on your Google Docs, or cutting out clips or articles that mention you, however collecting praise works in your world. Get to it.


What to do when you have no idea how to get it all done?

Your boss has asked you to take on a new project. You excitedly accept and think this is your chance to shine and show off your skills.

Yet, when you start to dig into this assignment and begin dissecting the pieces of what it takes to get it done, you suddenly realize you are a.) not as excited as you once thought you were or b.) realize this project is going to take a lot more work than you originally planned.

What do you do then?

You continue to work on the project, of course! You stress yourself out to the point of exhaustion and put in late hours, instead of admitting you need help. You don’t want to look incompetent and convince yourself that you alone can get it all done, if you just focus and work harder and longer.

Does this scenario sound familiar?

Consider while you are working so hard, you could be damaging your career and reputation producing crappy work, because things are slipping through the cracks that you didn’t anticipate. You’re also going to be in a foul mood, and annoyed at your co-workers because they should know you are struggling and offer to help.

Reset expectations
When I first started out as a proofreader, this used to always happen to me. My bosses would shove jobs in my face, saying it had to be reviewed yesterday. I would dutifully review the job, sometimes while they were standing around me, waiting, and I always missed something.

Finally, I started speaking up and setting the expectations up front. I let them know, their rush was not mine, and no they could not stand around waiting for me to review the job. If they insisted they had to wait, I would take the job and leave the room.

If I didn’t set my boundaries, I would have continued to miss things and wouldn’t have built the reputation I have now for eradicating vexatious errors.

Ask for what you need
When you find yourself with projects that are just too much for you to do alone or you need more time, admit it and speak up! Share with your boss what assistance you need, whether it’s a connection to someone, guidance on how to proceed, more time, more people, more space, more whatever.

You are doing yourself and your career a disservice by trying to figure things out on your own. Your boss and coworkers may be willing to help you, if you tell them how, but first, you have to ask.