3 Ways You Might Be Holding Yourself Back in the Workplace

Upset Tired Employee

It’s natural to feel stifled in the workplace from time to time; most people have bouts of feeling like their efforts go unnoticed or they’re not as far along in their career as they’d like to be. Nevertheless, it’s important to look at the ways your actions contribute to that frustration before you start blaming external sources. Whether you feel overshadowed, under-appreciated, or unmotivated, it’s important to make sure that you’re not guilty of practicing these three habits that hold you back and stifle your personal development.

1. Not Communicating Your Ideas and Suggestions

Even if you show up on time and deliver positive results on a consistent basis, it’s also important to show that you’re thinking of the big picture. Employees who frequently suggest ideas on how to make the company run more efficiently — and even question the current way things are done — stand out to employers.

If you’re under the impression that your suggestions wouldn’t be valuable, you’re severely limiting the opportunities you have to make a strong impact. Most companies hire employees to start at a base level in hopes of building future leaders, and if you’re too afraid of putting your thoughts out there, your name won’t come to mind when your boss is thinking of who they should promote.

Something else to remember is that, when communicating your ideas, digital methods are definitely acceptable nowadays. “Phone calls and voicemail are still popular,” write the experts at ASU, “but text messaging is preferred by both age [millennial and baby boomer] groups. Similarly, digital communication methods like social media messaging and IM platforms are on the rise.”

Remember: the point is not to have something to say about every topic at every meeting. That would be overkill. Still, remember to voice your opinion when something does pop up in your mind. Don’t limit yourself by assuming that someone else’s ideas carry more merit than yours, whether it’s because they have been employed at the company longer than you have, or because they are higher up in the management chain. Your ideas are worth sharing, and making your voice heard will set you up to have a better future with your occupation.

2. Being Afraid of Additional Responsibility

Too many people stay in the same position for years because the thought of the responsibility that comes along with advancement makes them nervous. It’s not necessarily the responsibility itself that’ll scare a person, but, more often than not, it’s rather the fear of failing at those responsibilities.

If you’re not pushing yourself to inquire about promotions because of a fear of anything or any kind, it’s time to snap out of that mindset. Growing pains are a natural part of life, and the first part of growth is stepping out of your comfort zone.

When you start in any new position, it’s going to be nerve-wracking at first. However, you eventually learn from the experience, grow from it, and adjust to what the daily responsibilities require. Just because a higher position might involve more doesn’t mean you won’t be given time to transition to it the same as you would a lower one, adjusting as you go. It might be something you really flourish in, and going through life afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone will only continually set you up to miss many chances.

Lastly, if you’re the type that gets anxiety at work over things like promotions or your responsibilities, practice some of these tips for dealing with workplace anxiety. Plenty of people suffer from anxiety at work, but handle it using the right strategies.

3. Feeling a Lack of Direction

One of the biggest contributors to stunted personal development is a feeling of aimlessness and being uncertain about your career and future. Wayne Gretzky once famously stated that you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. Now, imagine how hard it is to motivate somebody to take a shot if they can’t even see the target or the goal. The alternative, instead, is to stay in one spot and hope that something happens, that an opportunity will present itself, in lieu of your seeking one out.

Waiting for an opportunity to present itself like this cultivates complacency and makes it extremely easy to stay in the same position. Going to work every day wrapped in a blanket of certainty, knowing exactly what to expect, allows you to stay comfortably adrift — and it’s not until you’ve discovered what direction you want your career to go that you’ll realize how long you’ve been floating in the same spot. Think about where you want to see yourself in the company in the next year. Think about whether you want to stay with them at all.

It’s important to set goals goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound — or S.M.A.R.T., for short. These are the same parameters that leaders set definitively, according to the University of Cincinnati.

Until you know where you’re going, you’re truly staying in one spot, and that is the definition of holding yourself back.

It’s normal to reach a point of feeling stuck in the workplace, and while some of that feeling is circumstantial, other forms of it could be self-inflicted. If you’re afraid to speak up, are nervous about handling increased responsibility, or feel unsure of what direction to take your career, then you need to understand that you’re partly responsible for those feelings of frustration. On the positive side, realizing that you are capable of holding yourself back is the first step in realizing that you’re also capable of pushing yourself forward; you just have to gather the motivation to make the change.

Andrew Heikkila is a tech enthusiast, a futurist, and a business owner from the Pacific Northwest. He believes in the power of technology to guide the world in the right direction, but also understands human fallibility means it won't always be used to these ends. Still, he has hope that people will transcend their natural devices, and become the beings we have the potential to be. You can follow him through the buttons below.