3 career habits to break (and 1 to make) in 2023
We’re 25 days into 2023, which means most of us have done away with our New Year’s resolutions. We thought technology would deliver flying cars by now, but instead, we have apps that can pinpoint the exact day we quit trying to become better people. Most studies on New Year resolutions indicate that the majority of them fail, so we understand the urge to give up while you’re
ahead behind and live a heathen life. 😉
In an unscientific Instagram/LinkedIn poll last week (#LikeAndFollow), we did discover that three-quarters of Powrsuiters are looking for positive change – specifically at work. Congrats to the almost 50% of employers who’ve delivered a clear path of progression (the other half might need to subscribe to Powrsuit).
Many of us have ingrained habits that impact our ability to achieve our work goals. We’ve rounded up three that are career-limiting and one that can set you up for success. While motivation is still high and we are still officially in ‘fresh start effect’ season, let’s get down to business.
1. Stop saying sorry
Two women walk into a bar. They both apologise so much that the bar closes before they finish. Bad jokes aside, start paying attention, and you’ll notice how much time women spend apologising. Amy Schumer’s ‘Sorry’ skit may hit a little too close to home.
A man and a woman bump into each other. She apologises, and he reassures her it’s ok. Studies support what many of us recognise; women apologise far more than men – but the reason might surprise you. Research from the University of Waterloo found that men and women apologise the same amount when they believe they should. Putting aside the trope of men not being able to recognise when they’re at fault, this highlights a very real issue with women and their personal threshold for ‘wrongdoing’.
A good apology is the outcome of genuine remorse and self-reflection and shouldn’t be an automatic response. When women overuse the word unnecessarily, it loses meaning and is, quite frankly, annoying.
While it may feel like an innocuous compulsion, over-apologising can highlight a lack of professional maturity. Every ‘sorry’ takes the spotlight off the topic and shines it on an individual’s needs. As you move up the career ladder and are expected to take on more responsibility with less support, constant requests for reassurance wear thin. It may even reduce leadership confidence in your ability to step up – so when the urge arises, bite your tongue
Keep track of how many times a day you say sorry. Keep a count in a physical or digital notepad, and let us know your #SorryCount.
2. Ditch the body obsession
Steve Jobs wore black skivvies every day for a reason: to reduce the mental fatigue that comes from decision-making. Many high-profile leaders have adopted the same habit to free up the brain space for the much-more-important work they have on their plates. Yet, many women still devote much of their brain space to fixating on their bodies.
The latest beauty craze, Buccal fat removal, is the latest in a long line of fads that encourage women to modify themselves to conform to the newest standard. A conspiracy theorist may think the constant pressure to switch up how you look was designed to overwhelm women, so they had less time to take on the world. A regular person would be forgiven for thinking the same.
You, however, can rebel. Be fit, eat healthily, and head to the gym, salon or botox clinic whenever you like – it’s good to feel good. But quit the negative self-talk that’s doing nothing but taking up valuable brain space.
It’s 2023, and your value doesn’t come from your waist/hips/thighs. As leaders, we must add ‘positive role model’ to our job descriptions – younger people look up to us, and the normalisation of self-hatred is not the future we aspire to create.
Get down with Love, Sex and Goop – strip naked in front of the mirror and look at your body. Recognise the flaws, and find the bits you do like. Get comfortable in your own skin.
3. Neutralise the #PassAgg
Confrontation is scary; feedback is scarier. Avoiding both in favour of snarky comments, gossiping, backhanded compliments or subtle digs – well, that makes us the toxic ones.
While there are difficult personalities and dynamics in every workplace, most sources of conflict are simply miscommunications. We often overestimate how much others know about our feelings and can unjustifiably resent the message. Rather than addressing issues head-on, women have been socialised to adopt passive aggressive behaviour, expressing hostility ambiguously and indirectly.
Passive aggressive behaviour may deliver short-term validation, but long-term? It negatively impacts our reputations, and we miss out on learning critical leadership skills.
As we progress up the career ladder, we must neutralise this toxic trait to develop relationships, manage conflict and lean into clear, kind and honest feedback. The ability to constructively assert an opinion has an additional benefit; it lets colleagues know that we do, in fact, have one.
The first step to breaking the #PassAgg habit is getting comfortable with the fact that it’s ok to disagree with people at work.
One habit to make in 2023: boundaries
Putting your own oxygen mask on first, doing less better, self-care… Boundaries are the hedge that protects your ability to get important sh*t done. The 2022 phenomenon of ‘quiet quitting’ could be more accurately described as ‘acting your wage’, establishing boundaries, and refusing to go above and beyond. Burnout is real, and learning to say ‘no’ can be your best defence.
Want to supercharge this habit while minimising pushback? Boundaries, like affirmations, are best spoken aloud. Initiate meaningful conversations about why you won’t accept a 7:30 pm Zoom call or why you switch off on the weekend. Go on, practise clear, kind and honest communication (#NoMorePassAgg!).
We want you to protect yourself so you can smash out some important stuff in 2023, so here’s a simple guide to setting and protecting boundaries:
Identify your personal values: Use your values to identify your non-negotiables and the boundaries you want to set as a result.
Plan and communicate them: ‘No’ might be a complete sentence, but it doesn’t make your boundaries more achievable. If dinner with the family is a priority, team planning sessions will help ensure you aren’t landed with end-of-day tasks (and no one is left picking up the slack when you leave). Remember, the more precisely you communicate your boundaries, the more likely they’ll be respected. Rather than ‘I don’t want to work late’, say ‘I need to leave by 6 pm’.
Protect them: Be consistent. People may try to undermine your boundaries, and letting them slide will confuse matters. If the meeting runs over, your deep work is interrupted, or you’re asked to take on too much work, politely restate your agreed boundary.
The next time you turn down an invite, give the actual reason, not an excuse. You might get pushback from someone trying to violate your boundary (not your problem!), but you’re more likely to grow trust and respect.