Career Suicide: 5 Steps to Failure

Rich Hopkins

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Your career can affect every area of happiness in your life, from your recreational options to your family-life, from your financial stability to your personal fulfillment. Yet so many of us fall into common traps that sabotage our careers and endanger our futures. Don’t let yourself fall prey to any of the self-destructive choices below:

1. Ignoring your talents
2. Living beyond your means
3. Torching the trellises
4. Not planning ahead
5a. Choosing a profession you don't believe in
5b. Choosing a profession you hate

1. Ignoring your talents. So what if everyone told you being an engineer would make you more money than drawing comic books? We get one life – do you want to spend it miserable and wealthy, or fulfilled and, well, maybe still wealthy? Last I checked, Todd McFarlane, the artist who rejuvenated Spider-Man and created Spawn, is worth several million dollars. Your talents exist for a reason – discover where they can take you.

2. Living beyond your means. No matter what you do, if you aren’t making enough money to cover your lifestyle, you will be unhappy, and ultimately unproductive and hazardous to your career. Either find a job that makes more money, or learn to live on what you currently make. When we learn to live a lifestyle that is in line with what we earn, we understand the true value of our efforts.

3. Torching the trellises. More commonly known as burning bridges, leaving a past employer or co-workers with a bad taste in their mouths will haunt you. If your career path doesn’t change, you’ll probably work with or for some of these people again. Even if you make a career shift or move out of state, anyone of them can turn into future clients, members of your church, or even next-door neighbors. Stay professional through every job transition, and you can preserve a wide base of support for the future.

4. Not planning ahead. Technology advancements, market conditions, layoffs – the workplace is more unstable today than at any time in the last 75 years. Stay abreast of changes in your industry. Educate yourself by keeping up with trade magazines, software updates, and company business. Be ready to land on your feet if the firmament under you falls away without warning.

5a. Choosing a cause or employer you don’t believe in. If you do not value the work you do, or the company for which you work, get out! You may be doing what you love, but if you are doing it without a strong belief behind it, it will ultimately undermine any short-term success you experience. Great newspaper salespeople may switch to billboards to make a higher income, but not be able to sell it as well if their belief in the product is too low. Take inventory of your values. Great defense attorneys don’t always make great prosecutors.

5b. Choosing a profession you hate. Sounds rather self-evident, but it happens continually. How many times a day do we deal with someone at a store, over the phone, or in our own offices who clearly hates their job? Don’t let yourself be swayed by prestige, promotion, or money if the job you will take is one you’ve sworn you’d never do, or spent much of your life de-valuing. The day will come when you look in the mirror and wonder who you’ve become.

Career failures lead to financial hardship, family strife, and depression, yet we often make knee-jerk decisions when exiting and entering the workforce. Keep these guidelines in mind next time you shift career paths: Examine your career decisions for at least 24 hours before accepting a position – if it’s the right job, it’ll still be there tomorrow. Stay true to yourself by finding an accountability partner who can objectively discuss your career path, as opposed to a close friend or family member who may have too large a stake in your affairs. Finally, remember that you are in charge of your career, not the other way around – it exists to enable you to live the rest of your life, not to destroy it.

Rich Hopkins is a speaker, coach, and consultant who aligns his clients with their own potential. He has 20 years of business background in marketing, sales, and customer service. He consults with individuals, student groups, non-profit organizations, and corporations. Rich is available for keynote presentations, seminars, training, as well as group or one-to-one coaching. Contact him at:


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