5 Unexpected Ways You Ruin Your Career Ambitions

When I was figuring out my ideal blog reader, it took me a little while to narrow down the age range, interests, and personality type. Who was I writing for?

But there’s one characteristic I was completely clear on from the start: I want to surround myself with ambitious women.

To many people, the words ambition and women just don’t mix. Women should be content with whatever jobs they happen to land. Why would you want to climb the corporate ladder? Just sit tight in your “administrative assistant” role, take it easy, and enjoy your regular (if skimpy) paycheck.

That’s all you can expect out of your career, right?

Well, that’s not good enough for me!

And if you’re reading this, then you know it’s not good enough for you either.

Ambitious women make me want to throw on my high school cheerleading outfit and do cartwheels across my desk. I can still remember my old cheers—A-C-T-I-O-N! Action! Action! We want some ACTION!

You deserve a career with some action just like your male colleagues, but you may be blowing your chances at advancement and not even know it!

Here are 5 unexpected ways you put the brakes on your career ambitions.

You Act Like an Entitled Brat

You’ve probably heard stories of young folks graduating from college and expecting to be handed a $50,000 per year job. They earned the degree, so they figure a high-paying position should plop into their laps. Kids these days, amiright?

But this entitlement isn’t limited to the 20-something sect. I know plenty of adults who strut around like their companies owe them.

Whether they’ve gotten more education (such as a Master’s degree, Doctorate, or any string of letters after their names) or have been with the organization for decades and have “paid their dues,” they feel entitled to promotions, big raises, and swanky corner offices.

Sorry, Charlie. No one owes you anything.

If you have entitlement oozing out your pores, then you’re probably the least likely person to get those job perks. Really, who wants to promote someone who thinks she’s better than everyone else?

Instead of acting entitled, go out of your way to be helpful, personable, and a team player. Don’t give up your ambition, but acting happy and charming will make people WANT to promote you.

Your Don’t Take Pride in Your Appearance

In my dream world, we’ll all be judged by our intellect and not by the clothes we wear. My dream world also includes talking dogs and calorie-free double chocolate cake. With sprinkles.

But since we live in the real world, don’t be the office grouch who ignores the dress code and wears yoga pants and flip flips to the board meeting. C’mon, you’re better than that.

And your appearance includes not only what’s on your body, but what’s on your face too. I’ve made it clear that I have zero tolerance for ladies with bitch faces. You know, the people who look like they’re scowling even when they’re just resting.

I used to have a bitch face too, but I actively chose to change my neutral expression once I realized how it was stunting my career growth. No excuses.

Sure, you could stick to your “morals” about equality in the workplace and ignore your appearance. But you know what would advance the rights of professional women even more? You taking pride in your appearance so that you’re promoted to CEO one day.

Your Location Sucks

When I was mulling over what major to choose while I was in college, location played a key role.

At the time, I lived in Chicago and I knew there were dozens of healthcare organizations in the city, many of which had large publishing departments. So I chose healthcare publishing and found a job much quicker than my friends.

If you’re sick of your current job, you might be spending your free time cruising the job postings online. And you might be realizing that the type of work you prefer doing just isn’t in demand in your town. Moving could be great for your career.

I’ve seen this location problem pop up for entrepreneurs with brick-and-mortar businesses too. If you create a storefront business (please, please don’t), you’ll be at the mercy of the local community. Do your ideal customers live near you? Would you get enough foot traffic to generate a buzz?

If you want to start your own business, I highly suggest creating an online headquarters. That way, you can reach your clients no matter where they live—and you can work anyplace you want too!

It’s worked for me. I currently have clients on all continents…well, except for Antarctica. Penguins don’t seem to have a need for life coaches.

You Won’t Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

Ah, the comfort zone. It’s all snuggly and warm like your bed on a cold winter morning. You’re safe and content in your comfort zone. Why would you ever want to leave it?

Ambitious women know that the comfort zone equals death. What???

Well no, I’m just being dramatic. But it will certainly kill your career.

You might feel safe and sound phoning it in from your comfort zone, but the people who get promoted or get handed opportunities are the one who take risks.

If you work in the corporate world, this could mean asking for more responsibility or schmoozing with the senior staff at the next holiday party. If you run your own business, this could include submitting guest posts or launching a program.

Your comfort zone is like the Twilight Zone. You think everything’s fine, but there’s always an awful catch.

You Continue to Think Small

If you’re not where you’d like to be in your career, that’s probably because you’ve let your ego tell you some nasty stories.

If you follow your passion, you’ll fail and look stupid!
Your business idea is terrible!
Are you crazy? You can’t charge that much!

I’ve never met a woman who didn’t feel unworthy in her career at one point or another. We think we should be grateful for anything we get, even if our dreams are much, much bigger.

And there are many other talented people out there, so it’s easy to not believe in yourself or your expertise.

If you continue to think small, you’ll continue to get small results. I might not know you, but I’m certain you’re not the type of person who’s destined for a small life. No—you deserve to shoot for the moon…or maybe the next pay grade.

If you don’t believe in yourself, then no one else will believe in you either.

These are just a few of the ways you could be ruining your career…or at the very least slowing it down.

Will you be an ambitious career woman? I promise it will be fun.

This post focuses on Step 2 of the Life Editing Process, Delete Bad Influences. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.

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  1. Ashley Laabs on February 18, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Great post, Sage! I love seeing women get energized by their plans and getting out of their own way!

  2. Sarah @ Long Island Nerd on July 14, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Yay I love this post! You are so right and I agree that location is a big deal too. I am dying to move away from my current location to get a fresh start in a new place and career. Stepping out of my comfort zone will be a big deal as well… I’ve been doing the same thing for the last six and a half years and it is scary to change but I”m definitely ready for it. This post is really inspiring as I’m entering a period in my life where I’m ready for big changes and I’m finally taking the steps I need to make my change, no matter how scary it is.

    • Sage Grayson on July 21, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Go for it, Sarah! Big changes can be scary, but they’re often worth it. 🙂

  3. Tess of luvmysparetime on July 14, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Love your post especially the ‘location sucks’ ! I’m battling location or alternative of 3 hr roundtrip commute (moving not an option yet) so I”m exploring the location free online option and being patient (I hate being patient!) with my husband’s europe search since it would dramatically change my options…as in really open up my options!

    • Sage Grayson on July 21, 2014 at 9:07 am

      I know, being patient can be so annoying! 🙂 Good luck with your search, and I highly recommend setting up an online business so you can reach more customers.