Two co-workers discussing about work to overcome habit of not talking

4 Mindsets & Habits That Are Holding You Back At Work

You perform well at work, but you think you could do better. So, you search for multiple tips and tricks to excel at work, and you execute it to your best, unfortunately to no avail. Wondering why that may happen?


Most likely, when we want to improve ourselves, we are more prone to search for things we should be doing rather than things we should not be doing. It does not matter if you work your best practices, if you don’t clear your mind from mindsets and habits that are holding you back. It’s like pouring water into a holed bucket, expecting it to be full.


Two girls working happily together as mindset doesn't hold them back


First and foremost, that hole must be filled. For the time being, let’s look at some of the holes in your ‘bucket’ (a.k.a. brain) that are holding you back at work.


1. Being resistant to change.

It’s beneficial for employees to have consistent patterns, but you don’t want to be so set in your ways that you’re unable to change. If not, changes can be hard for you, especially if you are not involved in the decision-making that results in those changes, or if you don’t see the need for them.


And you will probably have a hard time being in control of how you express your frustration.  Ranting to a colleague may be alright, but you don’t want to get to the point that you might be unintentionally disruptive to your team. 


Two co-workers discussing about work to overcome habit of not talking


At times like this, it’s the most beneficial for us to shift our perspective, that the only constant in life changes. Since adaptability is the key to survival, refusing to change might have negative consequences. Take the example of the effects of COVID-19 on the workforce; if you don’t adapt to work from home, you literally could die working in the office. (Fairly a stretch, but you get my point).



2. Always feeling you’re not good enough.

It can stem from the external pressure of society, or from childhood experiences. Whichever the origin is, it magnifies your mistakes and challenges in your workplace, which makes it very energy-draining.


Asian girl feeling sad as boss scolds her


Overwhelmed by this emotion, you might tend to see more ‘evidence’ that you will never be good enough (and less, actual evidence of your competency and how you are actually good enough, if not great). Even worse, you might subconsciously hunt for indicators that you don’t measure up! This creates an unhelpful, unproductive self-fulfilling prophecy.


3. Not being a team player.

There’s no denying that working closely with people who hold opposing viewpoints can be exhausting. But holding resentment due to the differences does not help anyone. When personality clashes do occur, take note of the particular differences that you’re working with, and focus more on getting the job done rather than disputing methods and technicalities.


Two woman discussing at work about habits that are holding them back


On the other hand, even if you work well with differences, you can lose the motivation of being a team player when you feel that you are not that contributive anyways. When you’re part of a team, that’s part of a larger department, which is part of the broader company, you just see your part of the project and have little to no idea how it fits into the wider picture.


However, keep in mind that every single employee is a piece of a larger puzzle. For example, completing a weekly report may seem just like another clerical job at hand. But without the report, the upper management won’t have a tangible record to look into to evaluate the company’s performance. The better the company’s performance evaluation, the better it is for you as an employee as well.


4. Apologizing too much.

Yes, it is critical to be accountable. Apologizing for your mistakes is important. But such a big apology for such a small mistake like spilling a cup of coffee? Or to even say sorry for things that should be doing like ‘bothering’ your supervisor with a work-related question?


Seek solace in the fact that over-apologizing is a common behavior. But it is not a productive behavior that will benefit you in the workforce. You could not only be continuously reminding yourself that you’re wrong, but you could also give the appearance to others that you’re lacking in confidence or even being fake.



How to Overcome These Mindsets and Habits?


1. Communicate your concerns with your co-workers or the management.

In the workforce context, discussing your concerns with relevant parties can be helpful. For example, what possibilities might the transition bring?


What abilities may you bring to the table to help you deal with the shift the most effectively? Bringing these kinds of questions to the table can dissolve a lot of uncertainty, and help the change to be easier on you.


A bunch of workers talking about problems to overcome them


Additionally, concentrating on progress could also be beneficial. Most changes usually happen only on the methods and technicalities; the goals and KPIs usually remain the same. Whatever route you take, you and your co-workers are heading to the destination anyways.


So try to make that the center of your discussions as well. Make that the focus, and cultivate yourself in a way that whatever changes that you need to make, you can always produce the same intended, if not greater, results.


2. Be informed of how the SOPs and policies of your company can compensate for your shortcomings.

There will be many new duties and obstacles in your professional life, which leads to a higher probability of you making mistakes. But that is why there are training and growth opportunities in your position; to reduce your mistakes and increase your competency.


That is what your boss is there for; to supervise and mentor you to allow things to go smoothly regardless of your mistakes. That is what your co-workers are there for; to compensate for each other’s shortcomings.


No one enjoys failing, it stings no matter what. However, think about the worst-case situation; it’s likely that it’s not as bad as you envision in your moments of overwhelming doubt. If a failure occurs, regardless of the severity, simply follow the SOP and your employer and coworkers will compensate for it. Then, learn from your mistakes, and move on.


3. Instead of saying “sorry”, say “thank you”.

Let me remind you again; everyone makes mistakes and everyone compensates for everyone’s mistakes anyways. Thus, it is actually healthier for both parties if you replace ‘sorry’ with ‘thank you’. It will not feel too much self-depreciation for you, and the other party would feel more warm-hearted and more appreciated thus motivated to help you more in the future.


Woman shaking hands and smiling to her boss thanking him


Here are some examples to guide you:

    • “Thank you for helping me clean up the spill.” (Instead of “Sorry I spilled the coffee.”)
    • “Thank you for waiting for me to start the meeting.” (Instead of “Sorry I’m late for the meeting.”)
    • “Thank you for the feedback given.” (Instead of “Sorry that I didn’t do a good job”)




So, there you have it, on how to overcome the four mindsets and habits that are holding you back at work. Remember, this article serves only to give information, so you can gain insights about your own frame of mind, not to ruminate about how terrible you are. The more important thing to do right now is to plan strategically to improve yourself. And it’s not easy anyways, so don’t be so hard on yourself. All the best!


For further reading on the topic of mindsets, check out this article on 8 Self-Limiting Mindsets That Could Be Holding You Back.

An introvert writer since 2009. Writes about personal growth, psychology & looking at life from a different perspective. Enjoys a lazy evening watching YouTube on the cozy bed.

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