Career mistakes are an inevitable part of life.  No one gets it right every day and in every situation. This post is a very personal one.  It details things that I have done and the lessons I have learnt. It is my hope that through this blog post that you will not make these mistakes that I have made.

Poor Financial Habits

I began my first job at the age of 18.  If I had to do it all over again I would have begun with a focus and diligent saving plan from day one. I was so happy when I received my first pay check that I spent it all within one week.

I bought clothes, shoes and things that I just wanted to be honest without too much thought.  I know it’s an extremely liberating feeling earning your own money and to be able to walk into a store and walk out with any item of your choice.

However, budgeting and good financial habits are traits if you possess from day one can set up your financial future. Aimlessly spending money on new items that are perishable is not wise.

 My father always says it is not how much you earn but it is how much you can keep.  If I had to do it over again, I would have started researching various investment opportunities and understanding these better in my early teen years.

Lesson Learnt: Begin Financial Planning From the First Paycheck

Took a 6 for a 9 Literally

During the early stages of my career I worked as an auditor. I was interested in gaining experience in accounting and financial services. This was truly an opportunity that I prayed for and my prayers were answered. 

One day, I made a massive error where I literally mixed up a 6 for a 9 on a job that I was assigned. It was an error that anyone could have made based on the scenario.

However, I must admit I was really hard on myself about the incident as it was a costly mistake.  It taught me to be more attentive to details. This skill is extremely important to have in any job.

Had I been more attentive, I would have realised or questioned the disparity. I often remember this incident especially when I have occupied senior roles when dealing with junior employees. My employer really exercised a lot of patience, forgiveness and compassion with me over the incident. Another employer may have fired me.

Lesson Learnt: Always Pay Attention to Details

Costly Change

Have you ever considered changing a degree major or programme after you have already started the programme? If you have ever been in this boat you know that this could be a painful and deep decision that requires a lot of consideration.

Well, this happened to me while contemplating whether to specialise in finance or marketing. Initially, I decided to do finance so I went ahead and purchase books that for specialisation. There was on a sale that the University so I took advantage of the deal.

Fast forward 6 months before the time for me to start my specialisation; the thought came to me that I should do something different. So throwing caution to the wind and actually having to borrow money from the bank, I proceeded to follow my heart and change direction mid-programme. I embarked on my studies in marketing.

This is one of the most costly decisions of my career to date. I did not spend any time reflecting before proceeding to commit my finances to an area of study. Looking back however it was so worth it. It shaped the shift in my career from finance to operational and commercial roles.

My advice to anyone who started along a particular road and feels the urge to change direction is to follow your heart. It won’t lead you wrong. I know it’s not easy and I know it could be costly in terms of time and money. Looking back you will be glad that you did.

Lesson Learnt: Follow Your Heart, Forget the Cost

No Verification

One day, I visited an overseas branch of the company where I worked. A co-worker wanted me to deliver some money across to another colleague at my home branch. She indicated to me that she was going to leave the money with person A.

Person A received the money from her but instead of giving me the money directly handed the envelope to person B. Person B later handed me the envelope which I immediately placed in my handbag. I was unaware of exactly how much money I had to receive.

I received a sealed envelope and not the funds directly in my hand. Knowing that I travelled with a sealed envelope that I did not know the contents of, I opened the envelope half way to ensure that the contents of the envelope was indeed money.

I verified that yes there was money in the envelope, moved it around a bit to ensure that no smaller contents fell out and sealed back the small incision that I made.

Upon arriving at my home branch, the person who had to receive the envelope was not at work.  I was on vacation leave from the following day so I left the envelope with person C to hand over to its rightful owner.

The following day I received a call from my manager asking me how much money was inside the envelope. I was unsure exactly how much as I made a small incision just to ensure that the contents were indeed money as I was travelling.

From this incident, I am always careful with accepting packages especially ones that will be in my possession for considerable period without verifying its contents fully.

Lessons Learnt: Always Verify

One individual who made a significant mistake in her career was Monica Lewinsky. I have written a post on this blog on valuable lessons from her life story. Feel free to click the previous link to explore her story.

Final Thoughts

These are personal stories that have been learning moments that helped shaped my career. Lessons learnt always help us to improve and be a better individual all-round. Hope these examples help you along your journey. Let’s sharpen each other.

My Career Mistakes That You Must Avoid


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