5 Career Myths You Need to Stop Believing

It's 2015, y'all.

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Did you know that the résumé was created in 1482 by Leonardo Da Vinci? No joke. And while the formatting may have changed since then, a lot of our job convictions haven't. Like...

1. There's a Career Path—and if you switch things up, you could be stuck forever and never find your way back.

Wrong. In today's world, most experts agree that the idea of a "path" is outdated, and more importantly, can be harmful to career-seekers. Why? Because not only does a career path imply a true destination, but it makes you afraid to take risks and switch things up. "People make career moves every single day," says Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster. "I've seen lawyers become holistic health coaches, I've seen an engineer become a full-time juggler, I've seen it all! Yes, making a move can be done and yes, it takes time and a certain amount of finesse, patience and connections, but if you're unhappy you certainly deserve to find a better opportunity." Remember this: Even if you feel "stuck" in a job or industry after switching careers, you can always become "unstuck" by taking classes, networking, and trying hard to present yourself as a strong candidate for your next move.

2. You have to have a manager role in order to be considered a "leader" in the workplace.

Nope. Two things here: 1) As many workplaces trend towards lateral positioning rather than hierarchical roles, the idea of what a "leader" is in the workplace is shifting. 2) Thankfully, many Millennials are already changing the way they see management. In fact, 83% of Millennials say they already feel like a leader, according to The Hartford's 2014 Millennial Leadership Survey, and that number will hopefully only grow. "I believe it's a myth that you need to officially manage other people at work to be considered a leader," says Hartford expert Lindsey Pollak. "If you are someone who steps up to challenges, has integrity, and achieves your employer's goals, you are a leader even if you don't have an official management title yet."

3. Dressing for the job means blazers and trousers and neutrals.

If that works for you, and is your taste, absolutely. But if it's not? You shouldn't feel confined to stick to an Office Uniform. As Pollak told us, "What is most important is learning what respected people in your industry or company wear and then interpreting that in a way that is authentic for you." And yes, that means you can totally wear black all day, everyday if you want.

4. Lateral moves are a waste of time. 

"Moving laterally may mean your salary is stagnant, but you should think of your career as more like a lattice than a direct one-way ladder on the way to the top," says Salemi. "Making a move into another group may position you better in the long-term and for an even better opportunity externally once you gain coveted skills and experience in that lateral role."

5. You achieve success by putting your career at the very top of your priority list.

Raise your hand if you've ever felt terrible because a colleague or boss made it seem like all they do is work. (I can't see you but I'm guessing at least a couple of hands are up...) Guess what—most of it is a trap. While working hard is a must for success, that doesn't mean you have to be working ALL THE TIME. In fact, most experts agree that taking *real* vacations (AKA not working ones) and placing other things on your priority list (yes, maybe even above work) makes for a better, happier, and more productive employee. (And if you haven't read about The Disease of Being Busy and The Busy Trap, you should. Right now.)

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Samantha Leal
Senior Editor

Samantha Leal is the Deputy Editor at Well+Good, where she spends most of her day thinking of new ideas across platforms, bringing on new writers, overseeing the day-to-day of the website, and working with the awesome team to produce the best stories and packages. Before W+G, she was the Senior Web Editor for Marie Claire and the Deputy Editor for Latina.com, with bylines all over the internet. Graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a minor in African history, she’s written everything from travel guides to political op-eds to wine explainers (currently enrolled in the WSET program) to celebrity profiles. Find her online pretty much everywhere @samanthajoleal.