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Bumps in the Road

At the ACS Careers blog, John Borchardt discusses what he calls "career potholes" — events or behaviors that disrupt one's professional trajectory — and how to avoid them. "Just like potholes in the road, career potholes can upset your mental equilibrium and focus," he says. Since some bumps are generally out of one's control — job loss, for example — Borchardt says it's best to prepare for the worst. "You should at the least be prepared for job loss by updating your résumé, developing a job-hunting plan, and building up your personal savings," he says. However, Borchardt adds, there are several career potholes that are avoidable. For example, he says that taking vacation time to "recharge your mental batteries" can actually improve productivity, adding that some "toxic career behaviors" are also avoidable. "I used to be so completely focused on my work that I seldom considered my coworkers. I would rush from my office to my lab and back again," Borchardt says. "My boss gave me a wakeup call when he commented that whenever he saw me I had a scowl on my face."

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