Advertising
Advertising

Career Hack: Move Sideways

Career Hack: Move Sideways

A week or two ago, during review time, the boss said to me, “If you want to move up in the company, you’re going to have to do _____.” I think I shocked him when I said, “Oh, I don’t want to move up. I like moving sideways.”

Jobs used to be about seeing how far one could climb the ladder. You’d put in your time, pay your dues, and if you were lucky, you’d move forward up into the next slot, shortly after your boss retired, died, or otherwise moved out of your runway. For lots of places, this is still pretty much the norm. But it doesn’t have to be the norm for you

Look Sideways

Advertising

Are you an engineer in a software company? How does project management sound? Are you a project manager? Try product management or program management. Maybe you’re ready to make a huge shift sideways. You could go from your role in your current vertical to the same role in a completely different industry. What would a move from technology into public service do for you?

Curriculum Vitae/Resume Difference

One difference in this lateral move business is that your resume might end up feeling scattered. It becomes important to select your moves in such a way that it appears you have a plan in mind. What does a move from project manager to QA manager tell your next employer? It might look at first blush as a retreat or a retrenching. It’s important to craft your resume to match the story of your moves.

Advertising

Open New Markets

With everyone else considering an upward move — from contributor to manager, for instance– you have an opportunity to compete differently. You can position yourself for roles that might seem lateral or otherwise off-track for your colleagues, thus leaving it more open for you. Turning yourself into a lateral thinker gives you opportunities to shop your credentials around into markets that others aren’t necessarily eying.

You are NOT Your Title

Advertising

Really a post in itself, it’s important to consider the fact that you are not simply your title. Sure, if you are a Certified Public Accountant, that gears you towards a specific profession. But for the lion’s share of technology workers, don’t let your current and past titles get in the way. Look from the perspective of what you can do as related to your skills, not for a match to a job title.

Power Up Your Skillsets

Because you are already a lifelong learner (you are, right?), taking new courses and programs to enhance your lateral move skills is a great plan, too. Are you a database administrator? Take a small business course and a finance course to try and round out your business understanding. Do you work in education? See what opportunities to expand your super powers exist when you enhance your technological understanding. Start a podcast to accompany your courses, for instance.

Advertising

This time feels somewhat unique in the way employees use corporations and the way corporations consume employees. The old way of doing things might work in some of the more Byzantine burocracies that still exist (say, certain government offices), but even there, I bet that someone moving laterally through the ranks will take the structure by surprise, and might just enable interesting future changes for you.

What are your lateral hacks?

–Chris Brogan is now on staff at Lifehack.org. He writes about self-improvement and creativity at [chrisbrogan.com], and he is starting a content network at GrasshopperFactory.com.

More by this author

7 Uses for a Virtual Machine When Emailing Think Press Release Mail, BrainDump, Mail, Do Stretch Goals Matter You Had me at Insane

Trending in Lifehack

1 The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness 2 What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero 3 13 Common Life Problems And How To Fix Them 4 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 5 How to Be Your Best Self And Get What You Want

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

Advertising

Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

Advertising

Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

Advertising

3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

Advertising

7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

Read Next