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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Last Updated on September 15, 2020

7 Helpful Reminders When You Want to Make Big Life Changes

7 Helpful Reminders When You Want to Make Big Life Changes

Overcoming fear and making life changes is hard. It’s even harder when it’s a big change—breaking up with someone you love, leaving your old job, starting your own business, or hundreds of other difficult choices.

Even if it’s obvious that making a big change will be beneficial, it can be tough. Our mind wants to stay where it’s comfortable, which means doing the same things we’ve always done[1].

We worry: how do we know if we’re making the right decision? We wish we knew more. How do we make a decision without all of the necessary information?

We feel stuck. How do we get past fear and move forward with that thing we want to do?

Well, I certainly don’t have all the answers, but here are 7 things to remember when you want to move forward and make positive life changes.

1. You’ll Never Have All the Information

We often avoid making important decisions because we want more information before we make a tough call.

Yes, it’s certainly true that you need to do your research, but if you’re waiting for the crystal clear answer to come to you, then you’re going to be waiting a long time. As humans, we are curious creatures, and our need for information can be paralyzing.

Life is a series of guesses, mistakes, and revisions. Make the best decision you can at the time and continue to move forward. This also means learning to listen to and trust your intuition. Here’s how.

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2. Have the Courage to Trust Yourself

We make all sorts of excuses for not making important life changes, but the limiting belief that often underlies many of them is that we don’t trust ourselves to do the right thing.

We think that if we get into a new situation, we won’t know what to do or how to react. We’re worried that the uncharted territory of the future will be too much for us to handle.

Give yourself more credit than that.

You’ve dealt with unexpected changes before, right? And when your car got a flat tire on the way to work, how did that end up? Or when you were unexpectedly dumped?

In the end, you were fine.

Humans are amazingly adaptable, and your whole life has been helping you develop skills to face unexpected challenges.

Have enough courage to trust yourself. No matter what happens, you’ll figure out a way to make it work.

3. What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

Like jealousy, most of your fears are created in your own head.

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When you actually sit down and think about the worst case scenario, you’ll realize that there are actually very few risks that you can’t recover from.

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Once you realize the worst isn’t that bad, you’ll be ready to crush it.

When you’re preparing to make a big life change, write down all of the things you’re afraid of. Are you afraid of failing? Of looking silly? Of losing money? Of being unhappy?

Then, address each fear by writing down ways you can overcome them. For example, if you’re afraid of losing money, can you take a few months to save up a safety net?

4. It’s Just as Much About the Process as It Is About the Result

We’re so wrapped up in results when we think about major life changes. We worry that if we start out towards a big goal, then we might not make it to the finish line.

However, you’re allowed to change your mind. And failing will only help you learn what not to do next time.

Furthermore, just because you don’t reach the final goal doesn’t mean you failed. You chose the goal in the first place, but you’re allowed to alter it if you find that the goal isn’t working out the way you hoped. Failure is not a destination, and neither is success.

Enjoy the process of moving forward[2].

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5. Continue to Pursue Opportunity

If you’re on the fence about a big decision, then you might be worried about getting locked into a position that you can’t escape from.

Think about it a different way. New choices rarely limit your options.

In fact, new pursuits often open up even more opportunities. One of the best things about going after important goals with passion is that they open up chances and options that you never could have expected in the beginning.

If you pursue the interesting opportunities that arise along the path to your goal, then you can be sure that you’ll always have choices.

6. Effort Matters, So Use It

It sounds simple, but one of the big reasons we don’t make life changes is because we don’t try. And we don’t try because then it’s easy to make excuses for why we don’t get what we want.

Flunked that test? Are you stupid? “Of course I’m not stupid. I just didn’t study. I would have gotten an A if I actually studied.”

Stuck in a job you hate? Why haven’t you found a new job yet? “Well, I haven’t really tried to get a new job. I could totally ace that interview if I wanted.”

Why do we make excuses like these to ourselves? It’s because if we try and fail, then we just failed. But if we don’t try, we can chalk it up to laziness.

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Get over it. Failure happens to everyone.

And the funny thing is, if you actually try—because it’s pretty clear that most people aren’t trying—then you’ll win a lot more than you think.

7. Start With Something Manageable

You can’t climb Everest if you don’t try hiking beforehand.

Maybe applying for your dream job seems intimidating right now. What can you start with today?

Can you talk to someone who already has that position and see what they think makes them successful? Can you improve your skills so you meet one of the qualifications? Can you take a free online course to expand your resume?

Maybe you’re not quite ready for a long-term relationship, but you know you want to start dating. Could you try asking out a mutual friend? Can you go out more with friends to practice your communication skills and meet new people?

You don’t need to be a world changer today; you just need to make small life changes in your own world.

More Tips to Help You Make Life Changes

Featured photo credit: Victor Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

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