In Defense Of Resting On Your Laurels
I’ve written in the past about doing a periodic audit of your career: Do you have anything to add [to your resume] from the last six months? If not, this could be a sign of stagnation.
There is definitely something to be said about continually learning and growing.
Stagnation in your skills and network can make you dispensable and vulnerable to being restructured out of a job. But this doesn’t mean that your day-to-day work needs to stressful and jam-packed with extra responsibility and every networking meeting you can land.
There are perfectly good reasons why you might want to coast in your job for a few months if the opportunity arises:
You want to attend to other things. I’m a parent of school-age kids, so if possible I know not to plan big work projects in September. That initial back-to-school period is busy enough without unnecessarily adding to my burden;
You need to refresh your creative juices. There’s a reason we think of good ideas in the shower, or finally remember that song title when we’ve moved on to thinking about something else. Stepping away gives you a chance to come back with fresh eyes. This doesn’t have to mean physically stepping away and taking a vacation. It can also mean mentally focusing your energy on other things – a hobby, a sport, finally getting to that list of movies on your Netflix queue. To have energy for these other things, you can’t be too stretched at work;
You want to stop and smell the roses.
Life doesn’t have to be a struggle to be meaningful.
If you’re getting your work done and happen to be working a mild schedule, that’s a good thing. There will be enough crunch times in the future when you have to work exhaustive hours – don’t feel like you need to invent reasons to overwork now.
That said, you want resting on your laurels to be about rest and not a new way of working. You do want to take on stretch projects, add responsibilities, and demonstrate an upward career progression. Updating your resume every six months will ensure that you do not get complacent, as you remind yourself that you are building a career over time. But absolutely there is a time to build and a time to rest. Your ability to manage these periods will enable you to advance without burnout.
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Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career expert, writer, speaker and co-founder of SixFigureStart® (www.sixfigurestart.com), a career coaching firm comprised of former Fortune 500 recruiters. Caroline is a co-author (along with Donald Trump, Jack Canfield and other leading business authors) of "How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times" from Two Harbors Press, 2010. Formerly in corporate HR and retained search, Caroline has recruited for leading companies in media, financial services, consulting, technology and healthcare.
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