in Career

Your career isn’t a jog or a sprint
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Are you familiar with “interval training”? I’ve been doing a lot more of it lately.

Basically, instead of exercising at one pace for a long time, I work really hard for shorter amounts of time, then rest in between bursts.

I like it because it keeps me from getting bored and there’s some evidence that it’s better than traditional “cardio” for building endurance.

Here’s the workout my friends and I did yesterday:

  • Warm-up: Slow jog of 800m (half a mile)
  • Stretch: Active stretching
  • Run 3 laps (400m or a quarter mile each) at a one-mile pace with a one-minute rest after each lap
  • Run 2 laps (800m or a half mile) at a one-mile pace, rest for one minute
  • Run 3 more laps at a one-mile pace with a one-minute rest after each lap
  • Cool down: A slow jog of 800m
  • Core and hip-strength exercises to finish up

As interval workouts go, this one is pretty mild because most of our group is just starting to get in shape (myself included). But it’s still an interval workout where we work hard for a short time, then take short breaks to rest before the next interval.

In fact, the breaks between intervals aren’t just for rest—I also use them to plan for the next interval. “How hard can I push myself on this next one? How many do I have left?” I want to get the most out of each interval while saving enough energy to do all of the intervals for that workout.

Your career is an interval workout

As you move through your career, you’ll spend most of your time moving along at a regular pace, planning for your next big push.

Then you’ll do a short sprint to go after a raise or change jobs. That’s when things can get crazy.

Use the breaks to plan for the next push

It’s important to have a plan and a goal before each big push. If you’re going for a raise, what’s your goal? What do you have to do to give yourself the best chance of getting that raise? If you’re changing jobs, it’s important to invest some time in preparing for your interviews and steeling yourself for your negotiations.

“I got a raise six months ago. I want to get my next raise one year from now. How do I make sure I’m ready?” or “I think it’s time to find a new role where I’ll be challenged and valued. How do I find the best opportunity possible?”

If you see your career as an interval workout, then you’ll always either be planning your next move or pushing to get there. This strategy will help you make more progress at a faster rate so you get more opportunities and earn more income over your career.

My book Fearless Salary Negotiation will help you get paid what you’re worth at every phase of the career cycle. It’s written to be as useful two years from now as it is today. If you’re changing jobs now, Fearless Salary Negotiation will help you prepare for your job interviews and negotiate your salary without leaving anything on the table. Looking for a raise? Fearless Salary Negotiation will show you exactly how to do it.