Racing Ahead in Your Career? Better Learn to Drag Your Feet.

Bob Goldman on

What do you do when a new assignment comes around?

If you immediately raise your hand, you're making a big mistake. What you should do is duck your head. And if that new assignment does land in your lap, you certainly shouldn't put your nose to the grindstone and start working. What you should do is hold your nose, and start dragging your feet.

Alas, in today's dog-eat-dog, AI-eat-AI business world, being a procrastinator gets a bad rap. This is not justified. The less work you do, the fewer career-ending blunders you make. Plus, with a project you haven't finished, you're far less likely to be included in the next round of layoffs. How can you be fired? You have work to do.

Duke University professor Dorie Clark doesn't agree. In her recent Harvard Business Review article, "5 Ways to Actually Move Forward on That Task You've Been Avoiding," we learn that procrastination is "actually a subconscious strategy to avoid negative emotions," in which we "fill our time with what we recognize as comparatively trivial matters."

The fact that you are wasting your time reading this extremely trivial column shows that you have the making of a great foot-dragger. All you have to do is take each of professor Clark's five steps, and do the exact opposite.

No. 1: Get clear on the vision.


Ambiguities surrounding an assignment can result in a "freeze response," as you try to determine "what they're actually looking for." Of course, at your company, you can easily answer this question: What "they're" looking for are reasons to throw you under the bus. Though you may want to jump in and save the day, it's far better to procrastinate and save your job.

No. 2: Identify concrete steps.

If an assignment looks doable, it's probably because you don't understand what will be required to do it. To help you understand what steps are needed to finish a project, you are advised to hire a consultant. Unless you want to pay someone $500 an hour to schmooze your boss, throw shade on your abilities and steal your job, I don't agree. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, "Lie down with fleas and wake up with consultants."

No. 3: Take (small) action.


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Copyright 2023 Creators Syndicate, Inc.




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