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Is it Time to Strategically Coast at Work?

Is it Time to Strategically Coast at Work?

Is it time to strategically coast at work?

It seems like today we’re constantly flooded with articles, podcasts, books, and more with information and suggestions on how to lean in more at work, or get that next promotion or raise.

Even when we’re not actively seeking new responsibilities, we’re still getting messages about how to achieve more by doing less, or the best way to optimize our schedules. If career growth is important to you, it can seem like there might be something wrong with you if you’re not constantly thinking about moving up or setting new goals.

[Related: Why It Might be Time to "Lean Out"]

Is it realistic (or even healthy?) to constantly be driving toward the next developmental goal or promotion at work? It’s time we make room for another acceptable approach that’s sometimes needed at work: strategic coasting.

Strategic coasting is when you deliberately and thoughtfully take the energy you might usually put into going above and beyond at work, and redirect it toward something else. It’s when you do your work (and do it well), while being strategic about where your extra energy and time goes.

Strategically coasting at work might make sense if you’ve got a lot of personal things going on at the moment. Maybe you’ve just become a new parent and those responsibilities are more pressing. Maybe you’re caring for a sick family member or are working through an illness of your own. Or maybe you’re training for a big race, and that’s where you want to focus your efforts for a few months.

It might make sense if you’re working on a career pivot. Making a career change can be a lot of work – all those informational conversations and applications can take loads of time and energy!

There are phases and chapters we all go through in our lives and careers. Many people treat their careers like a sprint, and quickly burn out in the most demanding fields. We need to treat our careers like the marathons that they are. And sometimes it may make sense sense to stop for a water break, or walk for a few miles.

[Related: Five Ways to Manage Burnout in a Digital Career]

Strategic coasting makes sense for you if you find it’s time to take your foot off the work gas pedal for any variety of reasons. So, how do you strategically coast at work?

First of all, it doesn’t mean you’re clocking in late and leaving early. And it doesn’t mean you’re not completing your work, or being a great team player.

But it might mean you’re not taking initiative on a new project. Or that you’re actually taking your hour-long lunch break if you get one. You might leave the office or sign off for the day on the earlier side, assuming your most important work is done, so you can go focus on other things you’re prioritizing.

But strategic coasting isn’t something you want to do indefinitely. Theoretically, there’s a specific time period you’re planning on coasting.

But let’s all give ourselves permission to strategically coast at work when we need to. In the long run, it may actually help us achieve new levels of success personally and professionally.

[Related: Why You Should Work As Though Your Kids Are Watching]


Emily Lamia has been helping people grow and develop in their careers for over a decade. In 2015, she founded Pivot Journeys to create experiences to help individuals navigate their next career move and find meaningful work.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.


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