Two steps forward, one step back.

In life, people are looking to move their professional career and personal selves forward, not backward.  Greater successes, deeper knowledge, and valuable experiences make up the steps of forward movement through life.  Yet when asked to accept a position below our qualifications to align oneself for future positioning, it’s hard to keep long term benefits top of mind.  I find it to be really challenging to lower your standards on the front end of a deal, in order to reap the benefits on the back end.

Someone once said that you have to take two steps forward and one step back to achieve your goals.  Or, something along those lines…pre-american idol.


I think this idea may be an important strategy to realize and act on your professional career accordingly.  Sometimes sacrifice will make your long term experience worth while in the big picture.  In contrast, another relatively intelligent old guy also said:


"I walk slowly, but I never walk backwards."

Because of these contrasting views, I am having a bit of an internal struggle.  Recently I was offered a position that was below my qualifications, but had opportunity for exponential growth within the organization (and great perks too!).  I want to justify accepting the position because of these future opportunities.  I also realize that some of the forward movement may be momentarily put on hold.


Shout outs to:

1.  AT&T: I hate you; I wasted half my day in your store and had nothing resolved…enough said.

2.  Zycam Cold Remedy: I am begging you, please work.  I don’t wanna be sick.

3.  Thursday: for allowing Friday to follow you around.  I love it when you do that.


4 thoughts on “Two steps forward, one step back.

  1. There are certain jobs that I would take a step down for – knowing that the experience I would gain would be invaluable to where I want to be one day. That’s something I’m also considering at the moment although no job offer for me just yet. If it’s beneath my qualifications but I can continually support myself and will eventually be better positioned, why not? Especially if it’s something you’re passionate about…

  2. Oh Christy, you’re so smart. 🙂 Good luck in your endeavors as well! I’ll keep you posted in mine.

  3. Have thought about this extensively! I took a small-stipend internship after college. While I felt less than challenged and immersed in busy work I found it met one primary goal. The position gave me the network contacts I needed to establish myself in a new city. While it was a painstaking way to get the ball rolling, it served a purpose.

    Taking a position you are overqualified for should be a last resort and committed to short term. Specific goals and takeaway from such experiences should be transparent and understood by managers. In my case, “I want to establish myself in Chicago,” was the sentiment my mangers understood. They appreciated my professionalism and that I had a real desire to be a part of their city. To follow they were helpful in connecting me.

    Framing this correctly is important. If your end goal, especially in this economy, is pay the bills till something better comes along, frame your desire for the position as a true appreciation for the work you do, that you have a sort of insatiable passion to be engaging this work, and that you rather be working than waiting for an opportunity to present itself. Getting the position is the primary goal here. If you can impress them with your work later they will notice that you are overqualified and support future career endeavors.

    The internship was a loosing bet in the monetary gains department, the purpose of the organization offered some intrinsic value, yes, but having a willingness to take a sacrificial step back for potential forward movement was appreciated by managers and proved effective.

    Cautionary note. Do be careful. Taking work that you are under compensated for can become habitual, and eventually lower your employer’s and future employer’s expectations of how you should be compensated.

  4. I can tell you that starting my own business was about the scariest 50 steps back I’ve ever taken, in hopes of moving 100 steps forward in 5 years. Yes, 5 years is when I actually expect to come out ahead of where I would have been had I continued down the same path 2 years ago. I went without a paycheck for a year and have just now been able to start paying myself. However, as we discussed, things are moving at lightning speed now and I expect to turn a profit this year. I still won’t be where I would’ve been had I even accepted another position, even in a different industry, but I can confidently say that A) I LOVE what I do and couldn’t be happier doing anything else and B) I will be able to reap the financial reward down the road, and C) taking a step (or 50) backwards poses you with a greater personal challenge towards higher achievement. Would you rather be offered $100K to start and be launched into high corporate expectations, or be challenged with the task of proving yourself over and over resulting in rewards based on hard work and proven performance? Anyway, those are my 2 cents… if it’s a position, industry, and company that you can see yourself being passionate about for the next 5 years, take the plunge. The reward will come…

    (I could go into the fact that I started at SCC with a base of $28K not so long ago and was able to go that year without pay due to relatively short but aggressive success, resulting from passion, dedication, and good ol’ hard work- never lose sight of the ball… you might just hit a home run)

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