Are You Aware of the Dynamics of Inertia and Persistence in Your Career?

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Inertia and Persistence. Inertia inhibits us from moving forward in our career. Persistence is what we need to keep us moving forward in our career.


“I am a baby boomer! I was raised to be an employee to go to work for an employer who would take care of me.”

We were also raised to be loyal to our employer no matter what.

Therefore, we created a lot of inertia in our careers. Once we started something, we stayed and stayed and stayed. . .well until we got laid off or something happened to wake us up. For me (author Marc Miller), that was in 2002 with a near fatal bicycle accident. That accident set in motion a series of actions that has led me to where I am today.

Until then, inertia had me stuck.

In today’s workplace, inertia is a dangerous thing. The world is changing fast, and you need to keep moving forward with your career.


I have been interviewing entrepreneurs, and one key word keeps coming up – persistence. The definition I like the best is “persisting, especially in spite of opposition, obstacles, discouragement, etc.; persevering.” The opposite of inertia.

I have helped multiple clients write their brand stories over the last year. In listening to them tell me their stories, I found a common theme. They have been laid off multiple times over the last dozen years. All have gotten back on their feet and moved forward in their careers. They showed persistence in spades.

Before that first layoff, inertia kept them from preparing for the next career pivot. However, once they were shoved forward, and often off a figurative career cliff, they did not stop until they landed. Unfortunately, inertia would set in again – until that next shove.

See the Pattern:

  • We get comfortable, and inertia sets in.
  • We get shoved into action.
  • Our persistence kicks into gear.
  • We land, and inertia returns.

I have seen this over and over again. I have done this in my life. I bet you have, too.

How Can We Stay Persistent and Not Let Inertia Settle In?

  • Take breaks. Yes, take a vacation. Take a day off before you become exhausted.
  • Celebrate success. Stop, sit and digest the good feelings when you have a success.
  • Analyze failures, but return to the feelings of success. When failures occur, which they will, you have the option to go back to that time of success. Recapture those feelings.
  • Always look forward.
  • Be ever vigilant.

Persistence will keep your career moving forward.

Snail Photo via Shutterstock

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Personal Branding Blog The Personal Branding Blog is part of the Small Business Trends Publisher Channel, offering branding and career advice from Dan Schawbel and his team of experts. The blog helps professionals build a powerful brand to remain competitive in the job market.

3 Reactions
  1. I find I tend to focus on my challenges/obstacles more than how far I’ve come.

    And then there’s the little things that happen, that I don’t really pay attention to, because I’m focused on what’s not happening.

    How far I’ve come, even if it’s not at the pace I hoped, is a success.

    The little things are their own successes.

    I should be mindful of all of that, and grateful.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I guess it is okay to be on guard. But it is not really something that you can control. After all, you cannot be on persistence mode all the time (That’s stressful and dangerous to your health). You also need to be in inertia and be contented from time to time. After all, there’s no competition. There’s only passion and the people touched by it.

    • I really like the last bit you mentioned, Aira: “There’s only passion and the people touched by it.” It’s something I need to remember. Thanks.

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