3 Parallel Pursuit Choices to Maintain Your Agile Career

What keeps a project moving forward and on track?

Two things are needed: smart scheduling and real-time peripheral vision. You’ve got to accomplish tasks side-by-side (in parallel), while distinguishing what must be done in sequential order.

This is project management 101, and it’s actually a pretty radical mindset.

Concurrent scheduling and production techniques revolutionized the assembly lines of the manufacturing industry, from cars to every form of electronics. Complex long-term software development schedules were shortened and became more efficient.

Building a Career From Parallel Pursuits

Simon Sinek, known for one of the most popular TED Talks, and a best-selling author  of a  book Start with Why, once said

“the best place to invent the future is away from our desk.”

parallel-pursuit-escalators-in-train-station-indicating-parallel-career-actvitiesThe segments of time away from our workplace production pod are brimming with possibility. These time modules (after, during, and before work) can support our current job to-do list, yet can also be used to seek creative, personal, and professional development.

Today, the idea of parallel pursuits is a core principle of the Agile Careerist, and it can transform the way we manage our careers from a single-minded mission to a multiple-track method of thinking, doing, and planning.

An Agile Careerist designs and constructs the future of their careers through the pursuit of these parallel activities guided by purpose and inspired exploration. These activities fall into three categories:

1. Education

An essential strategy of an agile mind is incremental accumulation of knowledge – it’s used as a tactical weapon against vanishing skill set usefulness.

As in a busy galaxy, learning opportunities surround us and continue to explode with inventive instruction schemes. You may decide to pursue formal school studies. This can be costly unless your employer is funding the program.

Or, you may consider online training such as LinkedIn Learning,  Skillshare, Coursera, Udacity, General Assembly, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and Udemy. While degrees and personalized interaction may be not be available without cost, many major universities offer free coursework, a smart way to increase your value without paying up.

In our skills-based economy, employers are much more interested in what you can do, rather than theoretical learning without practical application. Newsflash! Companies want to hire someone who is already trained, rather than pay to train you.

Finally, industry conference education and experiential learning while trying something new offer opportunities to expand your knowledge.

2. Side Interests

What would you do if you won the lottery?

You are probably smiling.

Your brain is opening unlimited possibilities.

Maybe you want to dabble in a side business more captivating than your day job. Or you thought about abandoning your career to help solve global drinking water scarcity. The wanderlust urge may have beckoned you to travel the globe and refine your photography passion.

Sometimes newfound time can lead to the simpler pleasures in life, like reading more books or learning a new craft.

You likely answered this question with a greater sense of clarity regarding your priorities. Hidden in the gems of these immediate impressions are activities you might consider pursuing on the side.

Side interests come in two flavors: a hobby or a paying side gig.

Paying Side Gigs

Money on the side can lead to a cure for what ails you. Maybe your bank account requires more consistent deposits to help you live, or boredom may be a little too familiar with your restless sighs.

Some people cultivate the extra boost of confidence achieved through serving the needs of a client who sees you as an expert in your side job. A healthy ego is good for everyone.

A side gig may get you over the hump of insecurity caused by a never satisfied boss. You might realize your newly awakened skills are ready for your next big career move. Earning money on the side while you explore your capabilities, pay off your debts, or create a rainy day fund, is a future-proofing strategy for your satisfaction and happiness.

Your unique perspective via consulting services to companies outside your own industry may open up a whole new area of interest for you while helping your clients solve some vexing problems. According to Amanda Setili, a business owner and consultant who teaches organizations how to use strategic agility to solve business problems, breakthrough ideas come from outside your own industry.

Working on the side will enrich your current work skills, and can be used as a lab for testing your talent in other ares.


You approach hobbies or passions with authentic curiosity and interest. As a multidimensional being, you are more than your current line of work. A hobby may catch your eye, presenting you an ideal platform for growth and the cultivation of divergent thinking.

Here as some ideas of a potpourri of side interest options:

  • Join a non-profit board with a cause that resonates with you
  • Take a creative class like dance, theatre, or art to explore a different side of you
  • Join a club, like a book club, a running club, or extreme sports club
  • Participate in meetups with topics that interest you, not related to your profession
  • Get involved in an association within your industry or a new industry
  • Volunteer to participate as a youth sports coach
  • Sign up for industry networking events and get involved
  • If what you are looking for does not exist, start a small group of your own
  • Attend events and lectures outside of your industry
  • Sign up for a personal development online experience
  • Join a dinner club in your city

Exploring new areas of interest outside your main professional focus opens up neural pathways in brain development. Bell Beth Cooper, a curious, observant writer, explored the secrets to creativity, intelligence and scientific thinking. She concluded that individuals — think Steve Jobs—who collected ideas and then made connections with somewhat disparate areas of knowledge in the brain created new ideas and inspired innovation.

In summary, a side gig for hire compels you into action by enticing you with extra income and encourages you to explore topics and skills. The side venture as hobby expands your interests, fun factor, and accumulation of knowledge.

Through my research, I found pursuing side interests frequently has the gratifying effect of blossoming into paid side projects, or breaking fertile ground for an alternate career.

3. Role Expansion

Role expansion in career development is comparable to product and service expansion strategies in corporations. Every profession requires a fundamental level of knowledge via do-it-yourself learning, apprenticeship experience, skills training, or formal education.

professional-role-expansion-and-skills-as-parallel pursuits Once basic skills are acquired, and a desired role is attained, the incremental expansion of your role begins. You can learn on the job and volunteer for added high-profile responsibilities to help make your profession bigger. Ask yourself questions like “What area of the business interests me?” and “What specialty will make me more valuable?” as you fine-tune and tweak for best fit.

Getting into the habit of role extension expands your professional stature, while amplifying your value.

Ultimately, nimble management of parallel pursuits gives you the ability to balance uncertainty with certainty as you preserve your main occupation (and pay your monthly bills) while feeding your passion in a non-paying hobby or side interest. You can accomplish more, and discover the full possibility of the unknown when you set your career onto multiple tracks, rather than limit yourself to a single track mindset.

Now, what parallel pursuits will you explore on the path to increased knowledge, exponential fun, extra income, and an agile career? Subscribe to Marti’s 52 Ideas. For more details on career agility, check it out here.


Marti Konstant

Marti Konstant is a workplace futurist with an agile mindset. She is a career growth analyst, author, speaker, personal brand architect, and founder of the Agile Careerist Project™. What started out as a quest to fine-tune her evolving career sparked a research project, a book, and workshops, where future of work and career agility are central themes.

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