Monday, April 30, 2012

Your Career is a Marathon

I just finished my 13th marathon yesterday.  While I was running those 26.2 miles, I was thinking about how my career has been like a marathon.  Here are my thoughts:
  • Marathons require discipline and training.  So does your career.  If you have a goal, you need to plan for it and stay focused on the road ahead. 
  • A coach can be a critical part of marathon success.  My marathon coach helps provide a framework for my training, an objective sounding board and is great at pushing me beyond my comfort zone.  A career coach or mentor can help you reach your goals and take on new opportunities.
  • There are many mental highs and lows during the course of a marathon.  I've learned to expect them and am mentally prepared to deal with them during a race.  A career has the same ups and downs.  Some you can control, some you can't.  Expect them.  Embrace them.  Learn from them.  You'll be stronger for it.
  • Run your own race.  In a marathon, the only thing you can control is how you run.  You can't control other runners, the weather or the course.  Focus on what you're trying to accomplish, not what others are doing.  This is important in your career too.  Your path is yours alone.  No one else will travel the same road as you.
  • Break the course into small milestones.  26.2 miles is a long way.  I break up the course into 3-5 mile increments and focus on one step at a time.  In your career, the long term goals are important, but you will only get there by crossing milestones along the way.  What can you focus on for the next 6-12 months that will move you toward your goal? 
  • Be flexible.  Distance running requires a long training period.  I can plan my race strategy all I want in advance, but if the weather changes, I have a nagging injury or just aren't feeling great, I have to be flexible and adapt.  The same happens in your career.  You can't preplan your entire career.  Be open to the new opportunities and change. 
  • Don't forget to fuel yourself.  In a race, hydration and fueling are critical to a successful race.  In your career, it's important to remember to "fuel" yourself too.  Take care of yourself, revisit your priorities and make sure you're doing what energizes you.  This will create the passion you need to be successful.
  • And finally, enjoy the journey. I can put my head down and watch the road or choose to view the scenery, talk to other runners and enjoy the experience along the way.  Don't forget to build relationships, find fun in your day and enjoy the learning process of your career.  There is no finish line in a career so find ways to enjoy each day.

I hope you each experience your own Career PR!

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