You don’t have to be a runner to learn lessons from the sport. Learn how to plan, pace and push yourself professionally.
1) Be prepared
Prior to a race, you want to find out what you can about the course. Is it flat or hilly? For a job, you want to find out what you can about the company. Check out their web page and social media presence. Have they been in the news? If it’s a public company, do some research to see how the business is doing. Don’t forget LinkedIn to see if you know anyone who works there.
2) Do not deviate from your normal routine
In running, experts caution against eating a different breakfast, breaking in new shoes or wearing a new t-shirt the day of the race. Similar advice holds true for your professional life, especially when you first start a job. You were hired for a particular position because you showcased your skills and personality in a way that matched that company culture. Acting or dressing differently than you presented yourself during the interview process could cause problems in fitting in.
3) Reserve your energy
New runners tend to start out too fast. Huge mistake! No one wants to be that runner who ends up walking after the first quarter mile. In your career, you want to show enthusiasm and dedication, but not at the expense of your colleagues. Pace yourself. You don’t have to take on every project. If you spread yourself too thin, you’ll be too tired and worn out to give the tasks at hand the attention they deserve.
4) It’s a marathon, not a sprint
Ok, it may be just a 5k, but remember – it takes time to get those miles in. Just like in your career, you’re in it for the long haul. It’s doubtful you’re going to beat any records in your first race. You have to see what the experience is like, how you can improve and what you need to change before the next one. The same holds true in your job. Start out strong, but don’t get ahead of yourself. You need to experience the culture, personalities and workload to really see how you fit in and can thrive.
5) Set Goals, Reevaluate & Improve
After people run their first race, they often get bit by the running “bug” and sign up for their second one. However, running faster is not a given. It takes a plan, practice and commitment. The same path holds true in the working world. Is there a mentor you can talk to during the course of your career? Seeking out advice from long time employees, your boss and other experienced colleagues can help with your own goal setting and improvement. Where do you want to be in 5 years? Write those goals down and start working towards them.
6) Continue Learning
There will always be new races to run, different distances to try and new workouts to experience. New running enthusiasts often seek advice from more experienced runners. They subscribe to running publications, join running groups and associate with other runners. In the work world, you should join associations, attend industry specific events and keep current on news relevant to your occupation. This will keep you competitive and help to alleviate burnout and boredom down the line.
7) Break Through Your Comfort Zone
Runners who want to improve have to push themselves. They may not want to run intervals or run in inclement weather conditions, but they do, knowing they will get better. No one can guarantee what race day will be like, just like no one can guarantee exactly how your career path will progress. However, you can control your choices to some extent, especially when it comes to personal development. Take on challenges that make you uncomfortable at first. Not a public speaker? Practice so you can present that speech anyway! Wary of learning an unfamiliar software? Make a concerted effort and set up a schedule to do so. Rewards involve risk. Take a chance – the important thing is to at least try and put yourself out there.
8) Don’t Get Discouraged
The truth is – not every run is going to be a good one. Not every work day is going to be your best day ever. New runners are often told to remember: “No matter how slow you’re going, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.” The same philosophy holds true for your work life. Acknowledge that growing your career takes time. Your pace and progress is just that – yours. Stop comparing yourself to other people, continue to work towards your goals and enjoy the journey along the way!
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© OldcastleCareers 2014