Want Your Career to Improve? Start Running
I’ve always ran. A mile here. A mile there. But the majority of my running remained for sports. I never took it very seriously, until this last year, the first year of my career.
When I started running, it wasn’t an activity I looked forward to. It was something to endure and finish. Slowly as I’ve progressed, running has become something I’m excited about.
As I’ve grown in stamina and miles accumulated, I’ve realized something. This difficult activity is aiding the rest of my life, especially my work. Since I see other runners putting in their miles on a daily basis, I imagine that I am not alone.
Your Career Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Unless you’re racing towards retirement, for the majority of us, our careers are a marathon. They’re going to be long distance accomplishments. Depending on your specific field, you may want to continue with your work as long as you’re alive.
Preparing for a marathon takes a lot of work. Preparation requires ample training and practice at distance running, the same way career goals, tasks, and projects are often long-term. Completing a long-term goal might mean hashing out small details that themselves take a year or so to polish.
I’m not a marathon runner — yet at least — but the analogy translates well. Having a conception of sticking with something for the long-haul is important when you start working. Having a physical concept for that idea is even more empowering.
If you begin your career by looking at the marathon you want to finish, it’ll be easier to make it through the training, or mile 13 when you’re winded and want to throw in the towel. You’ll remember these moments are simply part of training. They are simply part of the process.
Improvement and Work Require Self-Discipline
To advance at any career, improvement and work requires discipline. It’s a matter of doing the work, or not doing the work — as is your option on a run. You can either keep moving your legs forward, or you can stop and quit.
On a run there isn’t a coach. There isn’t a boss. If you’re running outside, there isn’t even a treadmill to force you to keep a certain pace. Running is all up to you and your will power. You have to have the discipline to finish.
When it comes to work, do you have the discipline to push through problems? To learn outside of the office? To pick-up skill sets that make you more marketable? Are you disciplined enough to attempt mastering your craft?
Running is Practical
Anyone with a pair of running shoes can run. There’s no expensive membership or required accessories.
Shoes. Legs. Run.
Body-weight exercises are the most cost-saving, which some might see as efficient. Excelling in a career means being efficient. Being practical. You must know which tasks, projects, or goals are your priority, and which can be scrapped. Then, you’ll have to build the practical endurance to stick to the path.
Practice itself is practical. You need it. Running is a reminder that you’re doing something difficult for a larger purpose, whether that be marathon training or personal health.
Working at your craft everyday should be practice for a larger purpose.
You’ll Build Mental Toughness
There’s no greater achievement in life or work than being able to continue when something gets difficult and seeing the results of that perseverance. Some runs are more difficult than others, and some days you just don’t have the energy. The strength you’ll feel in being able to overcome these mental hurdles on a trail will pay dividends in your work and life.
Mental toughness will help you deal with failures, mistakes, difficult situations at work, or general career frustrations. If you can push through the mental hurdle when you wanted to stop your legs on the run, why can’t you overcome a work related issue?
You just need the context.
Gain Confidence, Perseverance, and Faith
Anyone who’s maneuvered through their career knows there’s flashes of insecurity. There’s moments where you question your work, whether it’s good enough, or wonder how you’ll develop the skills to move forward. Gaining confidence comes from continual practice, even when you don’t see results.
Added confidence will help you persevere and trust that adversity is worth pushing past, because once you’ve persevered once, you know the process can be replicated. This creates true confidence, the type based off of merit and what you’ve done, not a delusional concept of what you “think” you’re capable of without any proof.
It may take faith to persevere.
On a run, you have to have faith that not only will you finish, but the run will help you, and you’ll be able to get through the next run.
And the next run.
And then the run after that.
Just as you’ll get through this challenge, this project, and the following after these.
So just keep moving.
Keep on running.