How Marathon Running Can Change Your Career Mindset
The correlation between career decisions and long distance running.
When I think back to my last year at university, I feared anyone asking me: “What do you want to do once you leave?”. As an economist at Bristol University, there were a lot of very driven individuals with a clear vision of working in the finance sector in the future. Many of them had already done summer internships for huge corporations. I never did one of these because whenever I sat down to complete an application, the first question would be “Why do you want to work here?” and my gut would simply tell me…you don’t.
The closer I got to graduating, the more everyone would talk about their future jobs. Generally, at this time, everyone was in the library together revising for their finals. This would create a cauldron of people with and without jobs discussing their future. If you are one of these people without, it can be pretty stressful on top of the exams you are about to take!
If you are reading this and are in this situation, do not panic! Not everyone is the same, and not everyone should be on a graduate scheme. It is completely normal to leave university without a clear direction of what you want to do or who you want to work for.
I guess from reading this, you will be thinking… how is this linked to marathon running? This year, I attempted something I had never done before…long distance running (and for me, this means over a mile). I have run before, but normally it would be after a ball, never as a casual hobby! I have always said to myself that one day I will do a marathon. I figured that as I get older, it is only going to get harder, so I agreed to sign up.
The first few weeks of training involved freezing cold January conditions, burning lungs and a complete hatred for running. I would go out 4 times a week with a set target in mind and try to chase every mile down. I would be exhausted after a few minutes and would get stressed because I felt like I couldn’t do it, and the 26 miles seemed like an even bigger hurdle than before.
I quickly learned was that it wasn’t about chasing down every mile with an unrealistic time in mind. This is a shortcut to giving up on the run and packing it in all together. I found that sticking with the pace I was happy at and keeping my positive thoughts while listening to an audiobook or music, I would maintain a rhythm and the miles would come to me.
Once I changed to this mindset, I quickly started increasing my miles and time. I started to enjoy it and found that I would have time to think about things like work, family, friends and even this blog post. I completed the London Marathon this year with my Dad in 4 hrs 30 mins and really enjoyed the experience.
I have come to understand that when leaving uni, lots of people chase jobs in a panic. They jump at the first thing that comes to them even if it doesn’t necessarily feel right, just like running after each mile. My advice for people leaving university, or even changing jobs or industries would be to not panic. Do not chase after everything that comes across your desk. Do not worry if all your friends have a clear idea of what they want to do or if they have a job sorted. Understand what you believe in and what you are good at. It will take time, patience and determination, however, you will be a lot better set for the long run having made a wise decision initially.
I was one of these students that knew I wanted to do something but I could never figure out what. If I am honest, I jumped at my first job role at a startup. Looking back it was probably a mistake, although I do not regret it as I learned so much whilst I was there. I am now 3 years into my career. I have been working for the last 2 years at a design and innovation agency. I love the design industry and am very happy where I work. I have a clear sense of where I want to go and why I am doing it.
Keep your head determined on what you believe in and keep going… let the miles come to you, trust me, they will!