Your career is a marathon, not a sprint – What can we learn from athletes?
When it comes to our careers we can all make the same mistakes. We dive straight in, over-work ourselves and eventually burn ourselves out.
For most of us, our careers are for a lifetime, so it’s important for us to remember our careers are a marathon, not a sprint.
To help put this idea into action we could all take a leaf out of athletes books and start using some of their tools to manage our workloads and our careers.
Here are five tips from athletes that can help manage your career:
1. Set goals and tasks
This is the first thing all athletes do. What do they want to achieve? What is it that they are working towards? Where do they see themselves in five years? By asking themselves these questions they can then set themselves tasks to help them reach those goals.
This is something we can all do to help manage our careers. These can help us figure out exactly where we want to be in five years time and what we need to do to get there. Your long term goal might be to get a promotion and move higher up in your company or to get a pay rise, but what exactly do you have to do to reach that goal?
Sitting down and planning out these goals and tasks can help steadily move your career along.
2. Master your time
Endurance athletes plan their schedules down to the minute. What time they will train, what time they will eat, what time they will recover. This strict schedule allows them to know what they have to do and where they want to be.
This idea of a strict schedule can sometimes be hard to translate to the workplace; meetings and phonecalls can pop up and they can throw your whole day off course. But implementing a schedule can be beneficial. Set time aside for tasks which can eat up your whole day and stick to the time frame. If your hour for checking emails is up, move on to your next task.
3. Maintain a steady pace
We have all heard of the story of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race. Marathon runners don’t dash away from the starting line and sprint throughout the whole race, they maintain a steady speed perhaps speeding up to overtake someone ahead or at the finish line.
Maintaining a steady pace is important in your work life. Many of us launch into projects and try to get everything done at once, this can be detrimental to both the project and ourselves. Although you can pick up the pace to reach specific short-term targets, maintaining a steady and consistent pace can help reach your goals and steadily progress your career.
4. Deal with problems head on
Endurance athletes will forecast any problems that can occur before their race in order to prepare themselves for obstacles they might have to overcome. They will put set plans in place to deal with these problems so they are not overwhelmed.
Forecasting problems and putting solutions in place is something we can also apply to our careers. Without being too pessimistic it is important to consider the things that could go wrong, your computer could crash and your work could be lost, people may not show up for an event you’re holding. Once you’ve done this, responding to setbacks can be easier and it might also help you to prevent some of the problems from happening.
5. Work/life balance
Athletes will devote themselves to their training and have to spend time away from family and friends but they always make sure to include recovery time into their schedule. They are not training on the track all day, in the evenings they recover from their training session and make sure their body is in the right condition for the next day.
While it’s not necessary for you to plunge yourself into an ice bath after work, it is necessary to take time away from work to relax and recharge. Balancing the two equally important aspects, life and work, allows your batteries to be fully recharged. It is this recharge which allows you to sustain the marathon journey that is your career.