What you can learn from a marathon runner when changing your career
8 essential tips to successfully cross the finish line
Last week I finished the Brighton Marathon. It was an unforgettable experience!
Not only because of the amazing atmosphere in Brighton, the best personal support crew ever, but also because the course was 600 meters too long ;).
After having ran 2 marathons and making a career change 6 years ago, I can say that both journeys to success have many similarities.
If you consider a change in your work life here are my 8 lessons learned:
- Start with commitment
We are always committed to something in our lives. A good way you can tell if someone is committed is by what they consistently do. Because commitment is not a desire or a promise. Like Jean Paul Sartre said: Commitment is an act, not a word. If you’re taking action, however small, you’re committed to make it happen. If you’re complaining and watching tv every night you’re probably not fully committed yet.
- Change the plan never the goal
Life happens right? Which could also mean that the initial plan to achieve your goal isn’t right anymore. That’s totally fine! Adjust your plan to the external things that happen along the way.During my training for Brighton I developed some achilles niggles. But, I knew injuries could happen when asking a lot from my body. So, I changed my training plan and didn’t do any hill sessions anymore. Instead, I did extra strength training in the gym. Changed plan, same goal!It’s the same when going through a career change. You’ll face dead ends and that’s ok. Be curious about that situation. Wisdom begins in wonder. What new information does it give you which you can use to adjust your plan?
- Create the right circumstances to perform
Training in the morning or the evening or the gear you’re wearing (trainers, socks, leggings, vest or t-shirt, camel back or running belt….). Important choices to make because they have an impact on your performance during your training period and the race itself.Creating the right circumstances is also important when going through career change. For example, your work environment impacts your productivity more than you might realize. You probably do less when you sit at the kitchen table, than when you sit at your desk. Make it a priority by also taking your high-energy moments into account. You’re going through an extraordinary change, so you need to make use of the moments when you feel at your best.
- Find a support buddy
Training together makes it a lot easier and fun than doing it all by yourself.
Without my running group I would never have finished both marathons.Make sure you don’t go through change all by yourself. Find someone who gives you the positive energy you need, who is encouraging and inspiring for you and is someone who says: “Yes, you can”. Besides that, your support buddy is also your sparring partner and can hold you accountable to the change you committed yourself to.
- Recharge on time
Managing your energy is important when going through a high intense period. Whether it’s training for a marathon or changing your career you have to restore your energy on time. It is scarcely news that inadequate nutrition, exercise, sleep and rest diminish your energy levels as well as the ability to stay focused and deal with your emotions. So, make sure you recharge on time.
- Ask for help when necessary
When you feel stuck don’t wait too long to ask for help, because you can end up in a downward spiral. When I developed achilles niggles I reached out to a great physiotherapist, who is a runner himself, and despite that I had to stop running for 10 days, his support (special exercises, tape etc.) gave me the confidence and motivation that I could still make it happen.If you feel stuck on your career change journey, reach out to an accredited career coach. With a proven framework and fun exercises she/he can support you in confidently making that successful change.
- Celebrate small wins
Changing career is a marathon, not a sprint. It can take long and the path ahead isn’t often very clear. Therefore, make sure you celebrate small wins.During the marathon I cut the course into small pieces of 5 km instead of thinking about the total distance of 42.6 km. Every 5km I rewarded myself with something. A salt tablet, a gel or a bottle of water from my support crew. And that feeling of ‘another 5km ticked off’ reinforced the positive energy that kept me going.
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
Making a change in your work life or running a marathon is not easy and can be quite painful at certain moments. And that’s all part of the journey. Growth doesn’t come from a place where it’s cosy and comfortable. So, embrace the difficulties, because they make you better and stronger.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable: ‘No pain, No champagne!’
So here you have them, my 8 lessons learned.
If you’re still doubting I hope they’ll help you to take that first step. Because getting that liberating phone call for your dream job is like crossing the finish line: you feel on top of the world.
Go for it!