Your Career is Like a Marathon: 5 Tips to Finish Strong

runningToday is an exciting day – The Boston Marathon is taking place, sparking emotion in runners and spectators alike. Viewed as the Cadillac of marathons by many, being able to finish the Boston Marathon is no small feat. Sufficiently preparing to conquer 26.2 miles of running… with a mix of walking here and there for some 🙂 … requires months of training, perseverance, vision, and the ability to bounce back from the occasional setback.

Well – the same holds true for building a long-term and rewarding career. Just as doing a series of sprint races will not fully prepare you for a marathon, randomly jumping from job-to-job may impede your ability for long-term career success. Instead, try to “stay the course” and you will likely be in a much better position to achieve your goals.

Below are five traits of a successful marathoner, if applied to your own career, will help you finish strong.

1. Perseverance and Commitment – Training for and running a marathon requires not only physical strength, but intellectual strength that includes thinking and planning. The ability to develop and execute a training plan, set an appropriate pace, and concentrate for hours on one task all contribute to marathon success. The same goes for your career path. Define what your “plan” will be and commit to it.

2. Tenacity – One of the biggest marathon challenges is adjusting to changing conditions. This not only includes inclement weather, but also injuries and schedule issues. Similarly, you will likely encounter unforeseen obstacles throughout your career: a management change, office politics, competition, difficult projects, and more. A positive attitude and ability to adapt to different scenarios will enable you to overcome these obstacles and enjoy long-term success.

3. Confidence – As with anything in life, the more confidence you have, the better. A marathoner with the confidence to finish the race is in a much better position than one who is constantly worried about failure. The same goes for someone pursuing their dream career. Have faith in your capabilities. Trust in yourself and know that you have what it takes to succeed when you put your mind to it.

4. Remain Present and Focused – Being in the moment can have a significantly positive impact on all we do in life. For a marathoner, being present not only keeps them focused on tackling the road ahead, but it also enables them to truly “take in” the joys of running. From a career perspective, those that are present and focused are often more creative, effective, and enthusiastic about their job, which leads to success and inspiration to conquer future projects.

5. Visualize Success – We’ve all heard of the “self-fulfilling prophecy”. This concept can have a considerable impact on a runner’s marathon experience and ultimate outcome. Marathoners who can literally visualize crossing the finish line strong are much more likely to do just that than those envisioning all that can go wrong. As you move along your career path, make a point of visualizing what you want to be doing – and where you want to be doing it – five, 10 and 20-years out. “Seeing” yourself succeed in the future will help get you to where you want to be today.

As you can see, a career is truly like a marathon. With focus, vision and strength to overcome challenges, combined with passion to meet your goals, your dream job is as attainable as that finish line is to some of the best marathoners out there. Good luck to you as you pursue your career…and good luck to all of those participating in the Boston Marathon this Patriots Day!