Walk, Don't Run, To Career Success

Last year was not a good year for my personal health. I just wasn't getting around to working out, and then in the Spring I ripped my calf muscle and found myself wobbling around the house for a week. At the end of the week I ripped it again, much worse, and found myself laying around the house for six weeks, wondering if people with ripped calf muscles ever walk again (it was so very painful).

I took the rest of the year in stride (no pun intended) and didn't do much, physically. But this year I got the hair-brained idea to set a SMART goal. The S stands for Specific and the M stands for Measurable, so I pulled a random number out of the air and figured I'd walk (not jog) 500 miles this year. I think I can do it, as long as I don't have a ripped calf muscle again.

This week I hit the 30 mile mark. I'm pretty excited because I'm pretty sure that is 29.4 miles more than I walked all last year.

As I've been walking around my neighborhood I've drawn some parallels between walking and career management:

When I walk three miles I sometimes think I could either finish 15 minutes earlier if I just jogged, or I could slip in another mile or two in the same amount of time. Maybe I'll be ready for that later this year, but I know that even going slow is better than nothing at all. Many times career management activities feel slow, but it's better to go slow than to not do anything at all.

Walking won't produce super-fast results.

But the results are long-lasting, perhaps with less injuries. A more comprehensive workout with weights, aerobics, cycling, swimming and a proper diet will help you get more noticeable results faster, but solely walking is still a terrific workout, and results other than just weight loss will sneak up on you. Same thing with career management. You might not see any results for a while, but they will come, and they will be long-lasting. I've recently started seeing some major benefits from my networking efforts, and I've been seriously networking for almost four years!

Consistency is key.

I have a few loops mapped out in my neighborhood for different distances. Whether I walk the 4 mile loop or the 1.5 mile loop, I know I need to walk almost every day. Regular workouts will keep me moving towards my goal and ensure I'm not stuck trying to make a bunch of miles up at the end of the year. Can you imagine if I had to do 400 miles on December 31st, just to hit my goal? Same thing with career management - waiting until the day you get your layoff notice to start doing career management stuff puts you in an impossible situation

Breaks are important.

I don't walk every day because my muscles need time to regroup and rebuild. Same thing with my career efforts. Take networking, for example. You can network every day of the week, but eventually you'll need a day to get all of your contact records organized and updated. I wouldn't recommend prolonged breaks, but something to help you regroup, rebuild and ensure you are doing the right stuff will help you stay on track.

It all adds up.

Slow pace. Slow results. But by the end of the year the miles will have added up - even a mile here or a mile there will contribute to my overall goal by the end of the year. Doing a mile a day is more important than doing 10 or 20 miles only once or twice.

I don't have anything against running, but my body isn't ready to run yet. Maybe when I run I'll write about jogging, sprinting, marathons, etc. But for now it is slow and steady, and it is all about getting to my distance goal. Same thing with my career management. Consistently moving forward, helping me get to my career goal, is what it's all about (as opposed to cramming and panicking when I am in dire straits).

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