Last January, I decided that I wanted to walk a half-marathon. Walk, not run a half-marathon, mind you. I wanted a physical challenge that would require me to build some good habits, and I knew myself well enough that a full marathon was completely outside of the realm of possibility given from where I was starting.
So, master procrastinator that I am, I completely put it off until the summer.
There was something about the idea of walking 21.1 km straight without a break that seemed completely overwhelming. But I was determined. And completely clueless.
First, I needed a race. I googled until I found a race that welcomed walkers and gave them a reasonable amount of time in which to complete the walk. And I registered, but not after cajoling my mother and sister to register with me.
For 18 weeks, I followed a training plan religiously. This exact training plan, in fact. I say 18 weeks, because even though the plan was spread out over 14 weeks, I needed an extra month to build up my endurance and toughen up my feet. Blisters plagued me every. single. step of the way. But I was determined.
And so much more driven because I had my family training with me, there was no way in hell I was going to let them down (or embarrass myself in the process).
Race day came, and all of the preparation paid off. I walked the full race with my niece and I enjoyed every minute of it. This year I’m planning to walk a full marathon.
If you’re like me, then January always feels like a fresh beginning. Resolutions abound and I’m my best self at the start of each year.
But change, real change, isn’t easy. Habits and routines are hard to break, even if that habit is making you unhappy. Especially if it makes you unhappy; who has the effort to find a new job or train for a promotion when they’re miserable and drained of energy.
And so, I write this to remind you that changing your career is just like running a marathon. Whether you’re a new graduate looking for your first big job, or you want to be promoted within your company, or you want to change career paths entirely, the work it takes to get there looks the same.
SET A GOAL AND THEN MAKE A PLAN.
Break the journey down into small manageable tasks that you can tick off one-by-one. Walking 13.2 miles tomorrow? Painful. Going for a 2-mile walk after work? Totally doable. Instead of thinking about how overwhelming it can be to find a new job, write out a list of all of your recent accomplishments so you can update your resume.
And that goal? Make it big and a little bit scary. You’re so much more capable than you know.
BUILD A SUPPORT SYSTEM.
Tell people about your plans. We all need someone in a corner. Share your goals with people you trust to have your back. Not only will they support you and cheer you on, but saving face in front of them can be a powerful motivator.
DO THE WORK.
Little steps add up. If you consistently take one step after another, no matter how small, you will reach your destination. A plan, no matter how well thought out, is useless if you’re not taking action.
Set aside time in your calendar each day to accomplish your tasks: make yourself your top priority.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF.
Don’t beat yourself up if there’s a roadblock or delay. Take a moment each day to appreciate just how far you’ve come. Practice gratitude for all the gifts you already have.
Give yourself a gold star for stepping outside of your comfort zone and having your own back (do you know how rare that is?).
CELEBRATE AND REFLECT ON YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS.
You crushed it. You can do anything. Now set an even bigger, scarier goal. This is your year.
P.S. Should a race be on your bucket list, I highly recommend the Seattle Marathon Race Weekend every November. Seattle is an incredible city to walk through, and this race attracts awesome people.