5 Things Running Taught Me About Career Changes

Before I started running myself, I thought running for fun was crazy. I was one of those people who “jokingly” asked why you were running if nothing was chasing you. I heard about the famous “runner’s high” and rolled my eyes. I hated running during sports training and my attitude hadn’t changed… until it did. I’ll admit that I started running to lose weight and it worked… until it didn’t. So, I started running half marathon because it was a challenge. Who am I kidding? It’s STILL a challenge. I started my coaching training around the same time I started running. One of the things that I’ve noticed is that as I’ve gotten more serious about running, I’ve also gotten more serious about my business. The 2 things often collide because I usually think about my business while running. So, I’m sharing with you what I’ve learned on my many, many long runs.

1.Every challenge starts with a decision

One day I decided to run and then I started to run. It was really that simple. Sure, as I learned more, I made adjustments but all that started with the decision to start running.

A career change similarly starts with the simple decision to make the change. The process may not be simple or easy but the decision to make the change is. You can make the decision that you’re unhappy with where you are and that you want to do something else. That’s it. Everything else flows from that.

2. Every run starts with a single step

You literally can’t run if you don’t take the first step. Nothing happens unless you take that first step. Thinking about running isn’t running. Planning to run also isn’t running. Actually taking the steps is running. Running is a series of steps, not a thought process. But it all starts with that first step.

Changing careers starts with a single action step. It could be updating your resume and/or LinkedIn profile. It could be reading articles about careers that you’re interested in. It could be making a list of potential careers. The point is that you take that first action step. Emphasis on ACTION! Simply thinking about changing careers will keep you frustrated in the same career.  Complaining about your current career won’t move you toward your new career. All that does is annoy your friends and family. Know what will move you forward? Taking that first positive action step. Then take another one. Step by step, you’ll get to your new career destination

3. You gotta have friends

Runners are straight up some of the nicest people I’ve ever met! You will never find a more encouraging group. Whether it’s giving you a pep talk when you are downing yourself for not being faster or giving you the thumbs up as they pass by you on a run, I’m pretty sure that most of them haven’t met a stranger. I’ll admit that it seemed really weird to me at first. Why are all these strangers so happy and encouraging? But slowly, I came to accept it and soon I started becoming that person. Only little bit though. Don’t count on me to give random strangers hugs or share Body Glide. I’m just not there yet but the running network is strong! They’ve gotten me through many, many, MANY tough, muggy Virginia runs.

When making major life changes, you always rely on your network for support. Changing careers is no different. You’ll rely on the usual friends and family part of your network but you will need to work to expand and strengthen your network. A vast majority of jobs are gotten through connections so expanding and building yours is imperative to a successful career change. How do you do that? Tell your friends and family about your plans and ask if they know anyone who could help. Become active (or more active) on LinkedIn. Tap into your alum network. Go to traditional and online networking events. You have a ton of options. Use them! Your network will get you through the whole career change process. You won’t be able to do it without them.

4. It’s mind over matter

I have 2 banes of my running existence: Every first mile and every long run. Unfortunately, both are necessary for long distance running. I’m telling you though, I hate, hate, HATE every single first mile. I haven’t met a first mile (or a first 30 seconds or minute when I first started running) that I didn’t hate. I have to remind myself during every first mile that the first mile is a lie. It might feel awful. It might be hard. But I’m better and tougher than that first mile so I get through it. Theeeeeen around mile 5, I start really questioning my life choices. I mean, is it really necessary to run another 3-6 miles? Then I remember 2 things: 1) I have to get back home or to wherever I started so I have to run the miles anyway and 2) how accomplished I always feel when I finish. I don’t humble brag when I’m done. I flat out brag brag! I’m so damn proud of myself and I cling to that feeling until the next long run. Running is a mental game even more than it is a physical one.

Far too often we get stuck in our heads. When we face a difficult decision, we get analysis paralysis. We let fear keep us from making changes, leaving us feeling stuck and frustrated. We compare ourselves to others and decide that we are too old, too young, too broke, too everything to change careers. We become frustrated and start questioning whether changing careers is really a good idea. Well, knock it off! When you change your mindset, you change your life. Being determined to make the change will get you through the highs and lows of career changes. When you have confidence in your abilities, you know that you can make whatever changes you need to make. When you focus on your goals instead of your obstacles, you will continue to do whatever is necessary instead of becoming discouraged and quitting. In order to change your career, you must first change your mindset.

5. It’s ok to go slow but you have to GO

One of my favorite running quotes is “I may be slow but I’m lapping everyone on the couch!” Yeah, I’m pretty slow runner and that used to bother me. Then I realized that I was focusing on the wrong thing. I may be slow but I’m able to run longer and further than I ever have in my life. So, I may be slower than a lot of people but I’m lapping both all those people on the coach AND my old self. It doesn’t matter that I’m running slowly. I’m still running!

Look, unless you hit the magical career change jackpot, you’re not going to be able change your career overnight. You’re likely not going to be able to do everything that you need to do all at once. That’s ok. The important thing is be consistent. Even if that means that you only send out one networking email or change one section of your resume a day, that’s progress. Sure, you may not get to your goal as quickly as someone else but you will get there if you consistently and strategically work on it. Don’t get upset because your career change is progressing slowly. It’s still progressing!

Training for a race doesn’t come easily and neither does a career change. But with a clear goal, strategy, and consistency, both are very much doable. In running and in changing careers, you may question why you’re doing it and get frustrated and discouraged. Not every run is a good run and not every interview is either. But don’t stop until you reach that finish line and start your new career!

If you’d like help with coming up with and implementing a career change strategy, you can schedule a FREE 25 minute strategy call with me at calendly.com/tychelauren. I look forward to hearing from you!


P.S.  In both running and changing careers, discipline and determination will get you through until you reach your goal. But you know what? In both cases, a little wine doesn’t hurt either! This is me at the Mile 7 wine stop during my last race, the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon. And yes, I wear sparkling tiaras during all of my races!

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