There are more factors that are within our own control affecting our careers than we realize. The more we can self-govern our actions and words, the better we can manage the perception of our ability to perform and the actual performance itself. Not everything can be controlled, but putting a best foot forward can contribute to increasing the odds of success in your favor. When you have the opportunity to influence your own situation, it is one that should be grabbed with immediate and meaningful action to follow.
One career-focused influence opportunity I’ve noticed is incorporating fitness and emphasizing health-based activities into life and the inadvertent impact that it has on how things go in the office. When I exercise, practice meal prep, sleep, and stay hydrated, I realize that I have more confidence, focus better, communicate better, and am in more control of my stress.
In recent years, I let the worst of work get the best of my good habits. Instead of sticking to my routine of running or walking or the gym, I succumbed to the pressures of deadlines and the falsity that working longer means better results. I was (and am) smarter than that. With poor time management around work activities In combination with injuries, I went from running a half marathon to having to work my way back up to two slow miles. But I don’t have to stay stuck in that spot – and neither do you, if you’re in the same trap.
It is disappointing to admit the reality of falling out of shape over the past six years. But along the way, I’ve become a mentally stronger person and have learned some tools and reincorporated practices that make fitness part of my routine and part of my career.
Research shows that fit employees are paid more than their peers. It isn’t because of their athletic prowess is applicable to the workplace. Think instead about all of the personal improvement that comes from being dedicated to not just fitness, but any mission: commitment to a goal, dedication in the face of “adversity”, ability to push through when things get tough, and ability to prioritize what is most important. This is certainly an abridged list, and a list of admirable traits that directly translate over to the professional side of the table.
When I workout consistently, I find the following to be true:
- I focus better, and am able to be more productive
- I feel more confident in myself personally, inwardly and how I perceive my abilities
- I feel more confident in what I am able to accomplish, externally with others
- Sleep comes more easily, I am rested and ready to go
- I’m more energized consistently throughout the day – negating the need for the 2pm crash and coffee
- When I work out in the morning, I start the day with an accomplishment, setting the tone for the rest of the day.
- I’m happier, and that makes me a better wife, friend, daughter, colleague, and leader.
Knowing what the benefits of certain practices are always drive my willingness to adopt them. With full recognition of the advantages for my well being and potential impact on my career, what are the next steps for me?
- Build routine. This includes planning my days and weeks more intentionally.
- Find ways to up my game. In addition to a simple gym membership, I also have a rowing machine at home. This piece gives me the opportunity to change pace and work different muscles.
- Measure and track progress. I believe that what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done, so I need to create and stick to methods of tracking what I’m doing and how I’m getting better – in one place.
- Find goals. Doing this will make it easier for me to get motivated and get going each day. Whether it is losing weight or new distances or a milestone number of workouts, having goals drives my progress and success.
- Make it social. What activities can I join with other friends doing? This spring, a group of my college friends and I are going to another city for a race together. It becomes a girls’ weekend on top of a fitness event, so benefits abound!
These next steps are largely what it takes at work to succeed as well – again, the crossover effect of fitness and work is clear! You can still be successful without fitness, but why wouldn’t you want to benefit your mind and body and create an advantage for yourself? Many of my colleagues are former college athletes at both club and varsity levels. Not only do most still work out, but you can see the competitive drive still alive, striving for excellence. Those attitudes flow in both directions in all of us, to and from work and fitness. Fitness is a way to get relief from the stressors of work, to build relaxation, to focus, and to reset the mind to be ready for what is next.
Have you seen your fitness impacting your career? How does the cross section of the two worlds work for you? Look forward to hearing your comments below!