Look around you before work in the morning, lunchtime or even after work and you will inevitably see a plethora of people fully clad in the latest fitness gear running around town. A lot of these people are colleagues and even clients, looking to get fit for a myriad of reasons from general fitness to competing in the ultimate ultra marathon. But anyone who has done this to any level will know the great balancing act that we have to perform when trying to get fit, excelling at your career and of course managing your own personal life. Most of us just get by. Managing to get some runs in every other day in between work commitments. But how do you master both your career and your fitness and supercharge both to never before reached heights?
First and foremost you have to make a commitment to change. Because wherever you find yourself you want to improve. For your career this means one of two things. Either you are still looking to grow, gain your next promotion or secure that major deal or you are looking for a new challenge with a new role. Either way...its time to get planning. For your fitness goals, unless you have just come off winning your second Olympic gold medal, there is another major achievement that you want to attain. Similarly, the planning process is vital. But neither of these things should be looked at independently. Rather both your work and your fitness careers have a symbiotic relationship. Feeding off each other. Breathing life into each and above all providing balance. As one side grows and builds so must the other.
Now I know what you are saying now. "This is all about work/life balance right?" Well as important as that is there is so much more to it. For the much vaunted work/life balance has connotations of flexi days, working from home and the like. What I am suggesting is purely how to take both your career and your fitness to never before seen levels.
A few years ago I decided very much the same thing. I knew that I wanted to promote my business and use my work to travel, see the world, experience new cultures and places and build a network of contacts across the world providing exceptional service to my clients and candidates a like, based on quality, integrity and a pursuit of excellence. As I started to fulfil this side of my life I found that I was running and training more and more and soon set an ambitious goal of competing in the 2015 Marathon des Sables. The toughest footrace in the world. 270 km across the Sahara desert over 6 days and self supported.
I set out to plan meticulously both my work and my training but absolutely the toughest task was to keep balance and constantly work on keeping focused on both disciplines. The key to both was to set small achievable goals week by week which I would break down day by day. Small incremental improvements each day, hardly noticeable, would soon add up to major leaps forward each month with a long term goal set in mind but not looked at on a daily basis as the small goals were what drove me.
It was this constant goal setting that saw me through the 50 degree Celsius heat, gruelling landscape and back to back marathons with a 92km run thrown in the middle. As the going got tough my goals reduced to just getting a few yards at a time. Every one of these minor goals a major achievement. The life lessons were coming thick and fast and the sense of achievement crossing the finish line and receiving your simple medal made it all worth the months of hard training.
Now I really cant under estimate the necessity of planning. Take some time away from the hustle and bustle and give yourself time to brainstorm. Set out your dreams. Think big and write down where you want to be in the next five years. Don't be afraid that it seems way off. It will be. But you are not going to achieve this over the next day. Its a five year plan! And did I mention......think BIG! Be ambitious.
Now I am sure that it can't have escaped your attention that there has been a much hyped fight between Floyd Mayweather, the 49-0 world acclaimed greatest pound for pound boxer of all time versus the brash, confident MMA sensation Connor McGregor from the UFC. Love him or loathe him Connor McGregor exemplifies the process of planning your meteroic rise from obscurity to super stardom.
McGregor earnt by all accounts at least $70million for this fight. A pretty decent payday by any stretch of the imagination. But when you realise that just 4 years ago he was an out of work plumber in Dublin claiming benefits of 188 Euros a week it makes it even more staggering. A figure that he clearly used for motivation as he subsequently named his yacht "The 188". Now I am sure that McGregor will tell you that he knew full well that after his first fight 4 years ago he wasn't going to be able to challenge Floyd Mayweather for the biggest payday in sporting history the next month, but he had already set out a plan that he was going to be the very best the MMA sport had ever seen and through a mixture of supreme confidence and hard work sprinkled with an ability to push himself beyond his previously imagined limits, he has become the biggest draw in global sports.
And therein is the most important lesson to be learned. All of this takes hard, hard work. Early starts. Late finishes. Pushing yourself to limits you never thought possible just a few months previously. A really tough journey it absolutely is, but when you take a short pause to look back on the journey you have taken it simply fills you with more motivation to achieve even more.
Just as Connor McGregor admits that plumbing just wasn't for him and he had to do something radical to get out of it, the place you are in may not be right for you. Your current job may well be your "188". It may be that you get out of breath running for the bus in the morning. In truth, it matters not what your "188" is but we will all have one. The trick is identifying it and using it as your motivational fuel to drive yourself forward not just at the start of your journey but every single day.