Your Career is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Q. My career has not gone at all the way I thought it would when I was young and idealistic. I still want to enjoy my work, but my job as been littered with disappointments in both people and my industry. How should I cope with disappointments so I don’t just get bitter and give up?

A. I tell my clients to cope disappointment by being keenly aware that neither the people they work with nor their industries are out to get them personally. I also point out that many of my clients started out young and idealistic with a very high bar of expectations. When your idealism is not met, you will want to give up if you believe you are being singled out for poor treatment.

If you realize instead that even your low bar will frequently be too high for most people you can experience both peace and freedom in work and life. The idea that your low bar may still be too high will make you aware that people don’t just disappoint you … they disappoint themselves and others in exactly the same way they let you down.

We all have a tendency to take the world way too personally. Because we are very interested in ourselves, we assume others are equally interested in us and reacting uniquely to us.

We could not be more wrong. The opposite of this is actually true. Most people are simply doing what they do with themselves and everyone else. You just happen to be standing in front of them when they do what they do all the time.

If you can stop taking the world so personally, a million creative options open up for you. You will triple check everything everywhere. You will not be upset when people drop the ball. You will always have a Plan B when others drop the ball. And the best part is you will never again believe that you are uniquely being snubbed when the ball is dropped.

When you meet that workplace unicorn that behaves well and exceeds your low bar, you can celebrate these people and invite them and all their similar friends to join your business network.

When you meet people who consistently underperform your low bar, you will graciously exit stage left and avoid them and all their friends. You won’t have arguments with people who predictably behave badly with you and everyone else they encounter. Remember, it is not about you, and they don’t believe they have a problem. If you stop dealing with them, you will stop having a problem as well.

None of us are in a position to make people at work shape up. What we can always do is shape ourselves up and take stock of our unrealistic expectations. A career is not a sprint but a marathon. If you are going to have energy to finish the race, you need to stop wasting energy on people or circumstances that you cannot influence that do not want to change!

The last word(s)

Q. I have some rather ambitious professional dreams but I cannot see exactly where I could end up if I pursue these ideas. Is there a way to know where I would end up before I start implementing some of my plans?

A. No, stop waiting to be able to see an entire staircase where you are guaranteed to reach the top and instead be willing to take whatever small step is currently right in front of you!


(Article written by Daneen Skube)