Ramblings of a Creative Mind

Thoughts on Work and the World from an Executive Mom

How to Run a Marathon

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Marathon“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will themselves not be realized.  Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die”. — Daniel H. Burnham

Have you ever run a marathon?  About ten years ago, I decided I was going to do it to raise money for a charity.  At the time, everyone I knew thought I’d lost my mind.  Now, I am not an athletic person; in fact, I am rather clumsy and tend to bump into things – a lot.  So taking on 26.2 miles was definitely going to be a major challenge, and one that required considerable training and planning.  And so I began – running with a team each week in increasingly longer distances towards our mutual goal.  Running a marathon not only requires a goal and physical and mental conditioning, but tactical planning too: choosing the right shoes, maintaining a safe pace, packing items to stay hydrated and maintain your sodium and glycogen levels so you can finish safely.  (Legend says that Pheidippides, whose famous run is the foundation for today’s distance, collapsed and died at the end – and who wants that?)  It also involves checking in with yourself on a regular basis to make sure your plan is working, and making adjustments as needed.

Your work life is no different.  You’ve decided to run the Career Marathon.  Now, let’s plan how you’ll make it to the finish line.  There are four steps to creating your plan.

1.   Create your purpose statement.  Your Company helps here.  If you don’t know what the Company’s Mission, Philosophy and Goals are, find out.  If you don’t know the goal, you don’t know where you are going.
2.   Envision your future.  You need to be specific and descriptive.  For example, say you’re in sales, delivering 10 widgets a month, and you want to boost your results.  Picture yourself delivering 20 widgets a month, every month.  Your accounts are excited when you come in to visit.  You get referrals from every client.  They write great reviews about you on Google / Facebook / Yelp.  You make $XXX dollars this year, and take a vacation to Hawaii with your family, etc. Write it up and post it on your mirror.  Post it everywhere.  If it is always in front of you, it helps keep you focused.
3.   Describe your current reality.  Now’s the time to be brutally honest with yourself.  You should be so honest that you may not want to show this to anyone but yourself.  Where are you today?    Maybe you write something like: “I haven’t been out marketing for over a month.  I didn’t call 3 clients back.  I’m uncomfortable asking for referrals.”  Whatever it is, if you are honest with yourself about what you do today, it will help you plan for success.
4.   Make specific commitments.  Bullet point the action steps you are going to take to get to the future you want.  “I will go marketing every Tuesday.  I will touch bases with every lead before the end of the day. I will ask for a testimonial.”  Whatever you commit to, you’ve just made a promise to yourself, so you can achieve what you want.
Plans and goals are excellent, but they are also worthless unless you review them on a regular basis.  You have to check in to make sure you are staying on task.  One of the best ways you can do this is to set up a “Weekly Status Update.”  Let’s be honest.  When you’re as busy as you are today, it’s easy to lose your way and become reactive instead of proactive.  You may forget to follow up with a member when the phones are ringing off the hook or don’t review your notes from your last marketing visit.  When that happens, important things fall through the cracks.  You end up embarrassed, or worse, you may let your members, your credit union, the Company and yourself down.
When you set up your “Weekly Status Update,” you give yourself a chance to get ahead of the game and see how well you are progressing towards your Marathon Goal.  You stay on top of things, instead of running to catch up.  I like to schedule 1-2 hours for my weekly review.  Now, it never takes that long, but if you book it you’re your calendar, you’ll get it done.  So what is your agenda for your meeting with yourself?
1.   Review your referrals.  Have you checked in with everyone?  Is there someone you need to call today?  Stay on top of this, and you won’t have any “heat” issues.
2.   Review all of the notes you’ve kept over the week.  I’m low tech, and use a notebook as e-mail reminders get lost in the Inbox.  Quickly read back through your notes to see if there are any action items or things that you needed to do.
3.   Review your calendar from last week.  Were there any things you promised your credit unions on your marketing visits?  Notes from your sales meeting?  This will jog your memory and help you catch up as well.  Did you miss an appointment?  Better reschedule it.
4.   Review this week’s calendar.  This is one of the most important steps.  It allows you to plan in advance, stay ahead of the curve and keep your sales momentum on track.
5.   Review your Action Lists.  What do you really need to accomplish this week?  Book it.
6.   Review your Marathon Goal. Remind yourself that you’re headed to the Finish Line.  If you stay focused, you’ll be a winner.

 

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Author: Marci Francisco Girardi

Proud Mom to two awesome boys and climbing the Corporate ladder one day at a time. Vice President of Automotive Marketing and Business Development. Love credit unions; fascinated by cars; quirky, random and yes... I love Garth Brooks. Follow me @Marci_Francisco

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