I spent Sunday night watching amazing Olympic athletes compete in swimming and gymnastics.
As I watched their spectacular performances, and marveled at the impressiveness of the strength of their bodies, I found myself thinking most about how strong their minds are, and how disciplined they are with their training to get to the level they’re at now.
When interviewed, they all talk about the various goals the set for themselves and how they just keep going after their goal even when injuries, family duties, or other roadblocks have stood in their way.
It struck me how much training to be an Olympian has a lot in common with navigating a job search or career change.
I easily identified six things that any job searcher should do that Olympians do as well. There are definitely others I haven’t thought about... so if you’ve got more ideas, post ‘em in the comments below!
1. Have a Goal in Mind.
Katie Ledecky, Michael Phelps, Simone Biles. Whether it’s securing a medal, beating a world record, or hitting a certain time, all these athletes have a specific goal in mind when it comes to competing. And all job seekers should too.
Are you working towards a specific type of job? Or maybe its a specific level of salary you want to reach? Are you looking to achieve your goal by a certain time?
Michael Phelps isn’t just swimming everyday hoping he wins a gold medal; he’s got goals and metrics he’s hitting while he trains. Your job search should be the same. What’s your goal for your next career move?
2. Make a Training Calendar
Not only do Olympic athletes have big long-term goals, but they also have short-term ones that keep them going throughout their training, leading up to the big day. Your job search should be the same way.
Cyclist’s don’t just bike 100 miles on the first day; they work up to it! You’re not going to get a job on the first day you start looking either; you’re going to work up to it!
Like an Olympian, you should be organized with your own training calendar. As you think about your goal and work backwards from it, what needs to happen for you to hit the milestones you need to secure your next job?
An athlete might exercise six days a week and take one rest day. And each of those six days has activities they do as they work towards their big goal.
What are the activities you need to do to achieve your goal of a new job? What would happen if you put them on a calendar? I bet you’d be more accountable and productive at working towards your next career move.
Need some inspiration and ideas for your own career-training calendar? Sign up for our Career Reset email series and one of the great perks you'll get is our Pivot Journeys’ career-training calendar that covers some of the most important steps for everyone to take in the first month of job searching.
Most athletes don’t do the same activities or workouts everyday. They cross-train in order to ensure a well-rounded all around level of fitness. Just like when you train to run a 10k, there are some days you don’t run but you bike or lift weights.
And just like an athlete, your job search activities should be diverse too.
Some days you might spend the whole day working on cover letters. Other days you might spend your time networking with people at an event or informational coffee. Some days you might do a little of everything.
Think about securing your next job as if it was training for the Olympics. What area of your job search are you strongest at? Which areas do you need to put on your calendar to carve out time to do?
4. Mental Preparation
As I mentioned, while I was watching the dazzling Simone Biles I thought so much about how critical mental preparation and mental health is as you work towards your goal – whether it’s athletic or career-oriented.
I noticed how many swimmers in particular were listening to something with earphones on before they raced.
What songs do you listen to in order to pump you up?
Which songs relax you and calm you down?
What mantras have you told yourself that help you get through tough times or challenges?
Have these at the ready during your job search, as you never know when you might need them.
Staying in tiptop mental shape is key to navigating the ups and downs of a job search. Think about what works for you, and keep it top of mind to keep yourself engaged and motivated.
5. Train with a Group
Was I the only one who thought it was pretty amazing how the USA gymnastics team looks together?! How encouraging and supportive they are of one another - even when they’re competing against each other!
These ladies know that they’re stronger together, and how powerful it is to have others have your back when you’re competing.
So why shouldn’t you create that supportive, encouraging environment with others throughout your job search? Who are the people you know who are in similar moments in their career?
Get together with them, create accountability for each other’s progress, motivate and cheer each other on throughout the process.
6. Get a Coach
Every single athlete whose name we’ve been hearing in the Olympics has a coach. A coach trains, instructs, teaches, supports, guides, encourages, and pushes you to do your absolute best.
Why shouldn’t you have a coach guiding, training, supporting and pushing you along the way during your job search? Think of the added value they provide, helping you leverage your strengths and navigate the parts of your search that are more difficult.
If you don’t know where to start to find a coach who’s the right fit for you, start by reading this.
Olympian's moments of glory are so spectacular for them largely because they know how hard they worked to get there and it paid off! When you approach your job search with the same vigor, discipline, and energy, you'll feel as if you're winning a gold medal when you land your dream job.