Marathon Challenge

Fabulous, Fearless, Foxy, Forty!  That was the bold theme I chose for myself this year as I turn forty.  I really didn’t like the idea of turning forty so, in an effort to face this big number head-on, I chose to conquer it by doing something radically challenging where I had no choice but to be fearless, and hopefully the result will be foxy; The Chicago Marathon!  Yes, I know.  I’m nuts!  I completely agree!  In fact, just one year ago, I recall having this conversation with someone where we both agreed that it was insane to run a marathon.  We couldn’t understand why anyone would want to put themselves through all that agony!  Well, now I am that somebody, and I am running the marathon to prove to myself that I really can do anything I set my mind to!  I often say to my clients and workshop attendees that “I am walking the walk, so I can talk the talk,” but in this case, perhaps I am ‘running the run, so I can show you the fun!”

Fresh Start
Since I didn’t want to give myself a way out of this, I thought about how I could further commit to running this marathon while making a positive impact.  With careful thought, I decided to run  in support of a cause that I care about; assisting job seekers and unemployed people.  So, Fresh Start of Illinois and their clients will benefit from my run.  It’s a perfect fit!  As I train and run a marathon, the job seekers who benefit from Fresh Start’s services have also been running their own marathon in the job search arena, which has radically changed in the last 3 years!  They have to acquire new skills, learn new tools and, are working  their interviewing muscles while having some good ‘running’ days and some not so good.  Either way, they have to keep persevering through it all.  I guess with Fresh Start relying upon me to complete the marathon, I have no way out of this now!

So, who do you have to be to run a marathon?  Focused, determined, stamina, faith, confidence, and fearlessness!  Every day you wake-up to run, you have to be focused on the goal; the outcome.  It takes loads of determination just to start a run each morning.  While running, you are building your stamina and every step you take is testing your faith because every step you take, you want to slow down, walk or stop all together.  But as you continue to push yourself through these things, you begin to increase your confidence, and that is the ultimate prize!  Well, that and a gorgeous body, right?
You see, it is the same thing for a job seeker.  Especially for those who have been searching for a job for more than a year, which unfortunately is a lot of people.  They have to wake-up every morning focused with determination on the goal.  They are also increasing their stamina in being able to stay in the game for a much longer run than they thought!  But as they continue to push themselves, they begin to increase their confidence with small wins until they have finally arrived at their marathon finish line, employment!  Well, that and uncanny resilience!

Your Challenge
A marathon is 26.2 miles, which is also the number of months many people are experiencing with unemployment.  In honor of them and in honor of each mile run, we are asking for a donation of $1 for each mile of the marathon!  That’s $26.20 (or more)!  Our goal is to raise $10,000 by race day and we would appreciate your donation as well as those around you!
Simply click and pledge your donation to help job seekers win their own personal job search marathon!  All proceeds go directly to Fresh Start of Illinois to support workshops, new member packets, special events, and other important programs serving the many job seekers in Lake County.

Follow Along…
Follow our progress and sign up to be included in the festivities on race day!
Follow me on my journey of the ups and downs of training for a marathon as I learn what it takes to keep pushing toward this 26.2 mile goal!
Check in with Fresh Start of Illinois.  Keep track of how we are doing with our goal of $10,000, leave your comments about your own ‘marathon’, and sign-up to receive special notices about our festivities on race day.  We’re making some special plans for race day and we’d love to have you join us!
Together, we can all be Fabulous, Fearless, and Foxy!  (You can add whatever number you want to that!)

The Marathon of the Job Search!

Knowing that my first marathon is in my future, a friend of mine forwarded a web site that offered some great information including the “10 Race-Day Preparation Tips.”

As I was reading the article, I couldn’t help but relate it to the marathon of the job search and how, with a little tweaking, this article could be re-named ’10 Interview-Day Preparation Tips.’

Tip #1. Enjoy the Taper/Relax

For runners, the idea is to decrease your running just prior to the big race so that your body will be fresh and ready for race day.  The same is true for job hunters.  You’ve put in many hours of preparation and training for this big day.  More studying of interview questions or the company history/products/services can be very unnerving. In running, “the taper” is designed to allow your body to recuperate, rebuild, and be fresh for race day. Adding in extra cross-training at the last minute can cause your fitness level to dip and actually lessen your race-day potential. So, the same is true with interview day.  Relax and focus on getting yourself mentally prepared in terms of who you have to be to ge that job.  Do you have to be confident, ambitious, driven? Avoid the temptation to cram in more interview questions or more information about the company and relax.  Be confident and enjoy ‘the taper’so that you can truly BE your confident-self on interview day!

Tip #2. Fuel Up/Immerse Yourself in the Positive!

During the last three days before a marathon, a runner’s carbohydrate intake should dramatically increase.  This will provide the best energy necessary to carry a runner to the finish line.

The same is true for job seekers, but in terms of afirmations and positive speak.  This is the crucial time when you need to remind yourself that you are smart, a fast learner, a great leader, and really good at what you do.  Take some of the examples below and say them to yourself morning, noon, and night.  The object is to really BELIEVE them before you enter that interview!

– I am smart
– I am talented
– I am knowledgeable
– I have something significant to offer/contribute
– I can do whatever I set my mind to
– I am a fast learner
– I deserve this opportunity
Tip #3. Hydration/Values

Staying properly hydrated from the start line to the finish line can make or break a runner’s race.  It’s about making sure you drink enough water and sports drinks before, during and after the race.  It’s also about being educated about the sports drinks that will be provided at the race and making sure your body is used to, or can tolerate the featured beverage.

So, how does this one relate to interview day?  Well, anyone who been to one or two of my workshops knows that VALUES are hugely important.  Being aware of your personal values is like water; both crucial to living a great life.  When you know your personal values you can weigh them against the company culture, the hiring manager, and any others who might interview you.  If you cannot tolerate the company’s values or the hiring manager’s values, you may want to reconsider this particular opportunity.  If the company values and the hiring manager’s values align with yours, that’s the key to a fulfilling life and the key to the perfect job for you!  That’s complete hydration!
Tip #4. Enjoy the Expo…But Resist the Urge/The Temptation of The Schmooz

Race expos are lots of fun and typically full of vendors selling everything from shoes to sport drinks. While it is fun to take advantage of shoe and clothing bargains, runners should never wear anything purchased at an expo on race day or load up on free samples of sports drinks and energy foods.  That’s a disaster just waiting to happen, especially when you eat and drink items you’ve never before used.

For interview day, some companies roll out the full red-carpet treatment.  They might give you some freebie promotional items or even take you out to lunch, if you’re in for the full interview day.  This is when you should remain highly focused on YOU and not bedazzled by the lovely lunch and latest trade show gadget they’ve schmoozed you with.  Accept their gifts graciously but don’t be distracted by them.  You are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you.  Stay focused on making sure they fit your needs and highlighting all of your strong points.

Tip #5. Hit the Hay…But Not Too Early

Runners and interviewees alike should try to get eight hours of sleep the night before the big day but, don’t worry if you don’t get a full eight hours. If you normally get eight to ten hours of sleep on a regular basis, then a few hours of sleep before the big day most likely won’t have any affect on your performance.  Rembember, it’s all about being rested and relaxed so that you can be your best!

Tip #6. Dress for Success

On race day, runners shouldn’t overdress for the race. In fact, they should dress as if it’s 15 degrees warmer than it really is because their body will warm up at least by that much while running. Also, to avoid a panicky morning, racers should lay out their running gear and pin on the race bib so that they simply need to get up and on race day.

The same is true for interviewees with regards to laying out your clothes the night before.  This way you can stay relaxed and focused on how brilliant you are and how much they need you for this position.

Overdressing, however, is something you SHOULD do.  You should always dress for the position BEYOND the one you are interviewing for.  So, break out your best tie, the cuff-links, etc, but make sure you’ve checked for the KISS method before you leave the house.   (KISS – Keep It Simple Sweatheart)  Too much bling, pattern, or cologne can create a big turn-off so make sure you keep it simple.

Tip #7. Warm Up

For a marathon, the pre-race warm-up needs to consist of dynamic movements, not traditional stretch-n-hold stretches. Five minutes of brisk walking followed by two to three minutes of easy jogging makes a great dynamic warm-up for a half or full marathon. You’ve got many miles ahead of you. You want to be limber but not worn out before the start.

The same is true for your interview day. While in the parking lot, it is good to review your notes, interview questions, information about the company, etc. but only for a few moments.  A detailed review might wear you out and cause anxiety before you even enter the building.  So, review and relax, then make your run for the finish line!

Tip #8. Cool Your Jets

For runners, it’s very easy to get caught up in the incredible energy and the hoopla at the start of the race.  When that gun goes off, you may start running faster than your intended race pace, which will likely burn up all of your energy in the beginning and leaving nothing for the last few miles.  Instead, focus on your race pace or even a slightly slower pace when the starting gun sounds. Around mile 18, runners are glad they didn’t burn up that precious fuel at the start.

As an interviewee, don’t forget to breathe and relax as you are sitting in that waiting room waiting for the start of your interview.  Your thoughts may be racing but breathing and relaxing is the best thing you can do until that HR person comes out to greet you.

Tip #9. Have a Mantra

When climbing a tough hill or fighting off fatigue, runners use mantras to help pull them through a tough stretch. They spend a little time before race day on some motivating mantras including:

– Can’t stop. Won’t stop.
– The pain of discipline or the pain of regret.
– Not everybody can do this!
– I am because I run. I run because I am.
– One step at a time.
– Be fierce. Be bold.
– Run strong. Be brave.
– Go light. Feel brave.
– Think strong. Be strong. Run Strong.
– Make mom proud!

What can I say, interviewees…I’d suggest the same mantras for you!

Tip #10. Trust and Believe

For runnners and interviewees alike, there are always factors out of your control that may affect the big day, such as terrible traffic, crazy weather, extreme temperatures, illness, injury, etc., but what runners and interviewees can control is their confidence. Trust your training and believe in yourself as an athlete and as an expert in your field.  Know that all the hard work you’ve put in over the past several months and all of the experience of the past years will shine through.

When that sabotaging voice of doubt begins to creep in, picture yourself throwing that voice in the trash can, then say to it, “Thank you, but your services are not needed today because I’m going to win big!”  Then remember to smile and continue to put one foot in front of the other!

With the right race-day or interview-day preparation, you’ll finish victoriously!