Don't 'Hit the Wall' in Your Long Career Run

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Some career experts equate managing your career with running a marathon.

Like a long-distance runner, career professionals need to train, build endurance and take a long-term view of their working years.

Also like a marathon, there's a danger of "hitting a wall" with your career. Long-distance runners call that "bonking" and dread the so-called middle miles of a race, when the chances of hitting that wall are highly likely.

Dan Steenerson, a self-described professional achievement expert, has some good, sound advice for career professionals who may be feeling bonked themselves these days.

He says that succeeding in business and in your career is very much like running a marathon.

Sure, you know what you want and are anxious to meet your professional goals. But between the start and finish of that race you'll face a great deal of adversity, and how you handle that adversity will directly affect when or even if you'll finish that race, Steenerson says.

"Those requisite, unavoidable middle miles can be a desolate wasteland or they can be the most productive miles of the race -- it's how you deal with them that determines if and when you cross the finish line, and in what kind of shape ... winning in business is no different," says Steenerson, creator of the "Science of Visioneering" model for business owners, executives and other working professionals.

He says the temptation may to pack it in is real, but it's a temptation you'll have to resist as you hit those dreaded middle miles in your career.

Steenerson has some tips to do just that, as follows:

Stay focused on your goals. "It's in this middle-mile period when there's a huge temptation to quit," he says. "Lack of discipline, poor implementation and failure to simplify are the three primary reasons, but beneath all of those symptoms is the underlying failure: losing sight of the finish line. You have to keep your eye on where you ultimately want to go."

Consider no job too small. The middle-mile portion of your career can be handled more easily the more productive you are, Steenerson says. "Discipline is the foundation upon which all success is built, especially during the middle mile, and is the bridge between wishing and accomplishing," he says. "The formula is pretty simple: Have a no-nonsense attitude, work hard and improve every day. Arrive early and stay late if that's what it takes. Many professionals get stuck in the middle for the simple reason they don't work hard enough to get out of it. Don't be one of them."

Avoid career paralysis. The middle miles are especially challenging because you're feeling so worn out chasing your professional goals. That makes it even more important to finish jobs you've started and follow through on good ideas that can elevate you in the workplace. "If it's you that is impeding progress, do something about it," he advises. He also advises bringing in trusted peers and mentors to keep rolling In that regard; it's perfectly acceptable to have others help push you through to the finish line. "Analyze your paralysis and eliminate any invisible barriers that you place on yourself. If a barrier is external, call on those you trust who can advise you on how to clear the obstacle."

Keep it simple. Steenerson is big on "simplistic synergy" -- wonk-speak for keeping things simple. "It's important to keep your business simple and streamlined," he says. "Why take two dozen steps to accomplish something if you can get it done just as effectively in only three or four?" He says that simplifying any workplace project or task allows you to be more productive in a shorter amount of time.

Lastly, Steenerson says it's more than OK to visualize the finish line -- in fact, it's mandatory to beat those middle-mile blues.

"When you're starting a new business, enterprise or position, your goals are fresh in your mind," he says. "As the weeks and months wear on, it's easy to get lost and forget what inspired you in the first place. The key to getting through the middle miles is to look at your goals each day and remind yourself why you started your journey."

Winning the race is all about taking steady, small steps and avoiding the urge to take "long, bounding strides," Steenerson says. "Remember, marathoners don't sprint -- they know how to pace themselves," he says. "There are times when you'll need to make an extra push and times to keep steady. Measure your progress toward your goals every day and adjust your pace as needed. It's those who can keep focused on the finish line that make it through the middle miles."

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