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What Exercise Can Teach You About Career Success

Emily-BenningtonsmAs a nation, we are completely obsessed with winning and weight loss. Even more so, it seems, when the winning IS the weight loss. Stroll past any magazine rack at any given time, and you will be faced with multiple stories about celebrities—who has cellulite, who doesn’t, and who used to but doesn’t now. Over and over, all year long.

Editors will tell you these issues are among their most popular. That shouldn’t be surprising. More than one third of the US population is considered obese. Not just fat. Obese.

Part of the problem is we’ve gotten really good at faking ourselves out. The diet will start “tomorrow.” The boot camp will start “on Monday.” Then Monday comes and goes, month after month, but the dress still won’t zip. But regardless of whether success is a size or a title – getting to “what’s next” is the result of what’s now.

Right now. Not tomorrow. Not Monday.

This is the greatest lesson I learned from (finally) getting into shape recently. Specifically, I learned a 20% effort gets 20% results. I’m not exactly proud of this, but there really was a time when I thought 30 minutes on the treadmill reading US Weekly at 3MPH was a great workout. It’s only when I set a goal to run 3 miles in 30 minutes that I finally realized to get real results, you have to do real work.

And a funny thing happened.

As I started writing down my fitness goals, I begin to write down my career goals as well. Just like I had to tackle my workout first thing in the morning (or I wouldn’t do it), I started tackling my toughest work projects first too.

Then, the same “General Emily” – i.e. the mental warrior I created to crush “I-don’t-feel-like-exercising-Emily” – started popping up at work too. Suddenly General Emily was squashing procrastinator-Emily, too-much-coffee-Emily, and I’ll just-have-one-bagel-Emily.

Hmmmm. The discipline from my new workout routine was spreading. Other people started to notice…and I felt powerful, not just at the gym but in my job as well. That’s the moment I realized there’s no such thing as compartmentalizing life. You can’t be “strong” in one area and “weak” in another. It’s all the same. If the dress doesn’t zip maybe the career doesn’t either. So if you need to make a change – get uncomfortable and do the work. Starting now.

Past Conference speaker Emily Bennington is author of Who Says It’s a Man’s World: The Girls’ Guide to Corporate Domination and the founder of AWAKE EXEC mindful leadership coaching for women.