THE BLOG
06/19/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Manners Marathon

Thousands of runners and their fans have descended upon Boston for this, the 114th running of the Boston Marathon. While I will not be donning my sneakers today in Hopkinton, I do find inspiration in the race. After all, no one wakes up one morning and decides, "Hey, I think I will run 26.2 miles today!" There is much preparation, planning and training involved with such a major undertaking. Yet many people berate themselves for not being able to instantly complete other major undertakings in their lives. The key to running a marathon and to making positive, polite changes in your life is to divide the undertaking into manageable tasks.

Savvy Scenario I: You have been working for a while and want to know about next steps and maybe even a raise. Yet the thought of approaching the boss has become an anxiety-invoking idea. A conversation such as this, especially in this economy should not be attempted lightly.
Tasks:
1. Review your job description; create addendums for tasks, projects and goals not specifically outlined.
2. Speak with colleagues and human resources to learn where others in your position have gone.
3. Conduct internet research (safely outside your office) as to other positions which match your skills, experience and background.
4. Ask to schedule an initial meeting with your manager for earlier in the week. (It is best not to have these types of conversations on a Friday afternoon.)
5. Create a list of questions for your manager. Be sure to solicit feedback on your current role, suggestions for polishing your skills and advice on potential career paths. Specifically ask what is needed to be considered for a raise and/or promotion. Thank your boss for the meeting.
6. Ponder the information you have gathered. Decide if you need to enroll in a class to modernize your skills, if you are ready to really ask for a raise, or if it is time to update your resume.

Savvy Scenario II: While happy, positive and exciting, weddings do involve planning, administration, logistics and correspondence. To ease the major undertaking of writing wedding thank you notes, wedding couples should create an easy strategy for success.
Tasks:
1. A few months before the wedding, order the thank you note stationery.
2. As affirmative rsvp cards arrive, address and stamp the thank you notes.
A3. ny gift received prior to the wedding should be opened immediately, checked to ensure successful shipping, packed away, the thank you note written and sent.
4. Immediately after the wedding, monetary gifts should be recorded, deposited and the thank you notes written. Next, the gift items should be opened, inspected and noted.
5. Over the course of the next few days, 5 -10 thank you notes should be written a night by each of the newlyweds. Remember, the sooner the shorter, the later the longer. If you are really stuck, use our Thank You Note wizard to overcome writer's block. (http://tinyurl.com/lq74nk)
6. Additional gifts which arrive after the wedding should be acknowledged as they are received and opened.

Savvy Scenario III: It is always such fun to be a guest in someone's home. Yet reciprocating the invitation can stop even the most savvy someone in his/her tracks. As adults, after accepting an invitation, it is your obligation to proffer one in return. While never a quid pro quo situation, at some point it is time to don the proverbial hosting hat.
Tasks:
1. Start small, such as inviting over 4 friends for a movie night with snacks. Then, move on to brunch buffet for 6. When you are ready, a seated meal for 12.
2. Create a guest list. If your list is too long, divide into manageable numbers for multiple occasions.
3. Decide upon your menu. Remember to use available resources. If you do not love to cook, think in terms of assembly or order in for the night!
4. Issue invitations. Formal invitations require mailing, informal invitations may be sent by email and super-casual invitations by text.
5. Clean the rooms your guests will visit. Shop for food, drinks and decorations. Wash, cut, and cook any foods that can be made in advance.
6. Day of, set the table and stock the bar. Finish any food preparations. Choose your mood music and your outfit. Welcome guests.

What is your personal or professional protocol marathon? Instead of being overwhelmed by the task in its entirety, think of how you can break the activity down into smaller steps. No step is too small. Running 26.2 miles might just begin with purchasing a new pair of running shoes, researching a resume writing guide, finding funky stamps, or restocking red wine for when your guests rendezvous at your place.