09/11/2012 06:59 pm ET Updated Nov 11, 2012

6 Steps to Help You Run, Walk or Get You to What's Next

I participated in my first 5K recently and, in doing so, learned more about myself than I expected. Most specifically, I learned that I don't like running -- but that won't prevent me from probably doing it again. There were many parallels between how I trained and completed the 5K and how I approach much of everything else in my life, and during this self-assessment I learned lessons that can be universally applied:

  1. Take motivation where you can get it: Always intrigued by tech-enablement, I downloaded the app Couch to 5K to my iPhone first and then decided to take on the running challenge. Being self-directed is great, but sometimes you need something else to give you that first push.
  1. Find an accountability partner: I issued a call on Facebook to any of my friends with good knees and Elizabeth was willing. She also text-motivated when I was too hot, tired, or disinterested to leave the house. In the end, it was she who got me to the finish line.
  1. Have a goal: A local advocacy group scheduled a 5K in my town the day after my birthday. It was a great way to begin a new year of getting older, providing extra incentive.
  1. Tell on yourself: I let everyone know I'd be participating in the 5K; and the iPhone app also enables you to send social media updates every time you complete a training session, so I was building lots of support leading up to the run. Also, so many people knew -- I had to do it.
  1. Even sprinters have to moderate pace: I'm initially enthusiastic so my inclination is to begin with a big burst of speed but a 5K newbie can't do that and expect to complete. I had to learn how to ration my energy.
  1. Lower expectations when trying something new: It was hard to take on a new challenge knowing I wasn't going to perform at the level I would have liked. I had to accept that I wasn't prepared to run the whole 5K, and just hope to finish ... and I did in just under 45 minutes.

ExecuNet members commented and shared their approaches to goal-setting:

"The positive experience increases your level of confidence and the learnings help you approach things differently!"

"The best way to get to what's next is to keep an eye on the goals of today. While we plan for long-term accomplishments, keeping a keen eye on today is essential for accomplishing the successes we hope for tomorrow. One day at a time, one task at a time, with the hope of achieving long-term goals."

"Like you, I participated in my first 5K recently. Reflecting on your lessons learned I thought I would share mine. Being my first 5K I wanted to 'be ready' so I prepared in two ways: 1) I listened to friends who run regularly and tried to learn from their experiences of what to do and what not to do; and 2) I practice to ensure I could get around the course in a reasonable time.

Both actions could apply to career development. I've found that learning from others through observation is a great way to learn what to do more of (and what to do less of). On a similar note, practice makes you better, whether it be writing a cover letter or reviewing your answers to the most frequently asked interview questions -- the more you prepare the easier it becomes."

"My takeaway is to focus on the long-term goal(s) and don't get distracted. That's not easy... It takes persistence."

How do you make sure you get things done?