The 2012 Olympics in London have seen many moments of sacrifice, hard work and dedication translated into the sweet taste of victory and triumph. While you may not have dedicated your life to career of balance beams or archery, you too can train for your career like an Olympian if you remember three very important things.


3. Everything you do now shapes the person that you will become in the future.


“Somewhere in the world someone is training when you are not. When you race him, he will win.” – Tom Fleming (1976 US Olympic Marathon Trial Competitor)


If there is one thing that we all have in common, it’s the fact that we all regret at least one thing we didn’t do in the past. Whether it was an opportunity to study abroad or take an internship, we look back on our careers and lives with a lot of “what if’s” that may or may not have changed the course of our fate if we did things a bit differently.


In your career, it’s important to understand that your decisions now will undoubtedly impact the life you have for yourself in the future. If you make a decision to proactively network and build relationships with mentors in your field then you will gain exposure to tips and advice that can propel your career much faster. If you choose to go to school, earn a certification or otherwise increase your knowledge in your field, you will find that you become a much more attractive candidate than the person who just accumulates years of experience.


2. If you want to win the gold, you’ll have to set an end goal and work towards that outcome.


“The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.” – Juma Ikangaa (Former Olympic Marathoner from Tanzania)


Every Olympian knows it’s coming. By “it” I mean their shot at world dominance in the Olympics – the highest stage of international amateur competition. Olympians will train for four years just for a 10 second race knowing that in that moment, they need to be the best prepared person for that event regardless of the competition.  Regardless of any accomplishments, intermediate setbacks or challenges, along the way, the end goal is a gold medal in the next Olympic competition.


Your career should be the same way.  Once you have identified a long-term career goal for yourself then the question you must ask yourself every day should be “what can I do today that will help prepare me for my end professional goal?” To answer this question, I suggest you reach out to mentors and leaders in your field and see what it took for them to reach the level of professional growth that you desire. While technology and ways of doing business may have changed from generation to generation, there are a few key habits and personal characteristics of successful people that transcend time.


1. Every victory is just a milestone, not a final destination.


“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” Steve Prefontaine (Former US Olympic Track Athlete)


What happens when an Olympian wins gold? Of course s/he celebrates but if their career calls for it, they start back training again for the next competition four years from now. Think of people like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. They both have entered the record books for their success in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games and will more than likely compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio di Janeiro, Brazil. To champion Olympic athletes, success is a milestone to celebrate but not “the end.”


As you excel in your career and make strides and accomplishments, you should feel confident in setting new goals. The beauty of professional development and career accomplishment is that earning one new title or job helps prepare you to go after even more accomplishments. If you wish to succeed, never stop setting new goals that push you to go higher, faster and stronger. Just like an Olympian.