5 Ways Careers Are Like Dieting

One year after my daughter was born, I finally managed to lose all of my baby weight.  The process was intense and reminded me a lot of what it’s like to build a career.  Along those lines, here are five ways careers are like dieting:

They involve a long and winding journey

A diet that is successful requires a long-term commitment to lifestyle and eating habits. Likewise, your career will be something you must continually focus on, often stopping to reconsider your direction.  And with both diets and careers, what works for you now may not work for you in ten or twenty years.

They require discipline

To achieve weight loss goals, you can’t be lazy or give into momentary cravings – you have to do what you know is best for your body tomorrow and next year.  Your career is the same way.  You won’t always love everything about your job, but as long as you’re learning and growing, keep working hard with your eyes on the prize.

You will try a bunch of different things before hitting upon something that works

I’m not what I would consider an extreme dieter, but in the last several years I’ve tried South Beach, Weight Watchers, and Jenny Craig.  I finally found my stride with a hybrid approach to the second and third programs.  Likewise, you can’t expect to find a career you’re vehemently passionate about in the first few years of your career.  The more you experiment, the more you will learn about what is right for you.

You are responsible for your own progress

It is our tendency to blame external forces when things don’t go our way.  With dieting, maybe you are genetically programmed to be overweight or your parents fed you too much fast food.   With your career, maybe your boss is holding you back or the company doesn’t support upward mobility.  In both cases, remember that achievement is 90 percent about attitude, and nothing and no one controls your attitude but you.

You will experience setbacks

For every few pounds I lost on my post-pregnancy diet, I gained one back.  That’s the nature of the beast.  If dieting were easy, everyone would be thin.  The same is true for careers.  In order to reach the top of your profession, you will have to take risks that cause you to stumble along the way.  What’s important is that you learn from your experiences and that you muster the strength and motivation to keep going.

Alexandra Levit

Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people find meaningful jobs - quickly and simply - and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. Follow her @alevit.

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