By Nancy Marshall, The PR Maven® 

How to Train For Your Career Like an Olympic AthleteWith the Tokyo Olympics kicking off this Friday, Olympic athletes are back in the spotlight. We’ve waited five long years for the XXXII Olympiad and it’s shaping up to be a breathtaking next couple of weeks.

These days, we are constantly hearing stories about athletes preparing for events since childhood—from basketball and swimming to wrestling and weight-lifting. These athletes have trained every single day for years, if not decades, to represent their country and win. In the process, they have overcome all sorts of adversity, such as COVID-19 or serious injury, to showcase their talents in Japan.

We can all learn from them. Their dedication is awesome. Their work ethic is exemplary. Their training—day in, day out—is worth replicating, even if only to a small degree.

Those who are serious about their professional careers need to think of themselves as Olympic athletes and train accordingly to keep an edge. Over the course of my 40-year career, I have tried to approach every day as a new challenge, treating PR like a world-renowned swimmer or wrestler treats athletics. I have failed along the way, like all athletes do, but those failures have translated to learning opportunities. And they have eventually translated to success.

Here are 10 ways to keep your professional edge:

  1. Sleep well: A good night’s rest is the foundation of all health, wellness, and mental clarity. An extra hour or two can make a substantial difference the following day, in terms of energy and preparedness.
  2. Diet right: Eating clean, whereby you focus on consuming whole foods with no unnecessary additives, will also boost your energy. You’ll feel healthier at work. Just don’t forget to cut back on alcohol, so you don’t consume extra calories. If a good night’s sleep clears your mind, a weekday hangover only fogs it up!
  3. Exercise your body: Get your body moving regularly, even if it’s just to take a 20-minute walk or go on a one-mile run. Regular exercise boosts your cardio and strength, while also clearing your mind for the day ahead.
  4. Exercise your mind: While most people focus on physical exercise, don’t neglect your brain. After all, your mind is your most powerful weapon. Daily activities like reading and meditation get you in the right headspace for creative thinking.
  5. It’s a team effort: To become successful, you can’t go it alone. Whether you’re relying on your business partners, employees, or even clients, collaboration gets much more done than a solo performance. Just like team athletes rely on each other to compete, you should look at your professional career like a collaborative effort.
  6. Prepare for adversity: A professional career is never just smooth sailing. For example, I have dealt with a variety of injuries from biking, skiing, and even walking, only to come out stronger on the other side. In 2017, I even received a total knee replacement, which made me more productive in the long run. Place a premium on your health care so you can face the challenges ahead.
  7. And prepare together: When I dealt with those injuries, I leaned on others to cover for me, since they knew that I would do the same. My employees were indispensable, so make sure to train and delegate to others, in case they need to step up to the plate unexpectedly.
  8. Listen to others: Whether you’re networking or working on a group project, listen to others. Don’t be that person who never stops talking. If athletes can listen to their coaches and teammates, so can you—even if it means accepting constructive criticism.
  9. Know how to win and lose: One day, you may lose a client. Perhaps you can’t finish the project on time. Don’t get too high when you’re performing well or too low when you’re not. Approach your professional career with an even-keeled mindset.
  10. One tree at a time: That’s how you need to see the forest. You need to approach challenges with a constructive plan, breaking it down into bite-sized chunks that can be easily digested over time. Brainstorm goals, strategies, and then tactics. The more patient your approach, the better your outcome will be.

But you know what’s the most important tip? Have fun along the way! Make sure to find time to laugh. Enjoy the process.

The journey of your career needs to be fun, or you’ll get burnt out. If all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, I try not to be a dull girl. The world’s best athletes will have fun at the Tokyo Olympics, we’ll have fun watching them, and you should have fun throughout your professional career.

Put a smile on your face. Life is much better that way.