New Year Jump-Start: Sprint or Marathon?

New YearJump-Start: Sprint or Marathon?

marathon finish line

Photo credit: Getty images

Are you a marathoner or a sprinter? Marathoners prepare for the long haul. Business leaders with a marathon mindset develop systems and processes to ensure steady and consistent forward motion over the long term.

In contrast, sprinters dive right in, making swift and significant headway – though sometimes inconsistently or without the momentum to go the distance. Business sprinters engage in activities with great passion and energy, but their pace is not always sustainable.

Though we have a natural tendency towards one style or the other, most of us have periods of marathon behavior and periods of sprinting. While each has its merits, the optimal business development approach is to use a mix of both styles to ensure consistent and swift progress.

As a more natural marathoner, my inclination is to plan and move forward systematically. But when inspiration strikes, I do indeed sprint, and find the experience — along with the evidence of swift progress — exhilarating. To facilitate the freedom and “head rush” that accompanies a sprint, I create an enabling environment, carving out opportunities with (you guessed it) planning tools.

Can you become a marathon sprinter?

As we reflect on the year coming to an end and anticipate the new one, we can increase short-term effectiveness and assure ongoing momentum by actively managing the balance of sprints and marathons. The tips below can help you grow toward becoming a marathon sprinter.

Pacing for a marathon

New business leaders often begin blogging with zeal, passionately pouring out wisdom and perspectives that have been percolating, patiently waiting for a creative outlet. Initially posting nearly every day, this sprinting behavior gets sidelined when other priorities take precedence or natural energy wanes; the blogging cadence dwindles or even stops altogether.

Similarly, social media can be like a magnet. With real-time responses, it provides immediate gratification, and it’s common to jump in with both feet, posting and sharing with unbridled abandon. The danger here is creating an expected cadence that’s not sustainable, while also not adhering to the unwritten social behavior of “paying it forward” rather than self-promotion.

As a natural sprinter, try the strategies below to harness your creative energy and enable a pace that can endure. In contrast, if you’re a marathoner, these approaches will provide the structure you need to support a periodic creative sprint.

  • An editorial calendar offers a framework and schedule to spur the writing process, making consistent content publication more manageable. 
  • Evergreen blog posts may be used maintain content marketing cadence when “life happens” … a busy season, urgent demands or whatever curve ball is thrown your way.
  • Social media planning tools like Hootsuite offer a single dashboard to oversee your active accounts, ensuring purposeful posting, cadence and social engagement.

Capitalizing on inspiration (sprinting)

While marathoners plan for the long term, the focus on process can cause habitual behavior that’s not always effective. Be wary of going through the motions, rather than being purposeful and intentional in assessing which tasks are most important to reaching your goals. In the new year, keep honest with a business coach, board of advisers or inner circle.

  • An inner circle of trusted allies can be a source of honest feedback and proven advice, helping you move past roadblocks or create processes to grow toward your vision.

Whether you’re a natural sprinter or marathoner, ensure the upcoming year is your best one yet by maintaining focus on tasks that are most critical to achieving your goals.

  • Resist distraction and adhere to top priorities by following advice from productivity experts. Their common thread is to narrow your attention to focus on the items of most importance to you and your business.

Capture the head rush of your sprinting, and make it endure long-term with some marathon planning. Become a marathon sprinter in the new year.


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