The Cholesterol of Careers

The Cholesterol of Careers

A recent CareerBuilder survey of over 1,800 unemployed Americans found that an astonishing 89% of the respondents are ignoring the health of their careers. They seem blissfully unconcerned that today’s job market is the worst in almost a century and is likely to stay that way for years to come.

What are they doing?
•22 percent are spending more time with family and friends
•15 percent are fixing up their homes
•14 percent are exercising more
•11 percent are finally taking time to relax
•8 percent are volunteering
•7 percent are going back to school
•6 percent are becoming more involved in their church community
•4 percent are starting their own business
•4 percent are taking up new hobbies
•3 percent are traveling.

Most of these activities are clearly enjoyable. Who can complain about finally having a little time to relax, for example? For your career, however, these pursuits are enjoyable just like cream cheese and beefsteak. They’re great going down, but then wreck havoc on your occupational health. In fact, there’s a very real chance they will lead to career cardiac arrest or what most of us call terminal unemployment.

What’s the alternative?

Until someone invents a statin for careers, the only way to prevent endangering clogs in your workplace advancement is to practice healthy career habits. That’s the premise behind “career fitness.” It’s not some abstract concept for career self-management. It’s a concrete set of activities—a regimen of daily, weekly and monthly “exercises”—that will improve the strength, endurance and reach of your career.

Here’s a summary of the Career Fitness regimen:

I. Pump Up Your Cardiovascular System. The heart of your career is your occupational expertise. Re-imagine yourself as a work-in-progress so that you are always adding depth and tone to your knowledge and skill set.

II. Strengthen Your Circulatory System. The wider and deeper your network of contacts, the more visible you and your capabilities will be in the workplace. Make nurturing professional relationships a part of your business day.

III. Develop All of Your Muscle Groups. The greater your versatility in contributing your expertise at work, the broader the array of situations and assignments in which you can be employed. Develop ancillary skills that will give you more ways to apply your core expertise in the workplace.

IV. Increase Your Flexibility & Range of Motion. Moving from industry-to-industry, from one daily schedule to another or even from one location to another is never easy, but your willingness to adapt will help to keep your career moving forward.

V. Work With Winners. Working with successful organizations and coworkers enables you to grow on-the-job, develop useful connections that will last a career and establish yourself as a winner in the world of work.

VI. Stretch Your Soul. A healthy career not only serves you, it serves others, as well. A personal commitment to doing some of your best work as good works for your community, your country and/or your planet is the most invigorating form of work/life balance.

VII. Pace Yourself. A fulfilling and rewarding career depends upon your getting the rest and replenishment you need in order to do your best work every day you’re on-the-job. Discipline yourself and your boss to set aside time to recharge your passion and capacity for work.

You can read about how, when, where and how often to practice these healthy career exercises in my new book Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System. For information about the book and to order it, please click over to the bookstore on our site or visit

We all know two things about our physical well-being: we are personally responsible for our health, and we must work at staying healthy every single day. The same is true with our career. We are personally responsible for the health of our career, and we must work at it every single day … and especially when we are in transition.

Thanks for reading,
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