I took the selfie above after a lunch hour workout today. I am usually filled with joy after exercise, it resets me and energizes me.

When I meet people who have just experienced job loss, I give four pieces of advice.

  1. Be kind to yourself
  2. Find your support people, you’re going to need them
  3. How you leave today is how you’ll be remembered
  4. Get some exercise

They are all important, but I am especially passionate about the fourth point — get some exercise.

Physical activity is the most important Career Development tool available to you. It doesn’t even need to cost you any money, simply go out and walk.

Our careers can be seen as something cerebral, as something that happens in our heads, especially as more value is placed on “knowledge workers.” However, our bodies are there the entire time and our careers are an embodied experience. When you forget to use your body, you start to drag an unenergized piece of you everywhere you go and it affects your work. It impacts your ability to handle stress, focus, carry energy and live a good life.

Start slow. Exercise three times a week.

If you are content in your current role, try incorporating three exercise sessions a week into your life and see the difference it makes. It could be a lunch hour walk, a streamed yoga video one evening or a weekend cycling trip.

Exercise does not just result in physical body changes, it shows up in how we move, in the attention we give things, and in the patience we show others. This sets you up to contribute even more positively to your job, and people notice. You offer a healthier presence to your work.

If you are thinking about switching jobs or currently looking, then get active now. The feeling of going for a long walk, a morning swim or a short HIIT workout at lunch can help give you the confidence to put yourself out there more. It is your body that shows up at the interview.

Feeling frustrated? Walk it off.

When I am stuck for an idea, or frustrated with a project, I go for a walk or do a yoga sequence. For the last 15 years, I have walked or biked to work (ranging in times from 30 minutes to one hour) because movement helps bring clarity to the big questions. I am a better contributor and more present when I have moved.

It is not about what the body looks like.

This is not about weight loss or perfect bodies; it is about working with your whole self. Many of my clients come to me after a decade of work in jobs they do not like. One question I ask is, “how does your body feel when you are doing work you love?” This question stumps them, one client recently said, “You know, I think I forgot I have a body.” We all have bodies. Bodies are made to be moved. They are built for motion.

I experience the most success when I incorporate movement into my daily life. Exercise accompanies every major life change — sometimes yoga, sometimes cycling, often it is running. When your body gets used to being active, it sends a message to the rest of you that says, “Hey, what else can I take action on?” and this is where I see careers blooming. Careers do not grow when you spend hours scrunching your neck over job ads, or eating at your desk when your legs really need to move. Careers grow when you bring your whole self to the table, even your body.

Last fall, I ran my first 10 km race and beat my personal record. Not only did I feel stronger and faster, it gave me the time and confidence to put myself out here as a coach. Before, I doubted my expertise and felt I needed to get yet another certification, despite having great results with the word-of-mouth clients I was getting. Running and exercising helped me to stretch and see myself as a stronger, smarter person. I carry this into all the work I do.

Get active. You were made for it.

Kerri Twigg

Career Coach | Mindfulness and Stories Training for Career Contentment

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