Get All Access for $5/mo

5 Ways to Sustain a Long-Term Career Focus Make the decision to run a marathon and then prepare, run, recover and repeat the process several times over. Use these guidelines to stay focused on the big picture.

By Marty Fukuda

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You've heard the analogy: Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

But I believe life is more about consistent, long-term focus. It is about making the decision to run a marathon and then preparing, running, recovering and repeating the process several times over.

With this in mind, consider the main achievements you really want to accomplish during your career. Then use these guidelines to stay focused on the big picture while you tackle the many marathons that constitute life:

Related: The Smartest Long-Term Investment is You

1. Become a professional student.

I don't necessarily mean return to school for an MBA or doctorate. What I urge you to do is to consistently engage in the process of learning new things, both within and outside your chosen field.

Today's entrepreneurs live in an era when free and readily accessible information is at their fingertips -- more so than ever before. If knowledge is power, then it's what businesspeople need to achieve the professional goals found at the finish line.

2. Remember that mistakes are simply expensive tuition.

I have learned that wisdom comes from taking more from mistakes than what they take out of you. Replay mistakes? Yes. Obsess over them? No.

Look at mistakes as a very necessary part of your education -- another way to test your resolve and prepare you to succeed. In the book Great by Choice, author Jim Collins put it brilliantly: "Treat mistakes as expensive tuition; better get something out of it, learn everything you can, apply the learning, and then don't repeat."

3. Rely on the old-fashioned work ethic.

Every week headlines announce yet another tech company that sold for millions, leaving the former owners instantly rich. One could infer from news like this that luck or a single stroke of genius is the impetus for success.

But if you question these entrepreneurs about the real reasons, the phrase "hard work" will pop up in every answer, I'm willing to bet.

A strong work ethic has a way of leveling the playing field. Put in the hours and you'll be in the right place and luckier more often than those who don't. Remember that time doesn't discriminate. Everyone has the same number of hours in a day to work hard and move forward.

Related: The Real Person's Guide to Finding Your Passion and Loving What You Do

4. Work with a purpose.

There's work and then there's working with focus -- and the latter is always preferable. While you're involved in a project, the intent should be mastery of the task at hand.

Do I believe hundreds or thousands of hours of deliberate practice will always accomplish the impossible? No. But if you're in a field or business that you're passionate about and work with unbreakable focus, then more times than not you'll remain a step above the competition.

5. Weigh decisions with the long view in mind.

The battle between short-term versus long-term gratification has been waged for eons by the best and brightest.

It's captured in this everyday question: Should I eat this piece of cake or hit the gym? Devouring the sweet treat will undoubtedly make you feel better in the moment, but you know the gym is the better long-term decision.

When you confront these types of decisions (and you will, every day), always rely on long-range thinking to guide you.

Related: The 3 Decisions That Will Change Your Financial Life

Marty Fukuda

Chief Operating Officer of N2 Publishing

Chicago native Marty Fukuda is the chief operating officer of N2 Publishing, overseeing operations at its corporate headquarters in Wilmington, N.C. He first joined the company as an area director in 2008 after working in the direct sales and print industries. 

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

Some Car Dealerships Are Selling Cars the Old Fashioned Way Following Massive Cyberattack

CDK software services an estimated 15,000 dealerships in the U.S.

Business News

Jack Dorsey Says It Will Soon Be 'Impossible to Tell' if Deepfakes Are Real: 'Like You're in a Simulation'

Dorsey said we will "not know what is real and what is fake" in the next five to 10 years.

Business News

50 Cent Once Sued Taco Bell for $4 Million. Here's How the Fast-Food Giant Got on the Rapper's Bad Side.

The brand suggested that 50 Cent change his name to match its "Why Pay More?" value menu promotion prices. The rapper was not amused.

Business News

Mark Cuban's Google Account Was Hacked By 'Sophisticated' Bad Actors

The "Shark Tank" star said someone "called and said I had an intruder and spoofed [Google's] recovery methods."

Business News

Apple Is Working on Making Its $3,499 Vision Pro More Affordable — and Mainstream. Here's How.

Apple's product is at least three times more expensive than Meta's version.