New London Architecture

Tips on goal setting and mental health from an Olympian

Thursday 28 January 2021

Alex Kirker

Design Engineer
Waterman Group

With the pandemic reshaping everything from the world of work to our social and domestic lives, looking after our mental and physical health has never been more important. With this in mind, NLA’s NextGen virtual Christmas Party featured a special guest – British 100m Champion, Ojie Edoburun. 
Ojie, who is working in partnership with Waterman, joined the party to give the group some inspiration, discuss his career and offer the next generation of property industry professionals a few tips on staying motivated, healthy and setting goals during periods of uncertainty. 
Discussing how he’s had to adapt his goals during a constantly-changing season, Ojie said: “I know it’s been a tough year for everyone. I was gearing-up to compete for a place at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, but obviously that’s now changed and has totally altered what I can work towards this season. I’ve had to learn to be more adaptable in 2020, I guess we all have – but its sometimes difficult to stay focused when you don’t know how or when you can reach the end goal.”
Ojie’s top recommendation for people in any industry is to focus on the things you can control: “I’ve just been setting small, easy targets for every day that I can control myself. Just things like going to bed and getting up at the right times to make sure I rest properly and can get in some more training or getting on top of my meal prep so I’m eating healthily. This was really important when I was having to train on my own and helped me stay on track before I was allowed to form a bubble with my training partners and get back to work at Lea Valley Athletics Centre.” 
“Even when my motivation has dipped – which it has at times this year - I’ve fallen back on my basic discipline with routine, training and eating right and this helps me get in the right headspace again. I think that’s something everyone can do when it gets tough and you feel demotivated or frustrated because you can’t control wider things.”  
As our industry plots a course out of a choppy year, setting career and personal development goals has become increasingly difficult for everyone. Ojie offered his advice for adapting your professional targets when the goal posts are being shifted: “The thing that I’ve always come back to when I’ve had setbacks or haven’t achieved what I wanted in a season is to look at the positives. If you can look at it in perspective, you normally can find positives in what you’ve done. Maybe take the chance to see where you can make small changes and then start to plan for the next push towards achieving your goals. With a bit of patience, hard work is normally rewarded with success.” 
Inspired by Ojie’s advice, attendees spent some time in groups discussing some of the positive things which had come out of the pandemic for them. Many people highlighted how they were spending the extra time they’d gained from not commuting, which could now be put to good use attending virtual CPDs, socialising with their peers through online networking events, learning a new skill or exercising at home. Others had become more involved with their local community, with some joining support schemes to help-out vulnerable neighbours. 
What was clear is that, given the chance to reflect, most people found something positive to take from what was a very difficult year.
Watch the Christmas Party

Alex Kirker

Design Engineer
Waterman Group



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