Yeah, I know. Goals. You've heard. You know. Right?
So why do why do so few stick to the ones they set for themselves? Life coach Brian Tracy says the four main excuses people make as to why they don’t have goals (especially written ones) are:
- They didn’t realize the importance of goals
- They didn’t know how to write goals
- Afraid of failure
- Fear of rejection
I can speak only of my own experience, but for me, and in my past, I threw my goals (especially writing them down) overboard because I was afraid of failing.
For over a decade, from the age of 8 until 21, all I thought about, worked towards, and dreamed about was playing in the NFL. And guess what? I did it. Here's how:
- I knew exactly what I wanted and rehearsed it in my mind every day
- I had an extremely powerful answer to why I wanted it that drove me
- Every day I would write down my goal and three things I could do to get me a step closer to it
Yes. I did this. For over 10 years. And I wasn't always the most talented athlete, especially when I finally arrived in the NFL and played alongside guys like Drew Brees, Ladanian Tomlinson, and Jerry Rice.
Once I arrived, though, I quickly realized I hadn't made any other goals for myself. Just making it was all I focused on for all those years. And by the time I tried to make more goals for myself - top 3 receiver on the team, out hustling everyone, catching every ball thrown to me - it was too late. My psychology wasn't strong enough too take the mental (and physical) beatings I took as a guy on the cusp of every team I played for.
Cue self destructive habits - doubting the physical ability that got me there, of my intelligence to remember phone book sized playbooks. The truth of the matter? I was physically capable. I was intelligent enough. But the map I had created for myself only took me as far as a few steps past the gates of the NFL. It was a blank piece of paper after that. And that terrified me.
Cut to life after football. Two-yeas post NFL I pulled myself out of a very depressed state through the help of yoga and meditation and attempted to set goals for myself once again. I started writing music and short stories about my NFL experience. I attended an acting class and started modeling. But every time I got close to any semblance of success in any of those worlds, I turned my focus towards something else entirely. Like self destructive relationships or lawn bowling or fishing. Yes. I really lawn bowled.
But why? At the time I simply didn't realize I was doing these things. Now having some perspective at 36, I understand clearly: I was afraid of failing, again. Even though I had made my dream of making the NFL come true I still, l considered myself a failure because I believed I hadn't live up to the expectations my family and friends, and strangers even. The reality was and still is, however, that those people just want me to be happy.
Once this light bulb went off I buried myself in books on self-help, productivity, and effective daily habits. I built my psychology back up to an unshakeable level through specific exercises and rituals (sign up for my newsletter to get a free pdf of some those habits) and haven't looked back since.
How I set up and achieve my goals has become something I love doing instead of dreading. Below is an example of how I accomplished writing my memoir, The Fifth Down. I mapped out the goal and didn't get bogged down with the, "How the hell am I going to do this!?" I started with a clear vision on what I wanted. Then asked myself why I wanted it. And it was only after I gave myself a powerful enough 'why' was I able to come up with the how.
- What: I'm will write a memoir about my experience in and out of the NFL .
- Why: I believe sharing my story may help others who've had similar life experiences. I want to show my wife and daughter that I finish what I start. I want to finally let go of that portion of my life.
- How: Write 500-1000 words every day. Read at least 30 minutes every day, books that inspire me. Gym and yoga five days a week.
At the end of each week I'd track my progress. Did I accomplish what I had set out to that week? If not, how could I improve? If I needed to adjust I change my daily 'how's'. I gained massive momentum by doing this. The writing process can take time, especially when the story is about your life. I had a few moments where I stepped away from this project, but am really happy I came back and ultimately finished it.
In the end, though, it's not so much about accomplishing the goal that matters. It's what the journey makes of us as a person.