Achieving Your Goals Takes Time, Work and Unspectacular Preparation

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weightlifting
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Shawn Wolfe, of 611 ASUS, performs a squat while weightlifting after duty hours at the JBER-Elmendorf Fitness Center, Jan. 30, 2012. (Photo by Justin Connaher/Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs)

We all should have goals. No matter what your age, it’s healthy to have a positive outlook on the next 10 years as to where you want to be and what you want to become. Each long-term goal should include shorter-term goals that get you moving toward the big-goal achievement that’s in your heart.

No part of this journey is sexy. Instead, it’s riddled with hard work and long days and nights. Maybe you’ll have to put up with your current life and work situation until you can move toward something that really resonates with you. Sometimes, finding what you want to do in life is not that easy, either.

For all of you at a crossroads with decisions to make, here are some ways to help you work toward something that excites you and builds a better tomorrow one day at a time.

Finding Your Way

First, understand that you do not need to know today exactly what you want to do in the future, and nobody knows what is going to happen tomorrow. Do not get depressed if you do not have all the answers. No one does.

Second, take deep breaths, relax and allow yourself to explore any option that comes to mind. Finding your way also requires you to have some self-awareness. Realize what you enjoy doing or think about something that you have never done but find exciting and want to do. Making “bucket lists” is a good way to start on this road to better self-awareness. Try an internship and meet others in the careers that interest you to learn if that journey is right for you.

Third, do you have a “calling” to do something? Usually, these paths grab you, and soon you are directed by the energy that is calling out to you. Do you want to serve your country or community? Teach others? Help others? All of these are callings into professions that can start with military service. You also can stay local and serve your community in police, fire and EMT departments. They all give you experience and education opportunities that can help you become whatever you want a few years later, whether it’s being a teacher, doctor, coach or entrepreneur.

Goals Are a Journey and Not Necessarily a Destination

Just because you have achieved a certain level of success in your personal goals, that does not mean you are done. Countless options can appear on the horizon, but they usually mean you are learning something advanced or trying something new just to stay relevant in your chosen career path. The learning never stops because there are constant opportunities for growth inside and outside of your current position.

Change of Plans

I tell people who are preparing to graduate from high school or college that they do not have to have an answer today as to what they are going to do for the rest of their lives. In fact, if you do not change plans a few times over the years, you are not even trying.

Consider the career options you have thought about while growing up. Personally, I have gone from setting goals that included becoming a professional athlete (young pipe dream), policeman and military pilot before setting my sights on the Naval Academy. Then the future options continued to change. I went from planning to be a pilot to Marine to Navy SEAL. Once I got out of the Navy, there were dozens of options, including business school and medical school, before I found my true passion that blends fitness with writing.

Hard Work and Unspectacular Preparation

Your ultimate success and spectacular achievements are preceded by unspectacular preparation. Consistency and patience will allow you to develop the resilience and mental toughness that will allow you to handle stress and failures better. They also will teach durability, work capacity and discipline.

You build these skills daily by patiently moving toward a challenge. Logical progressions will give you the results in any journey, whether it’s athletic, academic, professional or personal. Building a better foundation for growth allows you to “up your game” to the levels that will be required along your journey to meet challenging goals. In the end, patience allows you to build confidence in your abilities through these stress inoculations during preparation. If you are not challenging yourself, you are not growing.

If you have a fitness goal, an academic goal, a professional goal or a goal that requires a high level of education and fitness, make today Day 1 instead of planning for “one day.” Figure out a five- to 10-year plan by researching the required steps to get you where you want to be in that time frame.

You will find that you can take multiple routes to achieve many goals. Some may be more conventional than others, and you may decide to select an unconventional path. In the end, all paths to a goal will include hard work, require consistent movement and make you stronger over time.

One thing is for sure: There are no tips, tricks, secrets or hacks to achieving these types of life goals. You have to put in the work. When you truly love the journey you are on, the work is much easier and more rewarding.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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