Ever wonder why people feel compelled to push for more? Why people obsess with chasing something seemingly impossible? Why few try so hard?
Let’s start by defining a goal. Webster’s defines a goal as the object of a person’s ambition or effort. But I don’t think this is an accurate depiction.
Goal: the object of a person’s ambition or effort
Ever since I can remember, I had goals. Without even knowing the definition of goal, or having an adult explanation, I knew. In kindergarten when anybody asked me that predictable question. “What do you want to be when you grow up little Tony?”
I looked the giant humans straight in the eyes and responded,
“I want to be President of the United States.”
Please forgive my innocence. I obviously didn’t know better (I was five.) I thought of the highest goal imaginable and I set my mark. I wanted to achieve something noteworthy. My upbringing was less than spectacular, and I didn’t know it yet, but dreaming proved instrumental in any achievement.
Struggle became quite familiar. Our broken family crippled by financial problems. I would close my little eyes and imagine a better life. A life where my mom didn’t need food stamps, a life where we didn’t need to ride the bus, and a life where Santa didn’t skip our house.
It killed me to watch my mom struggle. I asked the giant humans for help. The adults preached education. But, I didn’t need an education, I needed rent money. The giants explained education would earn a scholarship to graduate from college, get a job, and then get money. And then get money. It seemed so long, but okay. I figured if I went to school every day, this would help my goal of graduating college. My very first goal was set: perfect attendance.
As I stood receiving my first award for perfect attendance from kindergarten to eighth grade, I remember my pride. I stood 10 feet tall that day. Every year Jack in the Box would give the perfect attendance recepients a coupon for a meal (a brilliantly sly marketing move.) It was the only time I could afford Jack in the Box. I felt like I needed the finest silverware for my cheeseburger combo. I sat like a young prince, ready to eat my well-earned meal.
Over the years, my goals evolved. Graduate college, move out of the hood, help my mom, and start my own company. I’m proud to say, Total Body Project has helped hundreds enhance their lives. Our recent goals consist of our first fitness device, a new personal training course, and a new pregnancy book.
But life is meant to be abundant. Goals must be both professional and personal. Enter the Ironman Triathlon. Most of you are aware of my ability to make drowning look like swimming. The invisible pools in the hood forged my swim stroke to look identical to Michael Phelp’s…puppy.
After I almost drowned in a 47-minute half-mile ocean swim. The Ironman Triathlon (2.4 miles of swimming, followed by 112 of biking and then a 26.2-mile run) seemed like a logical choice. When I told people about this goal, some laughed. But laughing at my goals doesn’t anger me, it inspires me. Laughter represents the right direction for my goals. They laughed when I started my own company. People questioned my reason for leaving engineering. Others are surprised when they learn of my Economics degree. Some even asked who wrote my books. When people laugh, I know I’m on the right track.
Even when I told Robert, my best friend, after we tanked the marathon at Long Beach. “Hey next year, I think we can run under 3 hours and qualify for Boston.” He thought I was delirious.
In 2016, Robert and I crossed the Boston Marathon with my biggest laugh yet.
For the past 6 years, I’ve worked tirelessly for my yearly Ironman competition. With only one goal in mind: qualification to the World Championships in Kona. I’ve recorded hundreds of hours of workouts, runs, swim drills, and cycling. I’ve watched my sleep, scrutinized my diet and did everything imaginable in preparation.
In one word, the Ironman is brutal. Six times I have stepped to the start line, and six times I got smashed by a train. Last year at Ironman Santa Rosa, I had the best Ironman to date. I had a poor swim, deciding to change my swim style slowed me down. I turned in my best bike leg ever and completed the marathon under 4 hours.
And I finished in … 37th place?
Nobody talks about 37th place. I needed one of the top 3 spots. I needed to be 2 hours faster. Two hours faster? I’ve worked as hard as I could, and I still need two hours?
As I threw up in the medical tent, after my best performance to date. I thought about quitting. It broke my heart. Maybe this goal is too much. Maybe I’m not meant to be at the start line in Kona. Maybe this dream is too big.
Maybe this is exactly what I need.
A goal so big, so big, that reaching it would yield incredible fulfillment. A goal so big, it requires not hours, not days, not months, but years. Years committed to bettering myself.
This is exactly what I need.
This Sunday I take another step as I compete in Puerto Rico in a Half-Ironman event.
1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run all under 5 hours.
If everything goes right, it will be the toughest and most rewarding 5 hours ever.
If everything goes right…
In response to Webster’s, goals are the driving force delivering passion to our lives. Without goals, you cannot have passion. Without passion, life is not worth living.
Without passion, life is not worth living.
I know my goal. Do you know yours?