One of the most disappointing days of my life came immediately after accomplishing my greatest goal. I had just successfully completed the US Army’s Best Ranger Competition.
This multi-day, nonstop event is typically considered one of the world’s most challenging endurance competitions. After three consecutive years of training for this competition, my partner, Isaac Gmazel, and I won the 1996 competition.
The following morning was one of the most frustrating and confusing days of my life. I distinctly remember getting up early in the morning, shaving my face and preparing for a new day at work… and wondering what to do with the rest of my life.
I had devoted SO much of my time, energy, and focus toward this competition that when I finally won the event, I didn’t know what to do with myself next. This became a mini-crisis in my life. It was the moment that caused me to examine what I really wanted from life. In other words, smashing my greatest goal was both thrilling and traumatic at the same time.
In my most recent episode of Unbeatable, I had the privilege of interviewing Laura Okmin. This incredible woman has blazed a path through uncharted territory as a female reporter in the male-dominated sports industry. She has been wildly successful as a sports reporter and has also experienced that same sense of, “What do I do next?” along the way as she hit goal after goal. Here are a few tips to help you accomplish your goals from the Unbeatable Laura Okmin:
Set tough goals
Set tough, challenging goals for them to have any real satisfaction when you accomplish them. Think about it this way: You’re only cheating yourself if you set a goal that you already know you will be able to accomplish. Your goals can push you to greatness if you are willing to set great goals.
Often, it’s not accomplishing the goal itself that has the biggest impact on your life; it is the struggle and the difficulties you overcome along the way to that goal that will make the biggest difference in your life. Therefore, set big goals and then relentlessly pursue them!
Stay focused on your goals
Laura was a woman who could have easily given up along the way. The deck was stacked against her as a female reporting on the biggest sports events in an entirely male-dominated industry. What prompted Laura to continue to make the effort and eventually reach her goals was a focused determination.
There are going to be many little things in life that try to divert your attention away from your goal. Don’t fall for that trap. Stay focused! Stay disciplined! Stay the course! And you will start to gain traction and get closer to your goals.
Enjoy the view from the top
Don’t forget to take time to enjoy the satisfaction of hard work and accomplishment. I got up the next day after winning the Best Ranger Competition and soon after, started to focus my attention on the next goal. Looking back now, I realize that I didn’t spend as much time celebrating my accomplishment as I should have.
Sid Caesar once said, “In between goals is a thing called life, that has to be lived and enjoyed.” Don’t get so focused on pursuing your dreams and accomplishing the goals that you forget to live your life along the way. Accomplishing lofty goals is itself an incredible pleasure in life. But, don’t forget to take the time to enjoy the small victories on the way to the big goals.
Don’t let them define your worth
This brings me to the final piece of advice that I heard from Laura Okmin during the last episode of Unbeatable. I had to write down this brilliant statement when she challenged listeners to remember: “You never actually get ‘there’”. Laura defines ‘there’ as finding a deep sense of self-worth by accomplishing your goals.
While you are giving focused and determined effort toward reaching your goal, be careful that the goal doesn’t become bigger than intended. No amount of great achievement in life will ultimately satisfy your soul. You were created for something more than accomplishment and temporary success. You were created with intrinsic value because you were meant for a relationship with the Creator of the universe.
Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, pursued all the success and pleasure that the Roman Empire could provide him during his lifetime. He found it to leave him longing for something greater. During that period of intense longing, he discovered that your soul was created for God, and can find fulfillment only in him.
I hope you will learn from Laura Okmin how to enjoy the satisfaction of smashing your greatest goals, while at the same time, remembering that accomplishments, no matter how great, can’t satisfy your soul.