When I was 15 years old, I attended a 14-day, intense wrestling camp. It was truly grueling: up at 5 am every morning to run, and 5 additional practices and running sessions each day, ending at 9 pm. Up until recently, I had always reflected on this toughness of this camp as a pivotal moment in my upbringing.
My thinking had always been: “if I can mentally and physically get through the hell they put us through, I can accomplish anything.”
Looking back, I can truly see where this camp had left a lasting impression on me occurred on day one. The counselors, at the behest of J Robinson (ex Army Ranger, head coach of the Minnesota Gophers wrestling team, and all around mad man), had us fill out a booklet that we had to write down 100 personal goals for ourselves over the next few days of camp. The booklet had a structure where you would write 3-month goals, 6-month goals, 1 year goals, 5 year goals, and 10 year goals. I remember filling this out and thinking how dumb this was; but as the camp had a point system in place to graduate, and you had to complete this goal sheet to get points, I struggled my way through it. There were the basic goals any 15-year-old boy would write down: get a girlfriend, lose my virginity, be rich, etc. etc. As I delved deeper into my assignment, I began seeing how my short term goals could help me accomplish my long term goals: e.g. if I get the girlfriend, this would significantly increase my chances of losing my virginity.
Needless to say, not all of my goals were so juvenile in nature.
About 4 years ago, I found this booklet. Nostalgically reading how my former self had thought, and the goals he had wanted to accomplish. As I got past the silly ones, I started to notice how many of the goals I had accomplished. Be a varsity wrestler: check. Win a District Tournament: Check. Win the regional tournament: check. Go to college: check. Wrestle in college: check. Own a car: check. Live on my Own: check. Own a company….Get rich…..Own an island….well I still had a few years to go.
When I came upon this booklet, I started thinking about how many goals I had accomplished, and seeing how each goal in the short term helped me accomplish the long-term goals. By winning districts, I was able to go to regionals. By winning regionals, I was scouted by colleges. By going to college, I was able to get a good job, providing me with an apartment and car. Seeing this connection made me realize how, by putting these ideas on paper, I was able to set key points in my work structure to achieve the longer term goals.
After making this profound connection (profound may not be the right word, but it is the only one that comes to mind *thanks Chuck Palahniuk) I began fresh, making a new booklet to map out my goals.
I began working backwards
Ten year goal: own enough real estate that my month recurring income would be enough to support my desired lifestyle. 5-year goal: Run my own construction company to finance purchase of property to build a multi family residential complex. 3 year goal: start a construction company. 2 year goal: Be at an upper management position in a construction firm to learn the ins and outs of running a company. 1 year goal: be successfully employed at a construction firm. 6-month goal: begin working at a construction company. I began immediately. Having these goals written down, I had realistic waypoints on my journey to achieving my dream.
So why do I share this personal information on this webpage? I truly believe that by writing these goals down, and breaking them down at a fundamental level in short term increments, I was able to keep an eye of my final dream, while still having achievable way points along the way to keep my satisfied.
I am currently in year 4, and just inked the deal on my first property, oh and I finally got that girlfriend, though I have given up on Britney Spears.
John Leinberger runs a small construction company in the DC area. He enjoys long walks on the beach, and the smell of rain.
Image Credit: www.pinkchocolatebreak.com