Archive for February, 2011

Reaching Our Goals

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

I have a book of positive quotations that my mother gave to me a few years ago. For every day of the year there is a quote followed by some insight as to what you should take from it.  I read them every day and try to think about what they bring to my life or what I can learn from them.

Today’s quote is “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” After I read it I began to think about it. I tossed ideas back and forth until I finally looked the lion in the eye and entertained the thought. The more I thought about it the more I realized that it was true. I thought about the many goals I’ve had in life. Many of them were goals, but they were wishes because I didn’t really have a plan.

When I analyzed all of the goals that I’ve accomplished it was very easy for me to see that for each and every one of those goals I had created a plan and followed through until the end. About 10 years ago I wanted to write a book. I jotted some things down. I organized thoughts in my head and loosely laid out a plan. That was as far as that goal ever went.

Years later I was motivated and I created a true plan to reach my goal. I constructed my outline, set deadlines for parts of the project, purchased the things I needed to purchase and sought help in areas where I was inexperienced. As things progressed I knew that I would finish as long as I stuck to the plan. Some parts of the plan came together easily and other parts were a bear. The end result was extremely gratifying and somewhat humbling. I still don’t feel like I did anything special and I’m not sure that I ever will. A lot of people think that my accomplishment is a big deal. I haven’t had that type of feeling. I’m proud and all, but I feel like anyone could do it if they put their mind to it. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s how I feel.

I remember the thousands of arrows I shot when I was making my climb to the top in the archery world. I came up with a plan and stuck to it. I created a bunch of small steps to get better. I stood on each step until I had it mastered. Then, I climbed to the next step. The steps on the archery mountain seemed like they took forever to climb. A few times I lost my way but I stuck to the plan. Eventually I reached my goal and was able to compete at the highest level in national events where I was able to achieve success. My goal was reached through a lot of hard work. I got there because I had a plan from day one.

I’ve recently set a few new goals. I also have plans for these things. I’m making steady progress with one of my plans while the other one is on hold right now. The only reason it’s on hold is that I promised myself to see the first plan through before I jumped headfirst into the next one. If my health allows me to I know that I will achieve both of the goals that I have set.

I set my goals in order to keep moving forward. I don’t want to live a stagnant life where I’m “satisified.” I have an underlying desire to achieve better things. I don’t want to stop learning or moving forward. I want to keep my brain working and I want to keep myself motivated to do things that I didn’t think were possible.

A lot of people base their lives on material possessions. I do not base mine on anything material. I base my life on my mental well-being. If I am satisfied mentally I can live in a cardboard box without a mode of transportation and still be happy. I don’t need an elegant house, a fancy car or the best clothes to be satisfied. I try to surround myself with people who are similar to me in that respect. People who are mentally happy will have successful lives in the areas that matter the most. They will be fulfilled rather than seek fulfillment.

People who base their happiness on material gains are almost always unhappy with their day to day lives. They try to buy happiness with money. They seek acceptance by having things that portray themselves as being better than other people. While I like to have nice things I don’t feel that I need them to be considered successful. When they say that money is the root of all evil I firmly believe that.

I chase dreams just like the next person. I try to make my dreams realistic and simple. It only sets me up for failure if I chase dreams that have no chance of becoming a reality. When I choose to do something I usually give it everything that I have. I will not give up until I achieve my goal or I realize that there’s no way of getting where I want to go. Winners never quit and quitters never win. I’ve never quit in my life and there will never be a first time. If I go after something it’s because I believe that I can accomplish the task or make the dream a reality.

I have a few goals right now and a few dreams. I’m not sure if they might be one and the same. A long time ago I didn’t believe I would ever be blessed with an opportunity to chase a dream and achieve a goal at the same time. Something in my gut tells me that I might get the chance sometime in the future. It won’t be right away, but I think it’s a real possibility that the opportunity might present itself. If it does I will be ready to jump on the magic carpet and let it take me where I need to go. After all, when these things happen you have to be ready to take advantage before they pass by in the blink of an eye. It’s our job to recognize a potential opportunity, prepare ourselves mentally and jump on the chance when it appears.

At that point the ride will be worth the wait. All the struggles will slowly dissipate behind you and new doors will open in front of you. Being ready is the key. As the great John Wooden said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” I’m mentally prepared to chase my dreams.  I’ll leave you with another one of my favorite quotes which I will keep close to me  during my journey: “If you’re going after Moby Dick you might just as well bring the tartar sauce.”

I will be prepared and I will make sure of it. That is the only way that I can ensure that I will get the things that I want the most when the timing is right.

Being Proud and Giving Support

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

The sun set about an hour ago. The wind is howling and the temperatures have stayed in the low teens most of the day. The winter has gotten progressively worse since the first week of the year. It seems like we can’t get through a week without having to deal with some type of nuisance storm.

The last few weeks I have experienced things that I never imagined. Some of the things are good and others are bad. It intrigues me that the bad and good seem to equal each other out over time. I guess that’s what gives us balance in our lives. We need the bad times to appreciate the good ones.

I’ve spent a lot of time listening and talking lately. I’ve learned a great deal about myself as well as others. I’ve been immersed in conversations about everything from insignificant events to life-changing experiences. Amazingly I’ve been able to stay level both mentally and physically.

A few topics have come up that I wanted to address. I’m not sure why, but the topic centered around pride has surfaced many times in the last couple of months and once again today.

I spent a few hours this morning with a good friend of mine at his book signing. Unfortunately nobody showed up which was probably due to the fact that it was the second signing within a week. I’ve experienced the same thing. You never know what to expect when you’re having a book signing so you go with no expectations. That way if one person shows up it’s a success. Although we sometimes weigh our success by the people that show up there are often times that a successful day has many little things that made it that way.

Sometimes we have to give our friends an ear. We have to listen and give feedback at the same time. We have to let them know that we understand where they’re at. We have to give our advice and insight if we have anything that can compare to what they’re talking about so they know that they’re not alone. That’s why we call these people good friends. We know that they will be there for us when we need them. They don’t have to tell us, we just know.

When I wrote my book I knew how proud my parents and siblings were. I also knew how proud some of my friends were. It was a wonderful feeling. Through my growing years my parents always praised me for the things I did, whether it was hitting a home run in a baseball game or getting an A on a test. I knew they were proud and it filled me with confidence.

As I got older and settled into my adult life I kind of lost that type of feeling. I traveled all over the country shooting archery. I made friends from far and wide. I was lucky enough to win regional and state titles while getting national recognition. I was having fun doing it, but I was doing it all by myself. The only support I had was from my parents and immediate friends. I never received the support from the person that I needed it the most. It left me empty. I became self-conscious and lost a lot of my confidence. I felt like the things I did didn’t really matter. It made me question who I was as a person. I always thought I was a good guy and people told me that I was, but many days I really wondered if it was true. I tried to remain positive and stay focused. I pushed harder and harder, but the more I pushed the further the distance seemed to open up. Eventually I realized that I was all alone.

Since those days I’ve realized that there are many people who encounter the same type of thing. They all deal with it differently. I immersed myself into certain hobbies where I could mask what was going on and hide the loneliness that I felt. I accepted it and figured that’s just the way it was supposed to be. I always wanted someone by my side to pat me on the back when I was in the dumps after a bad performance. I wanted someone to make it all go away or make me forget about it by giving me attention and showing their support in other ways. I also wanted someone to share in the success that I was having. There’s nothing better than to listen to someone say good things about you. There’s nobody that doesn’t like that.

I’ve accomplished a lot in my life since that time. I’ve done things that I never imagined and I’m working on more things that I’m proud of. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever have what I always wanted. While I love my parents’ support I would also like it to come from somebody else. I want somebody to share all of the highs. People always comment about the things that I do and how “cool” it sounds. I go to book fairs and author nights throughout the region. I work at outdoor shows and participate in large archery events. I do all of these things alone.

Last summer I had to go to an author’s day at the Adirondack Reader in Inlet, NY. I headed out first thing in the morning by myself. I enjoy my own company so it wasn’t that big of a deal. It was a rainy, miserable day so I took my time getting there. There was a free lunch waiting for all of the authors and their wives or dates when they arrived. Being diabetic I brought my own lunch just to make sure I would be eating something that I liked. I wasn’t overly lonely on the ride there. I enjoyed the scenery and I entertained some of the thoughts that entered my mind.

When I got there I found the place that I was assigned to sit. I sat down, took my books out and got ready for the afternoon. I met a few nice people as I always do. When I glanced around I noticed that almost every author had a significant other with them. Some of these people went shopping in the small town of Inlet while the book fair took place. Others stayed and showed their support. Since there is a lot of down time it’s always nice to have someone to talk to just to help the time pass more quickly.

When I was done I packed up and headed home. That’s when it hit me. I was alone……….all alone. I briefly thought about how nice it would be to have someone with me on these excursions. We could stop for a picnic lunch. We could stop at an old rustic store on the way home. We could take the long way home just to see some breathtaking scenery. Then, I thought that maybe I was meant to do all of this stuff by myself. After all I do have some hobbies that would require a lot of patience from another person. Maybe it’s just the hobbies I have that are hard to support. I thought about if for a bit, but then I realized that my hobbies are what creates my character. You can’t change for other people. You can compromise, but you can’t quit doing the things you do because those are the things that clear your mind and give you internal peace.

It amazes me how many people can’t give the support that is needed. I would always want the person to know that my success was directly related to their support. When you have a partner who shows their support and helps you along the way you both succeed. When you both succeed it gives you a high that you can ride for a very long time.  I see it with a lot of my friends and my family  members so I know that it does exist.

I have a few author fairs scheduled for this coming summer. As always I will probably attend them alone. I can’t help but think how much fun it would be to have someone accompany me who could show their support and enjoy the entire process with me just because they were proud of me. I like to imagine it and visualize it because it seems like it would be one of the most uplifting experiences that a person could ever have.

Pride and optimism go hand in hand. Optimistic people seem to find their way through life a little better than pessimistic people. They make plans, have goals and try their hardest to succeed. They bring out the best in others, too. They might fail, but at least they’ll fail while trying. They won’t look at something and say “I can’t do that.”

I have to do a show next weekend. I’ll be there with my dad who is probably more proud of me than anyone could be. He has always been optimistic which in turn has led to his successful life.  My mother has always been proud of him just as he has been of her. They both show their support which has led to an awesome relationship and three well rounded children who are now adults. It’s unfortunate that this type of thing is so rare.

After everything I’ve experienced in life so far I’m pretty sure that there are very few people who can gel, give and take and compromise. It all starts with a mutual respect and the desire to see your partner succeed.  Although it does exist it’s a shame that so few people get to feel this type of pride and support.

It reminds me of chasing a rainbow. We all see rainbows throughout the summer, but how many of us ever have the courage to chase one with the hope of finding the gold pot at the end? Although it has been said that the gold pot is a myth I firmly believe that one exists. It’s our job to leave the dull, gray days behind us,  notice the rainbow when it appears and convince ourselves that the gold pot is waiting for us if we’re willing to go after it. Fear will hold many people back. The ones that aren’t held back will surely be thankful that they took the chance to step forward and follow their dreams. The gold pot is filled with support and pride if you can find it…………….or if it finds you. Don’t be afraid to gently pick it up, nurture it and start a new life.