Setting Goals Isn’t Always Black & White

Driving back from work listening to a podcast, I found myself listening to one of my favorite quotes by Theodore Roosevelt, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”*. I found myself thinking how odd it that quote still holds up almost 100 years later, that people are too afraid to fail, so they don’t bother trying. In my mind this comes down to 2 reasons, either you are afraid to succeed or your complacent of where you are. This being said, there are thousand and one reasons beyond those that actually quantify what could/couldn’t drive that person. I posted a few weeks ago on instagram Dan John’s motivation** Square and the two differences.

I think He really hits the nail on the head of how you go about finding someone’s motivations. He talks about how everyone has a sort of tunnel vision, they see the positive or negative outcome of the result of doing a goal. Simply, the reward for completing a goal and the punishment for not completing a goal. Dan John takes it a step further by adding a positive and negative outcome to both. What will be the negative outcome if you do do your goal, what will be the positive if you don’t do your goal. We never really take the time to stop and think about those; if I don’t lose those 10 lbs my doctor wanted me to, then I’ll still be happy but stuck in the same health predicament, If I do lose those 10lbs, I’ll look and feel better but have to buy new clothes and be disciplined about exercise and nutrition. In that scenario, I’m pretty sure 99% of people will pick doing the goal when laid out like that. But most of those same 99% would also see it in black or white; if I complete the goal then good for me, if I don’t, oh well I’ll wait till next year, or next check up, or (insert procrastination excuse here). I’m not saying that your mindset should always be like this about everything, but make it like this for the goals that are important to YOU. Pick a goal, if it’s important lay it out in the box format, then for the next 6 weeks attack it. Just for 6 weeks, be a savage*** and attack that goal laying waste to any bad influences or excuses or doubts that cross your path. Then after that assess if it is working for you, how you are progressing towards your goal, and tweak if need be. You are the only one that can choose if you succeed or fail. So where will your place be, with the man in the arena or those cold and timid souls?

*Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”, 23 April, 1910
**Never Let Go, Dan John, 2009
***My favorite quote used by Dan Gabelman

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