Would you embark upon a journey across the United States without some sort of map; whether that map be a time-weathered Rand McNally Atlas, or a highly complicated “real time” GPS? Personally, I would prefer to have some sort of backbone of direction upon which my road trip could lie.
I believe that having some form of direction is not only nice to have, but a necessity to navigating my way in this world; which brings me to my point. I believe that setting goals, both personal and professional, are of the utmost importance. Without these so-called “roadmaps” to life, I would find myself moving passionlessly from task to task. Despite the cliché, I believe in these roadmaps from the core of my being.
When I was young, my parents signed me up for every possible activity a child could do. From soccer to swimming and the list could continue. Then, at the age of five years, I looked up at my parents and said “ Mom, I only want to swim.” I was tired of bouncing from activity to activity, and had found my passion. As that passion developed into a talent, I began to see how valuable goals were, and not only in my swimming. The beginning of each swim season brought with it an excitement filled evening of carbohydrate loading and goal setting. My coach and my parents were helping me to learn how to set my goals. They helped me to understand the necessity of being realistic.
I recall one swim season in particular, my sophomore year of high school, the fall of 2000; I chose to swim with the valiant Washington Warrior swim team. Two weeks prior to the start of the season, I opened up my calendar to early November. My event all along had been the 100-yard butterfly, and I was certain that is what I would be swimming for high school season. On November 2nd, on my calendar, I wrote “59.86.” What I had written was to become my end of season goal time. From that point forward, I thought about “59.86” every time I practiced butterfly, and every time we visualized our races. For three months, I focused my energies on training with the end in mind, continually visualizing how my race would feel when I went “59.86.” The day of our Districts arrived, and excitement is a muted explanation for what I was feeling. Pre-race jitters grabbed my stomach as I stepped behind the starting blocks. As I dove into the water, my body went on autopilot; I had visualized this moment down to every minute detail. When I hit the touch pad to finish my race, I heard screams and cheers of excitement. Pulling my goggles off my face, I could hardly breathe, but I ignored the pain in my lungs to strain to look up at the scoreboard. Lane three, first place, with a time of 59.86. I gasped with pure shock, I went the exact time that I had written on my calendar three months ago. The cheers turned into a roar, which accumulated in tears on my face. I had just set a new school record that is still standing today. Climbing out of the pool, I could not stop smiling as I ran over to my coach.
The course of events that occurred that season was a testimony to the lifelong teaching of my parents, and a culmination of my eyes and heart being completely opened to the possibilities within human potential.
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