In 2001, I competed in the USMS Short Course Nationals. I trained seriously for more than five months in order to accomplish something I’d never done before: completing the 100-yard backstroke in under one minute.
As result of my training regimen, on the day of the event I felt in great shape and was totally confident that I could accomplish this personal milestone, but I finished at 1:01.05, about the time it takes to snap your fingers away from reaching my goal. However, I still managed to beat my personal best of 1:01.45, which I accomplished over fifteen years ago when I participated in competitive swimming on a regular basis.
Of course, I was a little disappointed by coming up short but, fortunately, I didn’t have time to even think about wallowing in the “agony of defeat” because I had to compete in four more events over the next couple of days. The good news is that by the end of the weekend, I swam in a total of five events and accomplished five lifetime bests. In baseball that’s called batting a thousand or getting a hit in every at bat.
If there’s a “dream job lesson” we can all glean from my experience it’s simply this: we may not reach every goal we are shooting for. But we can give our all not just at race or crunch time, but in the preparation itself. In this situation, I can rest easy knowing that I gave it my very best and even learned a few things along the way that to apply towards eventually reaching the one-minute mark.
This is what I refer to as positioning for success. It was an exciting time to have a goal so large that it propelled me through many months of rigorous training and invigorated me towards reaching something I have never done before. I know in the end that it was the time spent training and seeing my body and mental state become focused and geared towards the big event that proved to be my real reward.
No matter what goal you set for yourself or obstacle you face, growth is a daily grind composed of successes, failures, lost opportunities, progress, and change. Thinking it can be attained in one fell swoop is more often than not deceptive and results in a substantial loss of enjoyment from daily activities that comprise the journey from dream to reality.
At this same swim meet I met a person making a career change. Lawyer said to me, “I am great at swimming, but lack the commitment to making a career change.”