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"Outside the Box" Training

Monday Motivation 3/27/2006

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We all need 'em.  We have all set them.  We may be working towards them at the moment, but we may not all be using them effectively as a means of growth in our lives.  I am the type who tends to be driven by the desire to feel that sense of personal fulfillment that can only be attained when I tackle a goal.  At times, this personality trait has gotten the best of me.  I used to be very perfectionistic and extremely hard on myself.  I have learned to let go of most of that, fortunately, and have learned to relax a bit more.  Life isn't meant to be lived with constant stress and pressure.  Life is meant to be enjoyed.  This doesn't mean, however, that you cannot enjoy a life full of success.  What matters most is that you are setting goals for yourself that are realistic, attainable, and most importantly, those that come from the heart.
 
A few years ago, I thought I needed to become a doctor.  I worked my tail off pursuing a goal that I knew was not true to my heart.  I went back to school, took classes for which I studied diligently and in which I did very well.  I vowed that I could accept no grade lower than a B+.  I knew that my grades in the pre-med classes were up to par.  I thought I wanted to go into orthopaedics or plastics.  I could use my experience in working with all sorts of individuals, combined with my working knowledge of the human body, to help others (which is exactly why I enjoy being a fitness professional).  My family was so proud of me.  I was working towards a profession that is so respected...something to be truly proud of.  Why couldn't I just be proud of myself in general?  Maybe this was the answer.  In my heart I knew that this goal was not right...it was not going to happen...I was trying to live someone else's dream.  I knew I was intelligent and dedicated enough to survive med school, and that I could make an extremely compassionate doctor.  I aced the MCAT.  I still have the napkin on which my dad wrote "Sarah = 28; Other guys = 24," because the National average score was a 24 and I made a 28.  I had set a goal of making a 30, actually, so I was extremely happy with how I did.  I had succeeded in that step.  Perhaps I could make it?  Perhaps there was a chance I could get into the circle and make a difference.  I wanted to become a surgeon.  Look out...a woman surgeon in the midst of the "boy's club," as they say.  I wanted to show 'em that I would be the doctor with wonderful bedside manner...a doctor like Patch Adams, who made people laugh and brought so much joy to those who were sick and/or in pain. 
 
I thought I wanted to become a physician...I just wasn't meant to become one...fortunately the admissions boards realized this, as I didn't get any interview letters.  Was it a letdown?  Extremely so...I was crushed...my ego was shattered...and in my typical manner, I tried to play it off as if I was fine.  I had no backup plan.  I had set my sights on this goal with so much focus and intensity that I had no clue what I was going to do next. 
 
I don't view that stage in my life as failure.  I grew so much through the process of working so diligently, studying with 110% effort (and enjoying it, crazy as it sounds), and working towards a goal.  I was happy to come home from classes and work to sit down for a couple of hours, study, and then go to my MCAT prep class for several hours each weeknight.  When I got home from that class, i'd study a few more hours.  My life had a sole purpose at the time, but I was realizing a lot more about myself.  I realized that I could accomplish anything.  I realized that I had the drive and determination that could get me anywhere I wanted to go in my life.  With this being said, I have always believed that everything which we go through in life has meaning.  There is nothing we must endure that does not give us the gift of a lesson learned.  It is, however, our choice whether or not we learn and grow.  At the risk of repeating myself, this is the perfect opportunity to share with you a thought that was expressed to me by a client years and years ago.  I have never forgotten it...it goes something like this:
 
"Every situation we go through in life, good or bad, gives us a key.  This key is ours with which to unlock a door that will provide us with growth and the learning of something about our life.  It is our choice whether or not we unlock the door."
 
Having experienced many instances in my life which have brought me to this point, I can confidently say that had I not chosen to "unlock the door" more often than not, I may not be here today.  I truly believe that although I have made many mistakes, I have grown...I will continue to grow.  One must be tenacious in their pursuit of fulfillment and happiness.  You're going to encounter the inevitable snags along the way, but you must persist.
 
Goals...never stop setting them.  Make them realistic, attainable, and measurable.  Reward yourself for your progress.  Realize the growth you make...and don't forget to enjoy the journey you take in pursuit of the ultimate outcome.  Sometimes, the path you take towards reaching a goal holds more meaning and opportunity for growth than the actual attainment of the goal.