Here we are…at the beginning of the year when all things seem possible. Goals and dreams are dancing in our heads and we convince ourselves that this year is going to be different. We think that we will learn from our past mistakes and follow-through, be more consistent and achieve whatever we set our hearts on. Or, some among us, have already simply given up thinking “New Year’s resolutions don’t really work for me.”
I’ve seen and set more New Year’s resolutions and annual goals than most, with mixed success over the years. I’d give myself a “B+” most years, but I’ve had some dismal failures and big wins as well.
Before I share what I’ve learned during my own trials and tribulations, I want to declare that my goals and dreams are bigger and bolder this year than they have ever been. And not just a little bigger! We’re talking GINORMOUS! Many of you know that I just turned 60 years bold. And I’m on a world record quest to do 60 ironman/full distance events this year – what I call Sixty@60. Only nine years ago, I did my first Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run) and thought it was a HUGE deal. And it was!
But I didn’t want this year to be just about me and my journey, although that could be enough. I wanted it to be a way for me to serve others. Earlier this week, we had MLK Day. One of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. is “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’” So the question that rattled and somersaulted in my brain for over a year was, “How do I use my Sixty@60” to serve others?”
I eventually came up with Live Your Bold! It’s a movement that I’ve started to provide FREE resources and training while building a community of like-minded, inspired folks who want to live their bold, whatever that might be. It’s interesting that as all this started to coalesce, it felt more like a calling than anything else in my life. For more details, check out www.liveyourbold.com.
I think one way we determine our path is to be still and listen. And then to step forward into our boldness with passion and resolve. I’ve carried around a Live Your Bold journal for about 18 months. And I write down notes and ideas daily to help me process, clarify, challenge and reshape what I want to do. Which reminds me of another wise quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. when he talks about taking the first step in faith, “You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” I don’t see my whole staircase yet. I’m still finding my way on this journey. But I am ready to take one step at a time.”
With that said, here are seven lessons that I am applying, and you can too, in order to make this year your BOLDEST ever.
Buck Conventional Wisdom – I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read about taking baby steps with your goals. In other words, the best way to achieve your goals is to make them manageable and comfortable for you (with perhaps a little stretching for good measure). While there is nothing wrong with this advice, I feel that most folks hold themselves back and don’t come close to living to their potential. And making baby steps become another way that we are complacent and living small. If my Sixty@60 demonstrates anything is that we are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. So instead of making small, incremental changes, perhaps you should think of shaking things up and going really big and BOLD.
You Must Believe – The immediate reaction I get when I tell someone about Sixty@60 is either an incredulous look or a flat out, “You’re crazy!” Perhaps I am…and I’m ok with that. But I’ve come to realize that their reaction is based on their “limiting” beliefs, not mine. They can’t believe it because it’s not something that they have wrapped their head around. And it’s not something that they have witnessed with someone else. I, on the other hand, have lived and breathed this dream for almost three years. I’ve conditioned and trained my mind and body. I’ve been inspired by people who have done other amazing and seemingly “unbelievable” things. So "I BELIEVE!" and for the sake of my goal, that's essential!
Build Your Resilience And Your Support Team – It was interesting when I got “brave” enough to start sharing my big “Sixty@60” dream with a select few people a couple of years ago. Of course, I went to some of my closest and dearest friends who, almost to a person, told me that I was crazy. And then proceeded to share their concerns. If I was easily discouraged, I would have been. And I could have tucked my tail between my legs and never spoken of this haunting dream again. Luckily, I’m not easily dissuaded when it comes to matters that I’m passionate about. And I had a couple of people who “got it.” They were supportive and inspired. And now, many of the folks that originally “poo-pooed” the idea are there to support me, convinced now that I can and will get this done.
Go Big Or Go Home – I realize everyone is different, but what has gotten me more fired up than anything with my Sixty@60 is stepping out of my comfort zone. I have always challenged myself and I feel more alive when I’m pushing limits in any area of life. When I did my first Ironman in 2009, I used another quote as a constant reminder of my path and why I was on it. “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough.” I’ve since used it as a litmus test to see if my goals and dreams are worthy. If they’re not, should I go bigger?
An interesting side note: when I was first thinking ahead to how to mark my 60th in a bold way, I thought of doing six Ironmans for the year. I happened to mention it to someone who immediately responded, “Oh…that’s what someone else did…” Hmmm…time to rethink. Not because I wanted to do more than the other guy (well, maybe…I’m very competitive), but because I realized that I was thinking smaller than I should be for me. There is something called the 10 x goal or the power of 10. Take your goal and multiply it by 10. Now your big goal becomes humongous!
The power of this approach is that it makes you rethink your whole approach. It’s stretches your brain and requires you to abandon conventional wisdom and your well-entrenched habits and shake things up. All of a sudden, doing things the same old way is no longer an option. You’re challenged and tested…and while that is scary as hell, it’s also exhilarating!
Stomp Out Self-Doubt – This one is tied to your beliefs and your thoughts and that voice in your head. As much as I believe, I still have to quiet the voices. The important thing, from my experience, is to acknowledge them but not let your negative thoughts get any legs. Sometimes your nagging thoughts are legitimate concerns that you need to fix or at least be aware of. For instance, I just finished #2 of 60 Ironmans a few days ago. I had completed my swim and bike and was at mile 17.2 (out of 26.2) on my run. I took in some nutrition, a couple of blocks and a swig of my sports drink. And I immediately started throwing up. It happened once and then again. And again…and again. Trust me, my first flashing thought was “Oh sh*t! This is not good.” I understood that with nine miles left to go, I may not have enough fuel in me to finish (dehydration-alert) or I could derail and miss my time cut-off, essentially making all my efforts of the day a moot point. There were other thoughts, processing and problem-solving, simultaneously flooding my brain. Instead of going into despair and potentially giving up, I went into “how do I fix this mode.” And that’s exactly what I did. And with any big goal, we’re going to have lots of times when we are tested like this.
Get It Done – With any big goal, there are highs and lows…moments when you’re cruising along on a high and other times when you feel stuck and second-guessing if you can figure it all out. That’s when you have to pull on that MLK quote and just take the “next step.” Often times, just being present and taking some action, any action is enough. With faith in your dream, fire in your belly and passion in your heart, you will have what you need to keep moving forward. I’ve said it many times before, understanding your “Why?” is critical. It drives you when obstacles clutter your path.
Focus On Recovery – One of the keys to me achieving my Sixty@60 world record is to give ample attention to recovery between my races/events. I need to push hard and then recover. And then repeat 59 more times. Recovery is when you step away from the hard work and do the things that take care of you. A big dream can be inspiring and sometimes all-consuming, but I learned a long time ago that life is more abundant and full when we have some balance. That means that we step away from the hard work and restore ourselves in other ways. Look for daily and weekly practices that gives you the proper self-care. You can’t give your BOLD goal your best if you’re not at your best.