How I’m Achieving My Goals In Life — And How You Can, Too!

If you think writing 50,000 words in a month is hard, try writing 13,000 in a single day.  That is the challenge I faced last year on November 30th.  How I responded to that is how I’m learning to achieve my goals in life — and it’s a secret you can use too!

But before I get to that, I want to tell you a story.


What challenges do you face?

On January 3, 1993, the Buffalo Bills played the Houston Oilers at Rich Stadium.  The Oilers felt pretty good, going into halftime leading 28 to 3.  Early in the second half, Bubba McDowell caught a ball off of a deflection and ran it 58 yards for a touchdown.  With a 35 point lead, everyone thought the game was all but over and that the Oilers would be moving on to the next playoff game.

Not so fast.

The Bills found themselves in good field position after the ensuing kickoff.  With 10 plays, they scored.  After recovering an onside kick, the Bills took 4 plays to score again.  They forced the Oilers to  punt the ball and had good field position again.  A few plays later, another touchdown.  An interception led to a fourth touchdown for the Bills.  In just a few minutes, the Bills had cut the lead down to 4 points.

The Oilers fared a little better in the fourth quarter, but they still allowed another touchdown.  All they managed to do, though, was to score a field goal of their own.  At the end of regulation, the two teams were tied.

The Oilers received the ball to start overtime, but the Bills intercepted a pass, and with a facemask penalty, were easily in field goal range.  After running a couple of plays, the Bills kicked a field goal and won the game.  The Bills went on to play in the Superbowl against the Dallas Cowboys.

What does this have to do with writing 50,000 words in a month or even 10,words in a day?  And more importantly, how does this help me reach my goals?  Easy.

detourPersistence.

The people who reach their goals keep trying to reach their goal in spite of all the obstacles that they face.  When they face challenges, they keep going.  They don’t give up.

Last week, I brought up using a map.  In case you missed it, I said that if you want to get from New York to Los Angelos, it’s great to have a map, but for it to do you any good, you have to actually get in the car and go.  In other words, you have to take action on your goals to get anywhere.

Now, let’s say you were talking this trip and you had a meeting you needed to get there, but you had a week before that meeting. (Maybe you just felt like a road trip, which is why you drove it instead of flying, because you wanted to see some of the country.)  If you got to Las Vegas, and discovered that the road you had planned to take was closed, would you turn around and go home?  NO!  Most likely, you would just take a detour.  But even if it wasn’t marked, you would find another way to get there.

Would you believe that most people do that with their own goals?  That they stop and give up?  In fact, many give up before they even get in the car!  Of those that get in the car, many of them would give up hitting that block at the equivalent of Newark, New Jersey when they have a week to get there!

When I faced the challenge last year of writing 13,000 words in a single day, I just focused on what I could do in the next 15 minutes over and over again.  Reaching the goal was easy when I did it that way.

Now, I’ll admit that there are times when giving up might be the thing to do.  Like when you realize that the goal you are pursuing is not what you really want to pursue.  But these are the exception, rather than the rule.

Did you know that most people who found success found it just past a defeat?

You’ve heard the story of the tortoise and the hare, right?  The two were in a race.  At the beginning of the race, the hare took off like a shot.  Soon, he had left the tortoise far behind.  He grew tired and decided to take a nap.  After all, it would be a long time before the tortoise caught up to him.  He would have plenty of time to win the race.  But that hare napped so long that the tortoise passed him.  Because the tortoise kept on going, despite certain defeat, he overtook the hare.  By the time the hare woke up, the tortoise was already crossing the finish line.  Now, we all know that the moral of this story is “slow and steady wins the race,”, but what if the tortoise had given up after the hare got off to such a big start?  We wouldn’t be talking about this story, would we?

So the next time you are faced with a challenge, keep going.  If you get knocked down, get up.  As Les Brown says, “If I can look up, I can get up!”  So get up!  Follow me!  I’m achieving my goals in life.  Come join me!

How has persistence helped you to reach a goal?  Have you seen others give up around you when they were closer than they realized or had more time than they thought?   Share your thoughts in the comments below!

26 comments… add one

  • Kim October 17, 2011, 10:29 am

    I want to write that I love this article. However, you told a story of the Oilers losing. And, since I’m from Houston, I can’t fully love the story. :) So, I officially love it other than they sports analogy. How’s that? I read a quote recently that I love. I feel like it falls in line with the point you are making…

    Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent. -Marilyn vos Savant

    Thanks for the post!

    Reply
  • Grady Pruitt October 17, 2011, 10:47 am

    Wow.. Must have been visiting this site at just the right time, since I just barely posted this :D

    I know… it pains me to tell of the defeat of a Texas team (though I ‘m a bit more partial to the Cowboys, I still root for Houston… Unless they’re playing Dallas, of course). But it was one of the most memorable instances of persistence I could think of, which is why I used it.

    That quote is exactly the point I was making. You are never truly defeated until you give up. And unless you’re giving up because you are not chasing a goal that is in alignment with what you really desire, you should always keep trying.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Reply
  • Tom Shivers October 17, 2011, 2:23 pm

    Grady,
    Great post and inspiring. Sometimes the most challenging times to give up are incredible opportunities if we stick to our guns. By the way, if you need another football example other than the Oilers vs the Bills there’s the Auburn Tigers vs. Alabama in 2010 – down 24 to 0 at one point and came back to win 28 to 27 on the way to a national championship… War Eagle!
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  • Grady Pruitt October 17, 2011, 3:32 pm

    Absolutely, Tom! Just because we;re behind is no reason to give up. Sometimes, when we are at our lowest, we learn the lesson that will help us to soar.

    Thanks for your comments!

    Reply
  • Bryce Christiansen October 17, 2011, 2:38 pm

    Really liked the videos. Thanks for sharing the stories with us. It makes the goal setting techniques feel more realistic. I can visualize how to apply them and what to expect.

    Thanks,

    Bryce
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  • Grady Pruitt October 17, 2011, 3:37 pm

    Thanks Bryce… Didn’t realize that one was so long, but it’s mainly the second half (or close to it) that’s the important part for my point. Thanks for your comments!

    Reply
  • Chris Barba October 17, 2011, 2:39 pm

    “The people who reach their goals keep trying to reach their goal in spite of all the obstacles that they face. When they face challenges, they keep going. They don’t give up.”

    That is awesome right there Grady. This is an exceptionally inspirational article. My newest source of resilience has been my challenge in training for my first Marathon.

    Failure breeds success. Especially the outstanding and extraordinary success. Fail and give up and just as you said about the tortoise and the hare, no one would be telling that story. But fail and persevere, well now we’re talking about something else entirely.

    Great post Grady.

    Reply
  • Grady Pruitt October 17, 2011, 3:56 pm

    Chris,

    That is exactly it. I see so many in doing NaNoWriMo who write 1000 words in the first two days — and give up! I see people write 10,000 words in the first week, and give up. I see people at the halfway point with less than 20,000 words, who give up. But I also have seen stories of people who wrote their novel (or at least part of it) while in the hospital and won. One lady a couple of years ago was deployed in Iraq and was no where near a computer with internet access to verify whose novel went through a war zone (literally) and won. People who haven’t even started going into the last week have won. And I was not the only one that came from 10K+ behind to win last year — there was a whole thread of 5 or 6 others in the same boat I was that went through that writing marathon and won.

    If we would learn to hold onto our dreams, no matter what, and pursue them with everything we got, we’d find out we’re able to blast through the obstacles. Failure is only temporary setback until we give up. When Edison was asked why he failed 1000 times before he found the way to do the light,bulb, he replied that he hadn’t failed, merely found 1000 ways it didn’t work. In other words, feedback.

    You can reach your dreams. Reach out and grab it. And you will have success.

    Good luck with your marathon! You can do it!

    Reply
  • Brock Blohm October 17, 2011, 10:19 pm

    First off, you are right! Persistence. The tortoise and the hare. Keep focused on the small steps. Keep implementing.

    Secondly, wicked football game. I’m not a big sports fan, but that sounds like quite the come-back!

    Thirdly, 13,000 words in a day; you’re nuts. Just sayin’ :)
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  • Grady Pruitt October 17, 2011, 11:19 pm

    Brock, it’s really my own fault I had that many on the last day because I had too many days that I “skipped” writing anything at all. If I had simply kept at the 1667 word pace, I would never have gotten far enough behind to have needed 13k on the last day. As it was, it was either write 13K or quit… and at that point, quitting was not an option. Although I hadn’t done 13K in a single day before (prior to that point), I did have a couple of 10+K days under my belt, so I knew it could be done. The belief that I could do it was there.

    That game was an awesome comeback. Although I don’t really remember watching the game itself, I do remember keeping tabs on it, and was shocked when Houston lost after having that huge lead.

    Thanks for your comments!

    Reply
  • Rachel Lavern October 17, 2011, 10:27 pm

    Hi Grady,

    I like to say that having faith and being persistent is key to reaching goals. Faith is one of the most powerful positive emotions and can remove limiting beliefs. Persistence is the sustained effort necessary to induce faith. Lack of persistence and the habit of quitting when temporary defeat is encountered are the most common reasons for failure. Thomas Edison was successful because he did not quit even though he “failed” 10,000 times before he successfully invented the light bulb.
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  • Grady Pruitt October 17, 2011, 11:21 pm

    Right, Rachel! That is something I keep trying to get those who take part in NaNoWriMo to understand. As long as you have faith that you will reach the 50K, even if you don’t know fully how you will get there, you can reach the goal.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Reply
  • Chris Antonelli@Ashburn va mls October 17, 2011, 11:46 pm

    I like both stories especially the one on the tortoise and the hare. At times it is not that we are the best in what we do but that we are ready to persevere and give our best. Giving up is the worst things anyone can do in this life. There are so many challenges each day but once we set our minds on doing something then we should make sure we finish the race and give our best.

    Reply
  • Grady Pruitt October 18, 2011, 1:04 am

    Giving up for the wrong reasons, I agree, is the worst thing you can do. As I said, giving up because you realize that the goal is no longer something you desire to pursue because you realize it is in conflict with something you desire more is one thing. Giving up because it’s difficult or any other reason is a different matter.

    Thanks for your comment, Chris!

    Reply
  • david@cheapfencing October 18, 2011, 4:24 am

    Yes, I agree that persistence is the main key for success, many people give up too early and do not try hard enough.
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  • Grady Pruitt October 19, 2011, 1:49 pm

    I see that happen all the time in NaNo in the first two weeks when there is still more than enough time to finish. Thanks for stopping by, David!

    Reply
  • Justin@Personal Growth October 19, 2011, 6:04 am

    Hi Grady,

    It was weird seeing the word Houston Oilers. I keep thinking back to when Warren Moon QB’d for them. I gotta agree with you here. Persistence will always get us to our destination. As long as we follow our map and know our outcome then we will get there.
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  • Grady Pruitt October 19, 2011, 1:55 pm

    Actually, Justin, that was a Warren Moon game I described. One of the best quarterbacks to play the game but never even appear in a Superbowl.

    That’s right. Keep your eye on the outcome and keep working toward it, and you will get there. Thanks for your comment!

    Reply
  • Marcelina Hardy October 20, 2011, 3:41 pm

    Awesome post. I always tell myself that if I give up then I reay am a failure. If I keep going I am not a failure yet. LOL So persistence is the only way not to fail and be labeled as a failure. I can’t say I have ever stopped trying at something because I have but it’s always when I shift gears so it’s not that I completely stop I just change direction. I may be fooling myself but it works for me and it takes me I the direction I want to go.
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  • Grady Pruitt October 22, 2011, 12:37 am

    That is so right, Marcelina! I saw a Chinese proverb that says it best: “Get knocked down 7 times, get up 8.” In other words, to be a success, you just need to get up one more time than you’ve been knocked down.

    Thanks for your comment!

    Reply
  • Rosie @ Dentist Los Angeles October 25, 2011, 1:44 pm

    I love your tortoise and the hare reference (love that Aesop)- and love the visual aid as well! Ha. I also like what you said about most people finding success after defeat. I think sometimes we need the defeat, the conflict, the enemy, whatever you call it- to push and motivate us to do better. Sometimes it takes someone telling us we can’t do something to inspire that voice in our heart to tell us we can. At least for me that’s how it is sometimes. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced recently was a big move to another city. I had lived there for a couple of years before but left, dejected, jobless, chasing a man who was wrong for me. After spending two miserable years in a relationship I knew was wrong for me, in a city I didn’t want to live in, I told myself that I was going to move back to where I wanted to be- and I did. I found a roommate, found a job, found new friends and found a new, better version of myself. It wasn’t easy, but with positivity and perseverance I’m in a good place, and ready to keep moving forward towards the next goals I’ve set for myself.

    Reply
  • Grady Pruitt October 25, 2011, 2:54 pm

    Rosie,

    Congrats on your achievement! Picking up the pieces when things go wrong can be hard to do, especially when you don’t want to admit defeat.

    As the Chinese proverb says, “Get knocked down 7 times, get up 8.” In other words, to become successful, you just need to get up one more time than you get knocked down.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • Ali October 26, 2011, 11:32 am

    “And How You Can” lead our attention to dealing with goal conflicts that arise when we are pursuing multiple goals. There aer tacitcs which we can use to deal with goal conflicts.

    Prioritizing goals, priority setting is important when you expects some collateral events affecting your goals

    Satisficing , going to achieve satisfactory results rather than excellent.

    Sequential Attention, when time is bottleneck

    Bargaining, where other parties competes your goals
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  • Grady Pruitt October 26, 2011, 1:19 pm

    I agree, Ali. When you’re pursuing multiple goals at the same time, you have to prioritize. Also, there will be times when you need to “focus” one and times when you “focus” on the other. When doing so, try to give that goal your full attention and give it your best effort.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Reply
  • Ali October 26, 2011, 8:50 pm

    sir, thanks for your feedback.
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  • Grady Pruitt October 27, 2011, 11:30 pm

    You’re welcome!

    Reply

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