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How To Achieve Your Goals – Lessons From Sam

Outside of going to the gym, the only other exercise I can do while trying to rehab the sports hernia injury I have is swimming. The apartment community that we live in has a full size pool and I try to get in three to five sessions a week. Yesterday after work I hopped in the pool to get in my current 1/4mi+ swim workout. In the lane next to me was an older gentleman who pretty much smoked me. When I was stopping to catch my breathe he was still going back and forth making it look effortless. At one point we both took a break on the same side and started chatting.

We started off discussing what a nice day it was to go for a swim and how great it is to live in Colorado. Next we talked about the laps we were doing in the pool and I said how great of an exercise swimming is. He told me that he does about a 1/2mi four times a week, bikes 20mi a few times a week, and is 80 years old. I could not believe it. The oldest I thought he could be was 65. We continued our conversation about exercise and health and that is when he gave me the first piece of advice. Sam said to me, “you have to pay your dues and I don’t mean with money.”

Sam said that after we were discussing how you have to build up to things. That you have to work hard and put the time in that is necessary to reap the rewards. What I also learned about Sam is that he is a retired dentist. The catch is that he grew up during a time in history when wars were raging, the economy was unstable and Sam worked at a steel mill to pay his way through college. From early on he knew first hand what it took to succeed.

Sam and I continued talking for a little while longer. I found out that some of our ancestors are from the same area in Kiev, Ukraine and that we both lost our mothers at a young age. After finishing up talking we both did a few more laps before I got out the pool to go meet up with a friend to watch Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the New Jersey Devils and the Los Angeles Kings (Congratulations to the Kings by the way, what an amazing series). I had to ask Sam one more question before I left the pool.

I asked Sam for his advice on his approach to achieving a goal. He said the first thing you have to do is make your goal a priority. You have to put aside the time to work towards it. Next he said you have to commit yourself to it and constantly remind yourself all the reasons why you want to achieve the goal. Finally he said, on the days when you do not feel like working towards your goal or those days when you feel like giving up, those are the days when you must work towards it and push on through, that eventually over time it will get easier and you will enjoy it more.

I know what Sam conveyed to me is not groundbreaking or revolutionary. I also know that we have all heard words similar from different people in our lives at various times. But there was just something about meeting Sam yesterday that resonated with me. Something about the way you can clearly see that he enjoys life and lives in the moment, regardless of any past hardships and tragedies. Sam is not defined by excuses, he is instead defined by his actions. He could have easily ended up just being a steel mill worker for his entire life, but instead knew that there was something better out there and understood that if he committed himself to his goals that one day he would achieve them.

In my eyes, meeting Sam yesterday was not by accident and what I learned from him has influenced me tremendously. What he said will stay with me for the rest of my life and I hope as time goes by that I too, will be able to convey these words of wisdom in the same way. In fact, on my desk at work I just put the words “Remember What Sam Said” on a sticky note on my monitor. There are no magic pills you can take to achieve your goals and be successful. There are no shortcuts you can take either. If you want to achieve your goals and be successful, simply follow this plan:

  • “You have to pay your dues and I don’t mean with money.”
  • Make your goal a priority
  • Commit to your goal
  • Remind yourself constantly all the reasons why you want your goal
  • On the days you don’t want to work towards your goal or feel like giving up, you must work and push through it

“Remember What Sam Said”

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