Let me tell you a story that happened to me last year...
So last June, I started having some crazy body pain. All of my joints and bones were hurting as if somebody was twisting them. I was barely able to walk and had many other complications.
I knew that it wasn’t a cold, so I decided to man down and get myself to the hospital. Long story short, I had some type of autoimmune disorder that, if not treated on time, can send people straight to Jesus. (As of today, I have completely recovered, and feel better than before. Thanks for your love and concern.)
To get rid of this disease, the second part of 2018 consisted of frequent doctor visits and infusions of immune system suppressants. These suppressants cause severe bodily weakness for several months. The last infusion happened on December 15, 2018.
Two weeks after my last infusion, I decided to make some New Year's resolutions. One of my goals for 2019 was to swim 100 laps (back and forth) in the LA Fitness swimming pool.
Now, if some of you Michael Phelpses think it’s not a big deal, it was is me. Maximum I’ve done after many months of practice was 18 non-stop laps. However, I thought that if I trained hard, I’d be able to reach 100 laps by the end of 2019.
In a few days, I decided to start working on my resolutions. I took my swimming shorts and headed straight to the gym. (Before I continue, I have to say that the night before I had a fever so I took NyQuil to help me out.)
I made an ambitious goal to beat my former record by 66% and reach 30 laps. I’ll be honest, I was genuinely nervous. Failing to achieve your first goal in the new year would’ve left a big dent in my motivation.
By lap 5, I was getting tired. I kept on swimming. I created different counting methods to keep my mind distracted from exhaustion. Lap 15 gave me a boost, knowing I could start counting down from 15 to zero. Once, I reached lap 30, I decided to continue swimming for a few more laps to beat my expected performance.
Those ‘few laps’ continued for a while until I reached lap 50. This is when NyQuil started kicking in. I literally began falling asleep. My eyes would shut but I kept on swimming. Another reason for closing my eyes was that the chlorine in the pool began burning my eyes and the skin around them. After 3 hours of non-stop swimming, I reached 101 laps.
The climb out of the pool did not resemble an Olympic champion who is about to be awarded. It was more like a dying person in the middle of a desert crawling to an imaginary oasis. I set next to the pool and experienced a full range of emotions, even cried a little. (Yes, real men cry!)
It’s hard to describe what happens in a person’s mind when they do something they never thought was possible. After lap 50, my mind wandered in a lot of weird and dark places. It was emotional chaos. A hell and bliss at the same time. A state where pain and exhaustion no longer dominate your mind. A pure flow.
Often times, we set goals that are in line with the fears and beliefs about our limitations. Perhaps we look back at our track record and use it to gauge the extent of our capabilities. “I barely finished school, so I should settle for job X”. “I’ve always been a shy person so I can never do Y”. These limiting beliefs shape our subconscious, which in turn influences our goals and actions in life.
We know we can run a mile a day. We know we can make our bed each morning. So we set these mediocre goals to maintain a sense of familiarity. They allow us to stay cozy in our comfort zone. We get a little boost when we achieve them. A little satisfaction. And that’s all.
However, what I learned from my experience in the pool is that to achieve anything worthwhile and change your destiny, you have to rewire your subconsciousness. This is the only way to gain more confidence and expand your limits.
To rewire your subconsciousness, you have to go through hell. You have to do the unfamiliar. You have to disrupt your established neural pathways and create new ones. Creating uncomfortable goals is the first step. Here are three reasons why you want to set big and uncomfortable goals.
I’m sure you know the saying ’I’ll sleep on it’. There’s truth to it. When we sleep, our mind takes the information we received that day and processes it. Often times, our brain analyses the gathered information and delivers unbelievable solutions right in our sleep or throughout the day.
Have you heard of Parkinson's Law? Here is what it says: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. What it means is that your mind is so flexible that it is able to accomplish the same amount of work whether you’re given a week or a month to complete it. Another saying says: “If You Want Something Done, Ask a Busy Person To Do It”. The mind of a busy persons runs on such a high speed that it has the capacity to take on more work than someone who’s laid back.
I believe something similar applies to goal setting. If we set small goals - our mind will work just hard enough to achieve them. If we set great goals - our mind will find the energy and concentration to reach them. Set grand goals and your mind will do the tricks you never thought were possible.
Faced with a big challenge, you become a man or a woman on a mission. The fear and excitement of the unknown journey ahead of you give you an extra boost in motivation. The word ‘boredom’ becomes eliminated from your daily life. There is too much in stake. You’re entering into uncharted territory.
Once you accomplish an ‘impossible’ goal, your perception about yourself and your abilities will change forever. Next time you have doubts, there will be something for you to fall back on. “I’ve done X, therefore I can do Y”. There is no other way to change your destiny. The struggle is the only way. I have to warn you - it's going to be painful. But beyond pain and suffering, there is a new reality. A reality that may have never existed in your family lineage. Set big goals, and go through hell until you reach the other side.