In 1972, an American college Freshman named John Nabor, watched Mark Spitz win seven gold medals at that summer’s Olympic Games in Munich. Right then, John made a decision – that four years later in 1976, he would win gold in the 100 metres backstroke final.
John was no slouch, in fact he had already won the National Junior Championships. However, he was still almost five seconds away from a time which would likely be required to win gold and set a new world record. It was a huge gap for him to bridge. It was a huge goal.
So he applied a process and created a plan. He divided his five second deficit by the number of hours training he would be able to complete over the next four years and worked out that he must improve his time by the equivalent of one fifth of the blink of an eye for every hour of training. He thought it was possible and so created a training plan that he believed would see him achieve his goal.
Then he committed himself to action, with dedication and intelligence.
By the time the Montreal games arrived in 1976 he had improved so much that he was appointed as captain of the American swim team and he won gold in both the 100 and 200 metres backstroke. The first medal was won in a new world record time and the second in a new Olympic record time.
Your gold medal
This time next week 2013 will have come to an end and we’ll be starting a New Year. For many of us our minds will be filled with thoughts of what may materialise in the forthcoming 12 months and what a New Year could bring.
Some will be starting new journeys or looking for new challenges, others aiming to make a small change here and there. Some will want to close the door on 2013 as a year to forget, whilst others will hope for more of the same.
Regardless of the context or size, we’ll all want something next year. Whether a new journey or challenge, a change big or small, replication or evolution, we’ll be required to make a decision, to create a process and plan, and to take action.
What’s your ‘gold medal’ in 2014? (Goal)
What do you want? No, not roughly or approximately. What exactly do you want and by when? Is it important enough that you’re willing to forsake other ‘distractions’ in its pursuit?
What’s your equivalent of ‘one fifth of the blink of an eye’? (Process)
How can you break it down into its constituent parts? In what order would you need to do it? What specifically would need to happen in order for you to emphatically achieve it? Do you believe that you can do it? How will you know if you’re making progress and how will you know if you’ve achieved it?
What’s your training schedule? (Plan)
How are you going to do it? Who else would you need to involve? Who would be willing to help you?
Will you do it? (Action)
Are you willing to take personal accountability? Are you taking action? Will you keep going, check your progress along the way and adjust if necessary?
The size or context of the goal isn’t what’s important as it will vary for everyone. It’s all relative and it’s all personal. They key is to decide and to be clear on what it is that you want, then to apply a process, create a plan and to take action.
You can do whatever you want to in 2014. It all starts with a decision.
I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.