At what point do you re-evaluate your goals, wondering whether or not you will actually achieve what you’ve set out to do? Journalist and swimmer Diana Nyad attempted the 100-mile Cuba to Florida swim four times before succeeding on her fifth. Others told her she could not achieve her goal, but she never gave up on it.
Diana swam through pitch darkness, endured jellyfish stings, hallucinations and hypothermia over 53 hours to cover those 100 miles. And she was 64. This swim was a goal she’d chased for 40 years. Retelling her swim at TEDWomen, Diana had some important things to say about setting and reaching goals:
- Never, ever give up – if something is important, do it. And put action behind the words; it’s not ‘don’t give up’ or ‘you can’t give up’, Diana’s words are all about doing.
- Be the participant, not the observer – we can all set goals but actually achieving them involves doing something.
- Find a way – this was Diana’s mantra during her swim preparations and the swim itself. If you want it, find a way to make it happen.
In the interests of finding a way, I’m going to share one of my biggest goals to date. In November Annalisa Holmes and I will be trekking in Peru to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s (NCBF) goal of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030. This trek will be a huge undertaking for both of us both physically and emotionally, but we are determined to make it happen.
Annalisa has fought breast disease her entire adult life and had a double mastectomy two years ago. She is making this trek as an advocate for NBCF because this cause is one that is vitally important to her. I’ve wanted to go to Peru to see Machu Picchu since my early 20s, but making that trek means getting fitter, losing weight and walking for many kilometres on the foot I severely traumatised less than a year ago. If Annalisa can come back from a double mastectomy with strength and conviction, I can get myself into shape physically and mentally.
So what am I doing to find a way to meet this goal?
- Getting strong – walking daily to rebuild my body strength and stamina.
- Looking after myself – after injuring my foot last July I endured two infections, twice-weekly visits to the doctor for months and constant elevation. This took a toll on my confidence and physical ability, so setting a physical and mental goal will work on a number of levels.
- Telling everyone – the adventure Annalisa and I are embarking on won’t happen without support from our families, friends and networks so we’re telling the world about our progress, warts and all!
Getting back to Diana’s story, she said she realised that every day was epic because there was something to be done daily that got her closer to her goal of swimming from Cuba to Florida. But the big lesson she took away from the experience was who she became as a result of achieving this massive lifetime goal.
As Henry David Thoreau explains: “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals”.
What will you become?