When we talk about goals we often focus on the goal itself, the end result that we’re looking for. We talk about doing great things, contribution, change, and achievement. But really the destination is only a part of what it means to go after a goal. Furthermore, the destination is never really the end. There’s the process of reaching a goal and then there’s the evolution of that goal. It’s a progression of intertwining events and obstacles. And if your goals are big enough, the path leading to your goals is filled with tireless work, sacrifice, and doubt.
As I make a career transition from school teacher to skating and goal coach, I am reminded of the hardships that went along with training and competing in order to reach my athletic goals as a figure skater. Currently while creating my brand, connecting with the skating community, and getting my foot in the door to coaching I’m working numerous jobs and twice as many hours as I was when I was teaching. Staying on track financially while creating a platform for the career I want can often feel relentless and draining. I remember constantly feeling tired while I was training. I would be up at 5am for morning practices until noon and then head straight to my retail job. The agreement I had with my parents was that they would pay for my skating and I paid for my living expenses. I was busy with either training or work every second of the day and had no down time. I chose exhaustion in favour of competing at a national level.
Along with the long hours and constant work load comes sacrifice. I have to say no to anything that doesn’t align with and bring me closer to where I want to be. The only way I can devote enough time and energy into my goals is by giving up other things like nights out with friends, event invites, non-necessity purchases, watching tv, leisure, enough sleep, etc. It was the same while I was competing. I didn’t have time to see friends outside of the skating world or attend parties the way most twenty year olds do. I was up before dawn, then go, go, go all day, then straight to bed when I returned home at night. I postponed university and gave up the frosh experience in favour of the athlete experience.
And all of the above truths are still not the whole of it. Throughout the daily grind the hardest reality is a little gremlin called self-doubt. You commit all of your time, effort, and energy to something that might never come true. This gremlin is the voice inside your head that says “you’re not good enough” and “who do you think you are?”. Self-doubt can be the most influential obstacle between you and your goals. I certainly didn’t make it as far as I wanted to as an athlete and not as far as I believe I could have had I not allowed self-doubt to retain such a paralyzing hold over me and what was possible. This gremlin often leaves you questioning whether any of it is even worth it.
I promise you that it is worth it. I didn’t make it to the international stage as a skater, but would I trade the experience I had for something else? Absolutely not. Regardless of titles, I’m so proud of everything that training and competing gave me. It’s where I found my passion, it’s where I learned how to push myself, where I learned perseverance, performance, and so much more. Today I know that I cannot really know exactly how my coaching career is going to pan out. But I know two things for sure, one is that I don’t want to continue doing anything that doesn’t make my heart sing. The other is that there is the possibility that everything might pan out better than I can imagine. I will never regret trying.
The truth is that the path to achieving your goals is a lot of hard work; it’s draining and full of sacrifice and uncertainty. And it’s worth it... always.