Our mission at Campus Elite is to provide you with the knowledge, resources, and support to help you achieve your academic, health, and fitness goals. At the same time, we want you to keep in mind that there is more to life than the destination (i.e., reaching your goal). Sometimes we become so preoccupied with reaching our goal that we forget to enjoy the most important part—the JOURNEY! We forget to acknowledge and appreciate the hard work, perseverance, blood, sweat, and tears we poured into our goal. We forget why we sought out to reach our goal—to better ourselves mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Self-reflection: Reexamine your recent goals.
I want you to look back on some of the goals that you have achieved in the past few years (e.g., graduating college, running a marathon, reaching 6% body fat). With this goal in mind, I want you to think about how you felt the moment you achieved this goal. Did you have a sense of euphoria? If so, how long did it last—minutes, hours, days?
What were some of your thoughts following your fitness or academic attainments? If you felt jubilant, you may have found yourself saying: I can’t believe I did it; I deserve this; anything is possible; I want more! In contrast, maybe you felt pessimistic, and despite your success, you thought: I wasn’t good enough; I don’t deserve this; I’m burned out and never want to do this again. If you are the former, I commend you; it seems like you already have a good grasp on what it means to enjoy the journey! Continue to strive for excellence. For the latter, don’t fret; all is not lost. Allow me to share a personal experience that gave me a new perspective on life goals.
Personal Story: F**k, what have I done?
When I was preparing for my first powerlifting competition in college, I followed a plan similar to the advice on Campus Elite. I identified my goals for each lift (e.g., squat 500 lbs.), designed a workout and diet plan that would help me reach these goals, surrounded myself with “winners” (people with like-minded values and goals), and executed my plan.
At first, things were going great. My weights increased each week (75 lbs. in three weeks for the squat) and my body weight was skyrocketing. I felt like the Juggernaut—nobody could stop me. I was fantasying about breaking meet records, people cheering me on, and women ripping off their tops at the sight of me—Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud. Reaching my goals wasn’t going to be an issue—at least that’s what I thought.
How did it all go to shit (what seemed like shit at the time)? With my newfound confidence, I began to deviate from my workout and diet plan. I was going too heavy, too soon and missing scheduled weight attempts. I started eating cookies, ice cream, and chocolate chip waffles drenched in syrup at my heart’s content. I felt like shit—mentally and physically. On the surface, I appeared fine, but on the inside there was a waging war. My confidence was wavering; I wanted to quit and I told myself I couldn’t do it. Nevertheless, I surmounted the doubts and competed in the powerlifting competition. In hindsight, I performed surprisingly well (lost the tiebreaker for first place in my weight and age class), but at the time I perceived my success as a failure. Despite my success, I had a piss-poor attitude after the powerlifting meet (my older self would have slapped by younger self in the face). I tried leaving my trophy at the competition because the sight of it disgusted me. In my mind, I didn’t deserve it. With encouragement from a friend, I reluctantly took the trophy with me, but refused to look at it or touch it on the way home. When I got home, I purposely left the trophy in the car in the hope that someone would throw it out by mistake. I couldn’t get away from the damn thing! When the trophy ended up back in my hands, I knew what I had to do. With all my might, I Gronk smashed the trophy into the pavement.
F**k, what have I done?
What I learned: You won’t be happy at the destination if you can’t be happy on the journey.
Much like the plastic trophy lying in pieces on the pavement, I was broken. For a brief second: I hated powerlifting; I hated working out; I just wanted to give up! Suddenly, I was overcome by nostalgia from my training days: blood, sweat, and tears; eyes on the verge of busting out of their sockets while squatting; not being able to walk the next day after an intense leg workout; muscle tweaks and strains; training sessions with my fellow strong boys. Am I crazy for loving all these things? I couldn’t help but crack a smile and laugh.
Somehow, I lost appreciation for these things during training. That’s when it hit me: the goals (destinations) aren’t the main focal point. Don’t get me wrong; reaching a goal is a great feat, but it means nothing if you didn’t enjoy the journey to attainment. The journey is a pivotal component of our lives; it is how we learn from our mistakes and perceived failures, and reemerge smarter, stronger, and faster than before. Success is a journey, not a destination.
This realization was a defining point in my life. From that point forward, for any goal I set out to reach, I look back on this defining moment—I don’t want to ever lose sight of the journey again. Ultimately, the many journeys that I have experienced in my lifetime have made me the man I am today—a force to be reckoned with. It is time you feel the same way.
Next time when your goals seem insurmountable, keep this in mind: life goals (e.g., ace class finals, win a bodybuilding or powerlifting competition, graduate from college) are about the journey not the destination. Now, get out there and be ELITE!