If I could only give one piece of advice before I died, it would be to set goals. This is the single greatest idea to having a fruitful and successful life. If we don't set goals, we perform daily acts of randomness and have no deliberate action to better ourselves or our surroundings. Setting goals also allows us to critically reflect on where we've been and where we want to go. Of course, exploring life as it comes may allow us to end up at the same destination but being deliberate about our approach may allow us to cut the time in half. I've found goal setting to be successful in any facet in life: work, health, friends and family, religion, and any other general self-improvement.
But what if I don't know what I want to do?
Not a problem at all. There are still general skills that we can work on before we develop a career, fitness achievements, or any other type of high overarching goals. We can work on communication (create discussions on message boards), writing (write letters to friends), speaking (try out for a play), and many other general traits to prepare us for any life decision. Being deliberate now allows us to be proactive rather than reactive for our future.
As I mentioned in my earlier blog, I like to set mini goals every year for my birthday to work on broad characteristics. I also like to set Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) to help give myself direction for the future.
Give us an Example!!!
I learned the power of setting goals my senior year of college when I determined that I wanted to intern for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in Colorado Springs, CO. I quickly sought out job openings and applied for any position I could. Believe it or not, one week later I heard nothing. Two weeks - nothing, one month - nothing (Brogan starts sweating), 2 months - nothing (Brogan holds back tears) but here is where the power of goal setting comes in. I ultimately failed to find an internship by applying online but I committed to interning for the USOC so I damn well was gonna find an opportunity. I started researching what other people did via blogs, I further refined my resume, but I believe the biggest item that led to my ultimate success was reaching out and making connections. I started researching roles on linkedIn and found current employees with careers I'd be interested in. I ended up reaching out to Peter Vint as a sports science researcher and explained to him why I was interested and explained how I could help. Over the next few weeks we had discussions and ultimately he created a new internship for me to work there that summer. Goal - Competed.
Had I never made the commitment, I may never have worked at USOC nor would I have learned the power of reaching out and simply asking questions. Setting goals is empowering!!!
Be bold! Set BHAGs! Find ways to improve yourself and then find how you can be deliberate on achieving that goal. If we wonder through life aimlessly, we may never reach our full potential or accomplish as much as we, later in life, wished we had.
Be creative! Do things that make you uncomfortable! Push your boundaries! Set a career objective to work for NASA and then start catering your career path as to how to accomplish that goal. Commit to a marathon and gradually build up your training over a year. Become financially independent and begin finding a side hustle. Learn to be more caring and do something nice for your friends once a month. The possibilities are endless, all you have to do is commit to a goal!
Sickness, hunger, thirst, and loss of family/friends are probably the hardest things we'll have to face in life but most of us won't have to face these issues in large doses. Outside of that, what in life is really that hard? More specifically, do we overuse the term hard?
I was in the middle of pulling a 13 hour shift at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City when I began complaining to my coworkers that I still needed to run 12 miles after I got off at 10:00pm. My coworker silently leaned over to me and whispered, "what is so hard about that?" I looked over at him and was like, aaaaah, what? He cleared his throat and clarified:
Nothing in life is that hard, you just don't want to do it. I used to work three jobs and complain the same way until I had the realization that working isn't that hard, I'd just rather be doing something else. Only a few things in life are hard.
This may have been one of the greatest pieces of advice I've ever received, as it's reshaped my perspective on how I tackle challenges. To this day, I still quote the same man when things are getting "hard" and shake myself up to get a better perspective. I can think of handfuls of times where I perceived things as difficult and opted for the easier path. Imagine throwing a rock in your backyard every time you opted for the easier route. How many rocks would you have after a day? After a week? Over the course of a lifetime? How much farther ahead in life would you be if you chose to perceive them as manageable barriers rather than hard tasks? If we dissect our day into manageable tasks, we can see the simplicity of each task and accomplish more. Don't let a productive schedule be confused with something that is hard!
With my newfound inspiration, I hopped on the treadmill after work and ran until 1:00am. How do you like them apples? Believe it or not, the "following" day I woke up 7:00am and instantly regretted it. Which plays an important lesson on understanding the need for balance. Sleep deprivation is not easy, and we can't burn the candle from both ends!
In short, Don't let your ego get in the way of understanding when enough is enough but keep your commitments sound enough that you're able to have continuous productive results! Whenever I start to get lazy, I recall this conversation and ask myself if what I have to do is really that hard. More often than not, I choose to take the higher road and I'd like to think I'm better because of it.
Inspired by Elon Musk's commitment to eating hot dogs for a month (link to article), I thought i'd test my limits on spending an average of less than $10 a day on food for a year. Note that this included eating out, beer, snacks, buying friends/family meals and anything in between that involved eating. Although eating hot dogs everyday sounds like heaven, I also had to consider my nutritional needs of being a professional athlete running 100+ mile weeks.
I know you all are probably thinking to yourselves, but why? Just pay the extra two bucks and get that cheeseburger made for you. If you can't already tell, I'm addicted to numbers and excel. So naturally I try to compute and apply numbers to everything. In the case of saving money, let's assume you put the money into your retirement fund and achieve the average stock market return of 7% a year and take your savings out after 40 years. If your penny pinching saved you $10 a day on food, your total savings for the year would be $365*10=$3,650.00. After 40 years of compounding interest, this amount would equal $54,656.77. That's enough to fund your new spending diet for $54,656.77/$3,650=14.97 years after retirement. #Math
Where did I begin?
I started with what I needed from a nutritional standpoint veggies, carbs, fruits, et cetera and determined what the minimum cost could potentially be for each. For all of you project managers, I took the minimum viable product (MVP) on what I needed to operate from a sustenance perspective and the rest was nice to have money to spend on myself. Without a doubt, my budget was quickly gobbled up by fruits and vegetables as there were no cost cutting strategies around this (Gardening for me consists of growing weeds and killing plants). With whatever remaining budget I had, I began meal planning for the most bang for my buck. Here is what a typical day looked like for me:
Tuna Casserole was a go-to for me as it met my 4 to 1 carbs to protein ratio for recovery and it was cheap and surprisingly palatable (don't deny it till you try it!).
How did my year turn out?
Tips and Tricks
Sum it up already!
Saving money doesn’t have to equate to eating unhealthy or being a recluse, it involves proactive planning and being deliberate in not eating out when you don't have to. Over the course of a year, I met my financial goal while meeting my athletic goal of qualifying for the Olympic marathon trials. How do you like them apples?
I have two quotes in life that I like to live by, "pain lasts a day, regret lasts a lifetime" and "You are nothing but the fruit". The first of the two quotes was my go to quote to mentally prepare my teammates and myself for big races. From a runner's perspective, there is nothing more frustrating than reflecting on a race and thinking about where you gave up or why you didn't push harder. I think we can all generally agree if you gave someone a split second decision to either run up a hill or down a hill, they are more apt to choose downhill. By mentally preparing myself to climb the mountain when I reached the "Y" in my path, I was more willing to embrace the pain during a race.
The second quote I found while reading this article http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-you-better-person/ by David Wong. This is one of my favorite quotes due to its applicability to everything in life and is one of the main reasons for starting and naming my blog. To summarize the article, I can say I'm an apple tree but until I actually start producing apples, people don’t see me as an apple tree. The same principle applies to life, I'm caring because I ask you how your day is going, I'm determined because I never skip leg day, I'm a cereal connoisseur because I eat 3 family sized boxes each week.
Ever since reading this article, I've sought out ways to continually bear my fruit. One way I like to subtly grow myself in a direction I want, is by creating a yearly bucket list on my birthday. I start by determining the core characteristics I hope to portray. In example, this year I'm focusing on learning, running/health, adventure, caring, and financial responsibility and then I take these core components to create my bucket list with tasks. That's my project management planning 101 coming out of me. How do you like them apples?
Bucket List- age 26
Does talking about fitness, finances, and making it in the real world excite you? Me too but younger Brogan would have slapped the daylights out of future Brogan if he knew this is what would become of him. Younger Brogan would have set his sights on becoming a full-time professional football player, part-time Lego set tester and would have scoffed at any idea involving growing up. So what made it all change? Reading. Well that and the one time he was clobbered into his first ever back flip attempt during football practice and the repeated nightmare of stepping on Legos. Much like Pavlov's ability to train his dogs, my environment has quite literally molded me to evolve. Reading has been the largest conduit for this change and has become a staple in my life to push me to dream and be more than I ever thought I could (younger Brogan rolls his eyes and pukes in disgust). I was never much of a reader growing up and in fact I hated reading. If we look at younger Brogan's Myspace page circa 2006 when having a Myspace account was still cool (it's still a little cool) I was quoted saying "Reading Sucks". Not really sure what point I was trying to prove here but man did reading suck. Younger Brogan even brought his reading hate to the Facebook world or as you English nerds would say, Proofreading hate:
Maybe I was trying to invent a new language? (Please forgive me, i'm still working on it)
Before we can continue, yes my siblings and I are still just as ugly and yes my younger sister is possessed in this photo. But that's beside the point, what's important is the book that changed it all for me (Crowd cheers for Harry Potter) and no it's not Harry Potter. While many of you are probably thinking to yourself, wait a minute, younger Brogan hates reading. Why would he start reading? Trust me, i'm still just as surprised as you are but there is one important characteristic to note about myself, which makes all of this possible. I am the largest pushover when it comes to peer pressure. If you ask me anything more than twice, i'm more than likely to fold. I'm not proud of playing with Polly Pockets, giving free massages, or painting nails but they had to be done. In the following scenario, my vulnerability was no different and was no match for my hate for reading.
(Brogan coughs to clear his throat and leans back in his rocking chair to begin story) Circa 2009, It was yet another beautiful fall day for Brogan to play outside with his high school friends. As expected, Brogan and his friends found the nearest house and planned to hang out in the basement. Dillan, the ring leader of the group, proposed they all go to his place to study Calculus (Yes, we were nerds). As they entered Dillan's home, they were pleasantly greeted by his mother (Shout out to Michelle) who stopped them and insisted "The Hunger Games" was the greatest book she had ever read. Before Brogan could leave, she cornered him off as she knew he was the weakest link of the group and forced him to agree that he would read the book (Michelle briefly asked in passing if anyone would like to read the book). Younger Brogan attempted to put up a front but quickly folded and accepted the reading offer. To Brogan's surprise, "The Hunger Games" too was the greatest and only book he had ever read. The End.
What I really loved about "The Hunger Games" was its uniqueness to anything I've ever heard, learned, or could even dream up. Where the alternate universe challenged my thinking and made me curious about what other things I could explore in books. The more books I read, the more curious I became and the more whys and hows I began to ask. My reading interests began to evolve and took off when I started asking influential members in my life for book recommendations. While a majority of these books were self-help and self-improvement, I thought it was in my best interest to start taking notes and begin implementing these ideas into my life. This process has led me to become addicted to self-development and has pushed me to explore all the shortcuts there are through self-exploration and reading. Making mistakes and taking chances takes years of walking the lonesome road but books give us a quick insight into a lifetime of mistakes and successes. Long story short, Brogan is addicted to learning, exploring, self-improvement, efficiency and applying everything he learns to life. I plan to use my blog to document my life lessons during my trials and errors of self-exploration as well as draw in similar minded self-entrepreneurs to learn from as well!