I began this blog approximately 5 years ago, at the same time I decided to go back to school to become a Physical Therapist. I was working in the gym as a personal trainer at the time, and honestly I was miserable. I was bored, I hated selling, and I wanted the skills and knowledge to help more people and help them in a deeper way.
Saying and doing are two very different things though. I set off on my path in Jan 2013 taking prerequisites and earning volunteer hours at clinics. I applied, interviewed for, and was admitted to the PT class of 2014… I was dismissed from the program 2 months later for technical bullshit on a practical. I dusted myself off (I drank too much…another story), and I was readmitted to PT school in the cohort of 2015. This time it took. It was an adventure, there were dragons. Lots of dragons. There were many times I had to compromise, bite my tongue, and pacify egos.
In May of 2018 the Odyssey ended. I graduated and found a great job within a month. Since that point there has been an amazing shift in my life. The politics and drama of PT school are over and I get paid to help people. In summary I accomplished my goal.
In the months since graduation I have had friends and acquaintances ask how I did this. How do you go from having a far reaching goal to making it your reality? To quote Dr. Strange “study and practice, years of it.”
Seriously though there were a few underlying themes to my story and I’d like to discuss them here.
- Set your goal: Know clearly why you want to accomplish this and what you’re willing to sacrifice to do so.
- Visualize and believe
- Maintain focus
- Set and celebrate milestones
- Count down
Set your goal: be specific, know when you will have achieved that goal and know what you are willing to sacrifice to do so (and what you aren’t). Know why you want to do this.
–For my case it was “I want to become a licensed physical therapist so that I can use my skills to help people while making a comfortable income.”
–I was willing to sacrifice a lot. Time away from home and friends, the better half of my twenties, and occasionally my pride.
Visualize and believe: there will be people who give up and those who will fail. Decide now that its not going to be you. If you’ve addressed the first bullet point you know what your end result will look like. When things get tough (and they will) take the time to focus on this. It sounds silly, but it is invaluable to check in with yourself and remember why you are going through whatever it is you are doing.
Maintain Focus: this goes hand in hand with the previous point. When you have far reaching goals distractions will almost definitely pop up along the way. You may become infatuated with a person, want to set another goal like “getting in shape,” or you may have doubters that will tell you all the reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t want to do, whatever it is you want to do. Remember the first two things we discussed. You may need to sacrifice that budding relationship (if they are a hindrance/distraction), keep your fitness goals small and build them slowly, or cut out the people who doubt you. It may sound severe but if a person is trying to make you doubt yourself, they are toxic and they can bring you down. Know now that you are going to miss out on things. What that means depends on your specific goal.
Set and celebrate milestones: you have set your goal, you know what it looks like and what you’re willing to do to accomplish it. Now break it down into bite sized pieces. In my case it was a set of steps that would take me to graduation. Ex) prerequisites, admission, year 1, year 2, comps, residencies, research project defense, graduation. What does yours look like? Can you break it down by time line or steps along the way? When you cross one of these off your list make sure you celebrate. You are one step closer. Reflect on all of the previous bullets. Get ready for the next step. Believe you will reach the next milestone as well.
Count down: All of the above is useless if you don’t keep the end result in sight. Sometimes it might seem like you are watching grass grow, but over time you will be able to look back and check how far you have come. If it’s possible to set a finishing date do so. If not, try to quantify what you can and then count down from there. Trying to lose weight? How many lbs to go? For me this was graduation. What is it for you?
Cross your finish line: this looks different for everyone. Recognize when you accomplished your goal. Celebrate, be proud, and then help others. (Where I am trying to be now)
Set another goal.