By Andrew Baggio
Long-term goals? Dream on!
Wait, wait, wait. What kind of pathetic attitude is that? This goes against everything we’ve ever learnt from the greats, right? They’d be shaking their heads right now! Well before you crucify my seemingly pessimistic outlook, this blog has nothing to do with abandoning your wildest hopes and dreams. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Allow me to explain.
When I was 12 years old I became enamoured with the world of professional wrestling. However, unlike millions of other bright-eyed pre-teens around the world, I never once said “one day I’ll wrestle in the WWE.” Of course, it was an incredible thought, I just simply didn’t think it was possible. Even years later after beginning my training, I still believed that a skinny, pale, un-athletic kid from Adelaide, Australia, had no chance of making it to the land of the giants. What made it harder was that no Australian had ever done it before. There was no clear path or game-plan for success.
For years, I was told that I lacked ambition. That I was just being negative. That I would never make it with this attitude. Apparently, every successful Hollywood star had these huge long term goals. Arnold Schwarzenegger writes in his autobiography Total Recall that he just KNEW he would become Mr. Olympia, a successful actor AND politician! So, what’s wrong with me? Why couldn’t I even entertain the thought?
Upon reflection, I believe that I lacked confidence and had a major fear of rejection. However, my ambition was certainly there, only it was reserved for short-term goals. I attacked training sessions relentlessly. I scanned the internet for every information resource I could find. I networked as much as possible. I wrote my short-term goals down and made game-plans for how I would achieve them. I took each day as it came, not concerned with whether I would eventually become rich and famous. Sure, I would make loose long-term goals, but I very rarely focused more than a few months ahead. Thus, my short-term goals regularly evolved. In fact, over the years they looked something like this:
Initially I just wanted to wrestle a match in front of an audience. Everything else was a bonus.
Then I wanted to wrestle interstate.
Then I wanted to wrestle in all states of Australia at least once.
Then I wanted to wrestle in the USA.
Then I wanted to live and train in a Japanese dojo.
Then I wanted to gain a tryout with the WWE.
Then I wanted to wrestle for the WWE, at least once.
Now I want to gain a full-time job with the WWE.
17 years since the idea of becoming a professional wrestler began to enter my mind, I have achieved above and beyond these crazy pipe-dreams that in the beginning, didn’t seem possible. Does this mean that I am anywhere near where I want to be? Not a chance. However, the ‘childhood dream’, that was initially too daunting for me to seriously think about, has become the next logical step. It is now a short-term, achievable goal.
I have had so many friends and colleagues over the years tell me of their extravagant long-term goals. They were 100% sure that they would achieve them, which I found admirable. However, when they didn’t reach these goals within what they believed to be a reasonable time frame, they became jaded, miserable and ready to give-up. They had failed to recognise the wins along the way. Utilising an ‘all or nothing’ state of mind, they didn’t appreciate the life lessons that they were learning in their journey, so they grew to despise everything about it. Many of them abandoned their goal and jumped over to various other ‘passion projects’ before encountering the same fate. These were often the same people who tried to tell me that I was lacking the ambition necessary to achieve my dreams.
While writing this blog, I picked up Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans book and coincidentally read some advice from former US gymnastics coach Christopher Sommer that was quite oppositional to my points of view. He stated that adhering to one long-term goal is much easier to maintain as it only requires a single decision and reduces the chances of an individual drifting from their chosen goal. I agreed with this point and began to question everything I’d just written, until I remembered that we are all beautiful and unique snowflakes (Fight Club reference, don’t judge me). What motivates and keeps you accountable, will likely be different from the next person. For me, I love the feeling of achieving small goals and regularly reflecting upon where I should go next. Without it, I’d feel lost, uncertain and ultimately as if I was failing.
The importance of the journey
In the above video, Tim Minchin speaks of the power of short term goals.
“You should be careful of long-term dreams. If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out of the corner of your eye.”
Which brings me to my next point. ‘The journey’. I have had many discussions with peers about this in which we have unanimously agreed that the most important part of any dream or goal is not the moment you achieve said goal, but the journey along the way. The experiences that I have had, people I have met and stories that I could tell, have become infinitely more valuable to me, than any individual moment of glory. Can you say:
I have achieved something
I have met new people who have enriched my life
I have learnt something about life, that will allow me to make more informed decisions in the future
If you tick any of these boxes, then regardless of your end-goal, your journey has benefitted you immensely.
So, my take away life-lessons to keep you on track? I have a couple that have absolutely resonated with me and become the framework for how I live my life and ‘chase the dream’. Fortunately, they have been verbalised by people much more notable than I and turned into graphic form for the benefit of this blog!
1. Take a positive from EVERY situation
I am admittedly horrible at facing adversity. To combat this, anytime that I have felt as though I am failing or going through a tough situation, I force myself to find the positive and use it to create a new short-term goal. I promise you, EVERY situation has at least 1 positive, no matter how obscure. In the sporting world, I would consider a perceived negative such as “my cardiovascular fitness has been subpar lately” as a positive as you have identified where improvement is required and can now make the necessary changes.
This, along with practicing gratitude, has absolutely made me the person that I am today.
2. Make the most of the factors that you can control
Excuses and a lack of accountability have been the cause of my biggest internal battles and I’m sure that I am not the only one. Everyone encounters hardships and misfortunes. Even the geographical location and environment that you are raised in, can become a hurdle in achieving your dreams. But I wrote hurdle, not wall. Setting achievable, short-term goals and making the most of factors that I can control, have ensured that I keep moving forward.
Again, I stress that whether you find that focusing on short-term goals or long-term goals are best for you, don’t forget the importance of the journey. Take each win or loss in stride, learn from them and move into the next moment a more aware, informed and evolved human.
Personally, I still lack confidence at times. I still fear rejection. However, I am better equipped at creating short-term goals that will lead me to the bigger picture. Through this I now understand that my dreams are just a culmination of micro-goals that with hard-work, perseverance and a little assistance from lady-luck, can become a reality.
Andrew Baggio - Teacher & Professional Wrestler
Andrew Baggio (a.k.a Damian Slater) is a PE Teacher by day, Professional Wrestler by night, having wrestled for the likes of World Wrestling Entertainment, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and Explosive Pro Wrestling here in Perth.
Andrew has been able to combine his passions for Pro Wrestling and education during his time as Head Coach at the EPW School of Pro Wrestling in Malaga, WA as well as releasing his own weekly YouTube series for aspiring Professional Wrestlers titled 'World-Beater Wrestling.' Andrew holds a Master of Teaching and a Bachelor of Applied Science in addition to 16 years of experience in the squared circle.
Get in touch with Andrew
P.S Do you know someone who could really benefit from reading this? To give them the motivation and push they need to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of the young people around them? Share this post with them. Even if they don't embrace it straight away, you've done your part. Thank you.
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