I wasn’t but a hundred yards into it when I realized I was in for a serious challenge. I was scared I wasn’t going to make it.
After I had been swimming regularly for about six months, my wife, Karina, and I retreated to a bed and breakfast on a lake.
I looked across the lake and thought, “I could swim that.”
I estimated that it was about a half mile across, making for a mile swim, which I had done plenty of times.
That is, in an indoor pool.
But open water swimming is drastically different than indoor lap swimming — an important fact I didn’t realize until that day.
I fought the fear of not being able to see more than two feet in front of me. Every time I came up for air, waves slapped my face, making me choke.
But the hardest challenge was not being able to swim in a straight line.
I had fixed my eyes on a large white rock across the lake as my goal. At first I tried taking fifty strokes before checking my progress. But I found that I was veering considerably to either side each time.
The only way I could stay on track was by looking up at my goal and recalibrating as necessary every twenty strokes instead.
Thus, my progress was slow and tedious. But without constantly checking my progress, I never would have made it.
All too often, we put our heads down and swim through life without periodically checking to see if we’re headed the right way. After years of hard work and largely thoughtless routines, we raise our heads and realize we’ve been swimming in the wrong direction.
Even the most focused and committed must continually reconnect with their ultimate vision and most meaningful objectives to stay on track.
How to Never Lose Sight of Our Objectives & Stay on Track
1. Daily Meditation
I learned the power of this habit from one of my mentors, Steve D’Annunzio.
This is an incredibly effective way to constantly reconnect with what is most important. It’s like coming up for air.
Take 15-20 minutes a day. Push aside distractions. Just be in the moment. Connect with the real you beyond your thoughts.
After doing this consistently for a month or two, you’ll be amazed at how calm, peaceful, and focused you become, the clarity you experience, and how many insights you gain.
2. Weekly Planning
Every Sunday evening or Monday morning, I take 15 minutes or so to plan out my week.
Not only does it help me see what I need to accomplish each week, but it also helps me calibrate my weekly tasks within the bigger context of my ultimate vision and purpose. It helps me stay out of the “thick of thin things,” as Stephen R. Covey put it.
3. Monthly Mastermind Sessions
Every purpose-driven person should be part of a mastermind group of carefully-selected people who keep you accountable to your purpose and help you generate ideas and overcome challenges.
Doing this with just one friend recently has been profoundly useful for me. My recommendation is that you keep the group small, three to five people at most.
4. Quarterly Retreats
At least quarterly, step away from your normal routines and take a full day or two to relax, reflect, and brainstorm.
Leave all your electronic devices at home. Take a notebook. Put yourself in a completely different environment, whether it be hiking in the mountains or staying at a spa.
Ask yourself if you’re clear on your purpose, and if you’re on the right path. Write down ideas for accelerating your progress.
5. Constant Thinking & Learning
Never let a day pass without learning something new. Read meaningful, inspiring books. Immerse yourself in education and training to develop expertise in your field. Seek out and engage with mentors. Stay curious. Take time to really ponder important thoughts.
The more we think and learn, the greater clarity we gain on your purpose and the more empowered we become to accomplish it.
Without conscious, consistent effort, we drift on the waves of social pressure and casual habits and drown in purposeless routines.
The only way to achieve our purpose is to constantly recalibrate our thoughts and actions to our vision and objectives.
Stephen Palmer is a writer and entrepreneur devoted to helping people conquer limitations, maximize their potential, and achieve true freedom.
He is a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, the founder of Life Manifestos, and the author of Uncommon Sense: A Common Citizen’s Guide to Rebuilding America.
He co-authored the New York Times bestseller, Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths that are Destroying Your Prosperity. He is also the co-author of The Conscious Creator: Six Laws for Manifesting Your Masterpiece Life.
Stephen and his wife are raising their four children in southern Utah.