Just Do It

I have always believed that life is a balance.  It is a balance of work and pleasure, chocolate and vegetables, reality and fantasy.  Somewhere between all of them is a balance and something that fits for each one of us.  I know that I can indulge in those two chocolates a day that I so love, but I need to walk my four miles at least three times a week to keep wearing the same jeans!  I also need to commit a number of hours per week to reading and staying current in my field in order to remain productive with my clients.  It is a balance that does not occur automatically, but rather with a plan.

Last week I wrote about the NFL athletes who were reduced to financial ruin because they did not have a plan.  There had not been a plan as they entered college, and there had not been a plan as they proceeded through their career.  They are not unlike the vast majority of the population.  No goals, no plan.

But highly successful people know that their success did not occur without a plan.  A written document that included goals and strategies for achieving those goals.  Although there is not a documented source, I love the quote, “Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard at it.”

I know people who dream of success, have great aspirations, but never achieve what they are looking for in their work or life.  They work hard, but they fail to meet their dreams because they don’t have a plan.  I also know that there are people who achieve greatness in spite of what others believe because they DO have a plan.

Can you imagine any researcher striking out in a lab to develop a new technology and not having a plan?  Can you imagine Ray Kroc without a business plan to launch his concept of franchising McDonalds?

Do you have a plan?  Do you have a plan that is loosely developed and hanging out there on a cloud or is it a real plan?  Has it been committed to paper?

In a response to last week’s blog, a friend and colleague sent an email telling me about how she works with middle school students to write their “Blueprint.”  The effort developed out of a lesson that included the reading of Dr. Martin Luther King’s, “Life’s Blueprint” speech.  How wonderful that those students should have the advantage of an educator who has the foresight to teach and guide them in the importance of creating a plan!  How unfortunate to think that statistically, only 3% of those students will continue in life’s journey with the habit of continuously reflecting and rewriting their plan in an effort to achieve their goals.  Will you be one of the 3%?  Have you created your plan?  That Nike slogan, “Just Do It” is vital when it comes to committing to writing a plan.

Playing and Planning for Success

A retired educator, I wish I had a penny for every student I have ever heard say, “I want to be a professional athlete.”  Not that I would be so wealthy, but the sheer volume would be impressive.  That volume struck me profoundly this week as I watched an HBO special sports presentation made by Bryant Gumbel.  During the hour long piece, he chronicled the lives of two athletes who had played in the NFL.

The athletes had each played for more than 4 years and each had contracts of over 5 million dollars per year in the 1990’s and early 2000.  Over 5 years, they had both made in excess of 20 million dollars.  However, both had since lost all of their money and one had filed for bankruptcy.  Neither had careers to fall back on and neither had a plan for moving forward.  Even more astounding was the frequency this story is repeated across the NFL.  Gumbel reported that over 60% of NFL players lose their fortune after retirement and most do not have a plan to recover.  Many have not completed their education so an immediate transition to another career is not even an option.

Imagine, 60% of retired NFL players lose their entire fortune.  That’s just the NFL.  What about the numbers in other sports?  How can that happen?  How can individuals perform at that level and then lose everything with no means to replace even part of their once highly lucrative earning power?

Students, this is the message I want you to hear loud and clear today.  Plan for your future.  Live your dreams, set your goals and have a plan for your future.  Your education is the key to transitioning throughout your life.  It can provide a satisfying and rewarding lifestyle and open doors when otherwise you may have thought them to be closed.  If you are a high school or college athlete dreaming and working hard to go professional, enjoy the ride.  Just remember, at some point, the ride comes to an end for everyone.  Your plan will provide the next opportunity and help to protect you from being an economic casualty.  It will provide your next great ride!