Trevor Brookins

Trevor Brookins

*Once upon a time I developed a succinct sequence of phrases to guide my life. Set Goals. Get Motivated. Never Quit.

It started as nine posters I wrote look at each morning when I woke, and each night before going to sleep. I soon realized that some of the posters were redundant. I didn’t need a sign for long term goals and short term goals; I didn’t need a sign for getting motivated and staying motivated. So I finally settled on the three aforementioned posters.

When I did this I was an undergraduate and a lot less able to see the problems in the simplicity of my great wall of inspiration. A different version of one’s self is easy to envision but notoriously difficult to realize. Most people are so tied to their routine that actually setting a goal that involves change is scary.

Getting motivated to achieve a goal is extremely difficult – just ask everyone with a New Years’ Resolution to lose weight but never make use of their gym memberships. Staying motivated is even harder – just ask the people who stop going when the spring weather breaks and daylight savings gives them more time to hang out is someplace other than a dank gym.

Quitting is the easiest thing to do because even though it sounds terrible (no one wants to be know as the kind of person who gives up) for most adults with real responsibilities, one woman’s quitting is another woman’s prioritizing work and family. Simply put it’s easy to see other things as more important.

I often think what message I would give my younger self and in this case I would definitely tell 20 year old Trevor that things get very complicated with a  wife, children, car notes, and a mortgage on the horizon.

On the other hand I don’t often think about my younger self’s response – after all what do brash 20 year olds know? But in this case I’ve come to the conclusion that I was on to something. While the younger me couldn’t see the complexities of life, the current me can have a hard time simplifying things.

Of course real life situations are constantly intruding on whatever goals and timelines you’ve set for yourself. But people who overcome these things achieve their goals, people who let them become permanent obstacles stay in a rut and continually set (or maybe just think about setting) new goals.

One of the great things about school that folks don’t normally realize is that each year you have a new bar to clear. In second grade you might have been a whiz at adding three digit numbers but that means nothing to your third grade teacher who want your ass to start adding fractions. Of course when you were eight you hated that. But you had to clear that new bar to continue to the fun filled world of fourth grade. Well what happens when there are no more automatic bars to clear? What happens when there isn’t someone getting paid to push you harder? In a word: mediocrity average.

Hardly anyone acknowledges that they are average but that’s really where most of us are at. Some of us are okay with it and that’s fine. Some of us continue to strive for more and fail. But the bottom line is that while life can get in the way, the only way to grow and break your mold is to: Set Goals. Get Motivated. Never Quit.

Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War.  His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.