What We Can Learn from Diana Nyad

For most of the summer, I’ve been eagerly following the story of Diana Nyad as she strives to achieve the goal she first conceived of over 30 years ago. It’s definitely been a struggle, and at this point, she may not achieve the goal this year, but we can learn a lot from her.

Have a Big Goal
Diana’s goal is to swim 103 miles from Cuba to Key West in open water. No shark cage, no wet suit. She’s doing this at the age of 60, after having failed to complete the goal 1978. It’s not an easy goal, but that’s the point. Having a big goal, whether it’s a record-breaking swim or paying off all your debt, gives you something to strive toward. A focus.

Be Prepared for Setbacks
Prior to deciding to attempt this swim at the age of 60, Diana hadn’t set swum a stroke in over thirty years. She was burned out. But then, with that milestone looming, she realized she was in the best shape of her life and now was the time to try.

Of course, there are many challenges. First, the money. This outlandish swim requires a lot of training, an extensive crew, and assistance from experts. She’s been raising money for this dream from the beginning. Second, the logistics. The biggest challenge there was getting the necessary permissions from Cuba and the U.S. Even with the help of the Secretary of State, that took longer than it should have. The last challenge is the weather – she missed a key window in July and August because of the visa issue. Now she has to outwait hurricane season.

We’ve all been through similar, if smaller, experiences. My husband and I were starting to build our nest egg back up when he had to have surgery. We made it through that struggle and now we’re back on track again. Life slowed us down, but it didn’t stop us.

Never Give Up
Diana hasn’t given up on her dream, even as the window of possibility shrinks. She keeps training and preparing for this swim. And that’s the key – even when all seemed lost, she found the focus to keep going. It will be the same with your goal. Emergencies will come up or life will get in the way. Once you deal with that, reclaim your focus on your goal and you’ll quickly catch up to where you were.

Create Steps Toward Your Goal
Diana didn’t just decide to do this on day one and then jump in the ocean on day two. It took time. She had a plan. First, she had to start training again. Then she had to gather her experts and crew. Then she had to start raising funds. Then she had to apply for the necessary visas. Then she had to start training with her crew. First, there was a 24-hour swim as a test and several other long test swims. All of that will make this possible.

You have to do the same for your goals. Don’t just say, “This is my goal” and hope you’ll figure out how to get there. Make a plan. Write it down, step by step, and establish deadlines for those steps. Then hold yourself to the steps.

I hope you’ll follow Diana Nyad’s dream, too. It’s truly inspiring.

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