One of the benefits of having a “viral” video is that I am contacted by people from all over the world with different comments or requests. This is one I received in December of 2016 from a teacher at a school just outside of Dublin:
I was considering looking at your video with one of my classes, with a focus on goal setting and working towards it. How would you feel about taking questions from students, possible recording your answers on video that we could then watch in class? It would be very helpful to them I think, not restricted to weight loss/ exercise but goal setting in general, not losing motivation etc
I loved the thought of it and quickly responded with “Send me the questions!”.
A few weeks later the following arrived in my mailbox
Like any gift that you receive and have no idea what is hidden behind the thin wrapping paper, I ripped open the envelope to see what was waiting inside for me. Below is what I found and like a new box of chocolates (remember kids, it’s really not WHAT you eat, but how MUCH you eat…) I slowly savored each question as my mind ate them up one by one.
I always try and think outside the box so instead of ME reading the questions I thought it would be fun to have JULIA read the questions and I would then answer them. Only one slight problem.
Like a broken record, Julia was back at Childrens Hospital in Boston for a couple of weeks courtesy of her never-ending battle with Cystic Fibrosis. Undeterred and with her willingness in helping with the project, I grabbed my camera equipment and headed to Boston to have her read the questions. It worked and I had what I needed.
A few weeks later I finally had time to answer the questions from my office. I decided to set up my camera by my desk, watch Julia ask each question on my computer, turn to the camera and answer the question off the top of my head. Fortunately I only had to do one retake of an answer.
This is the finished product, all 26 minutes (!) of why I was able to succeed at my goal of losing a ton of weight and running the Boston Marathon.
If you actually make it to the end, you will see that I summarized that goals can only be obtained if you focus on a specific goal, work hard at attaining it and never give up. Goals are supposed to be hard, and the ones that fall into the “impossible dream” category, will always be the most difficult, and in return, the most rewarding.
I was about to finish up the video when I thought I would throw a quick thanks out to Julia. Plus according to the teacher, the students, also about the same age as Julia, were interested in how she was doing 9 years later. Now 18, I had just found out a few days earlier that she had applied to, and been given an interview by Harvard.
Suddenly I saw a great segue.
Julia suffers from Cystic Fibrosis which is a genetic disorder that affects her lungs and digestive system. In 2016 she spent 17 weeks (!) at Childrens Hospital, missing a considerable amount of school. I assume most patients with such a serious illness, would give up any hope of actually attending college, especially one of the hardest schools in the world to get into.
But not Julia. Julia saw it as a challenge.
When Julia was around 10, she decided that she would attend an Ivy League college and since Harvard is the closest one to Childrens Hospital in Boston, she set a goal of going there. Even though she spent approximately 1/3 of her high school life in a hospital, she persevered and did everything she could to be at the top of her class, do well on tests, etc.
A few months ago, after completing her application and compiling the necessary documents, she wrote an essay describing her young life. Here is an excerpt from the essay she wrote to Harvard:
After my entire future was put into question from the severity of my illness, I regained control by realizing that what I truly wanted was to further my education and make a real difference. I transformed my greatest fear, my shortened life span, into my greatest motivation. Everyone can have their dreams taken from them at any moment. For me, the dream of progress outweighs the fear of the unknown. And I believe that transforming our fears into motivation is one way to live a full life.
It might not seem it on a daily basis, but life always ends up being too short for everyone. And while most people put off today what they can do tomorrow, sadly at some point in everyone’s life, there is no tomorrow. Whether it is losing weight, running a race, or going to an Ivy League school, set your goals and never give up on your dreams because they can come true…