A story is told about a Lion chasing a stag. A fox crossed the path, so the Lion chased the fox. After a while a rabbit crossed the path, so the Lion chased it. Later, a mouse crossed the path and the Lion chased the mouse into a hole. The Lion began his hunt on the trail of a magnificent stag and ended up watching a mouse hole!
Not that there is anything wrong with spontaneity. But there is also something to be said for knowing where we want to go.
Florence Chadwick (an American swimmer who was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions), learned the importance of keeping a goal in mind on July 4, 1952. She waded into the Pacific Ocean off Catalina Island and began swimming toward the California coast 26 miles away. The day was cold and her attendants drove off sharks throughout the journey.
Florence had already swum the English Channel twice and, if she could finish today, she would be the first woman to have swum both. But after fifteen hours in the water, for the first and only time in her long-distance swimming career, she gave up and climbed into the escort boat. Others had urged her on, but in the fog they could not tell her how near she was to the coast. She later learned that she was less than half a mile from shore.
When asked by a reporter why she gave up, Florence replied: “It was the fog. If I could have seen land, I could have finished. But when you can’t see your goal, you lose all sense of progress and you begin to give up.”
On a warm, sunny day two months later Florence Chadwick swam the Catalina Channel, handily beating the men’s record. Only when she kept her eyes on the shore did she eventually arrive there.
Keeping that goal constantly in sight will get you where you want to go.