Updated: Sep 15, 2019
My 25th birthday was not one of my best days.
I remember sitting on my parent's couch, drifting off into space as I sent email after email to coaches and agents. I should have been relaxing on a beach or enjoying a nice dinner, but I continued to work toward a dream I couldn’t see. A wave of sadness hit me like a tsunami. I was 25 with nothing to show for my big dreams.
In retrospect, I was actually being selfish. Let's be honest. I was better off than most people, but my lack of accomplishment ate me up from the inside out. Instead of walking in gratitude, I woke up feeling like I was going nowhere fast, like I was wasting time.
Although I felt defeated, something inside me just wouldn't quit. There is no way I could stomach the idea of living a life of regret. Have you ever wanted something so bad you couldn't rest until it was accomplished? How annoying! Especially when you do everything you can without any visible progress.
So what do you do when you work as hard as you can without any results?
Here I am exactly one year from that dreadful day. I just turned 26, and I also just signed my second contract to play professional basketball in Europe.
The power of faith and perseverance is real. Who knows where I would be had I given up last year? My life literally changed in one year!
I know some of you are reading this and you are in desperate need of a life change. You have a dream, but it seems so far away. You've been putting in the work, but you don’t see any results. Trust me, I know the struggle. During my waiting season I learned so much about what it takes to win at life.
I gained timeless wisdom that worked for me, and I know it will help you too.
1. Make A Decision - If you read my article about bouncing back from an injury, then you know this is the first step in the process of recovery. It is so important to know exactly what you want before embarking on any treacherous journey. Imagine walking 5 miles down the road only to realize you want to turn back around and go home. In order to reach your dreams you must have a made up mind. Find your why and it will fuel you when times gets tough.
2. Be Honest With Yourself - About a third of a way into my year and a half long journey, I had an intervention meeting with myself. I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “You are not doing enough”. Plain and simple. Whatever idea of success I previously held, went out of the window. In order to get to my next level, I had to dig deeper. I could have easily deceived myself into believing my current work ethic was going to get me there. Instead, I chose to do the hard thing. If you can look yourself in the eyes knowing you gave it your best shot, nothing can stop you.
3. Always Show Up - During that year and a half, I kept “showing up”. That means I did the work even when I didn’t feel like it. I never got out of shape, because I worked like my opportunity was coming tomorrow. At times I felt discouraged, but I didn't give up. I locked in and developed my self-discipline muscle. Winners don't quit. They show up.
4. Get Away From Doubters - When you are working towards your dream you must get as far away from doubtful people as possible. These people can only hurt you in this season of your life, so limit your conversations with them. Sometimes your doubters mean well. They could be close family or friends who may want to save you from disappointment or help you think “realistically”. They will make you second guess your own dream if you are not careful. Do yourself a favor and surround yourself with people of faith. The doubters will be converted once they see it with their own two eyes.
5. Find The Purpose Of Your Struggle - Honestly, this should have been number 1 on the list. Listen to me very carefully. You are facing adversity for a reason. I believe everything happens for a reason, and you would be wise to believe the same. As I journeyed from day to day, I noticed God was unveiling my purpose as I walked with Him. Once you find the purpose of your struggle, you will start to see beauty in your journey. The highs, the lows - all of it. I now understand that my year and a half of adversity was needed. I became a totally different person during that time. A person who can speak life to others, and a person who truly trusts God.
There will be days when you feel exactly how I felt on my 25th birthday - like giving up. If you persevere however, you will look back on those days in laughter.
You are truly capable of living your dreams. Keep pushing! Don’t quit!
There is a winner in you!