In honor of football returning, I write this piece in homage to the legend that spent his career as a role model for how the game should be played. As a lifelong Indianapolis Colts fan, I speak of no other than Peyton Manning himself. In 18 years of watching excellence displayed on the field of play, his parting words are what imparted the most knowledge upon me. He stated, “There were other players who were more talented but there was no one could out-prepare me, and because of that I have no regrets.” There’s always someone smarter, stronger, faster, than us and these are things outside of our control, but one thing we can handle is how prepared we are to perform. Then goes the question, just how do we prepare ourselves for leaving each opportunity with no regret?
Goal setting is a fine to start to being prepared, but the issue with goal setting is that we don’t live life in a montage zooming from one goal to the next. No, we live down in the weeds working day to day to achieve these goals. I’ve been taught daily, weekly, and monthly goal setting as well, but the idea of a carrot on a stick dangling in front of me is what comes to mind. Setting up a goal and just driving to the end at all costs lead individuals to falling out of love with the journey and focused solely on the destination. Instead we have to fall in love with the process, or at least find some type of enjoyment in the mundane. The big moments are only the smallest part of what we do as individuals. Working to get that next position is falling in love with the idea of a role and not the actual role itself.
One method that works for me is focusing more on my daily role by using a planner. I’ve quickly learned that when in doubt write it down because it’ll be appreciated later on. For those who’ve never used one, myself included until now, planners are useful because instead of spending time thinking about what you have to do, you get a quick resource to look for the answers about your life. Rather than wasting valuable time reaching into the deepest archives of your mind trying to remember what you have to do that day, you can spend more time engaging your day to day life as an experience vs. a list of tasks to complete in a day.
Ultimately we should think of our career in the same sense of our education. For many that education revolved around working for grades and then dumping the information as soon as possible. In this regards our careers easily become the same thing, with us focused on getting the job titles and being drug down by the daily responsibilities that come with any given role. I challenge everyone, myself included, to look more at the duties of the role when applying and to explicitly ask what a day in that role is like in our next interview. There will always be a different job, at a bigger school, in a bigger conference, vice versa and so on to dream about. However, until we fall in love with preparing ourselves for these roles by enjoying the day to day grind of the opportunities we are fortunate to have, then we won’t be able to leave our careers satisfied and free of regret. If we can enjoy the journey then we’ll only appreciate the destination even more, and a generation of professionals appreciative of our roles can only serve to aid the industry as a whole.
Erick Taylor is an aspiring college sports professional and MPSA candidate attending Texas A&M University. Originally from the Greater Atlanta area, Erick received his bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University, where he also served as a development intern for the Panther athletic department. A young, relatively inexperienced prospect in this industry, Erick is in search of the tools and skills required for success. By sharing his journey, he hopes to help others achieve their professional goals as well.