I haven't hit the 2 year mark yet following my open heart surgery of 2014 but it's coming up soon. A week before my open heart surgery, I skated three hockey games and skied two times. I showed up for this life-changing event in the best shape I could in order to take care of my part of the deal.
The other part of this deal belonged to the heart surgeon. He promised me that the better my fitness was coming to the surgery, the faster I would recover. I took this advice seriously by skating over 200 hockey games and by skiing over 200,000 vertical feet in the three years before my open heart surgery.
The week before my surgery, I spoke with the heart surgeon and he helped me to set realistic recovery goals following my surgery. I crushed every single one of my goals. I crushed some of them alone and I crushed some of them with my wife's help. Other goals were crushed with the help of a couple of good friends who are also my hockey and mountain biking buddies.
This beautiful Grand Canyon photo represents my final written goal following open heart surgery. On my white board from April of 2014, I wrote down the goal of hiking the Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim. That trip is now in the planning stages for this Spring.
I have found a thrill seeking adrenaline junkie, goal setting, goal crushing person just like me who has expressed an interest in helping me to crush yet another goal.
In mid-April of 2014, I was informed by the heart surgeon that a genetic problem in my heart that he’d been monitoring for the previous 4 years had gotten worse. It was time for me to have open heart surgery. I was physically ready for this event. While the surgeon was monitoring my heart for 4 years, I had skated over 200 hockey games, I’d ridden more miles than I can remember on my bikes and I had skied hundreds of thousands of vertical feet over 4 ski seasons. I was ready or so I thought.
I asked the surgeon when he thought I should go through the surgery. His response offered a time “next week” or “two weeks from now”. The idea of open heart surgery didn’t scare me as much as the reality of “next week” or “two weeks from now”. It was at that moment that I realized that recovering from open heart surgery would require more than just physical fitness. This would be a mental and emotional battle that I did not yet understand.
I reluctantly agreed on a date “two weeks from now”. I proceeded to ask the surgeon questions to give me an idea of how long it would be before I could live my life again. For me, living life means doing a lot of physically demanding things. I didn’t care much for the surgeon’s answers. I call these types of answers good to know and bad to hear. You need to know but you sure won’t like the way you feel once you know the truth.
What I did learn however was that the surgeon was all for me getting back on my feet as quickly as possible. Like me, the surgeon was a mountain biker. He was even more enthusiastic than I anticipated he would be about seeing me back on my bike and back on my skates to play hockey.
When I got home, I wrote everything the surgeon just said on my white board. On my white board I established specific dates throughout the summer of 2014 when I would return to skates, when I would hike, when I would play hockey, when I would get back on the mountain bike and more.
The hockey stick pictured above played a part in my goal setting. I bought the stick a week before my surgery date. Hockey sticks are not inexpensive. Conventional thinking would have suggested that I wait to buy the stick until I could actually use the stick. I bought this stick just before my surgery as a way of forcing myself to stay focused on the written goal of getting back on the ice. I knew how my wife would react if I spent money on the stick but never used it! I had no choice but to get back on the ice.
Because my goals for heart surgery recovery were written and known to a few people whom I knew would help me to stay accountable, I reached and crushed every goal I set related to my heart surgery recovery. Nothing about this recovery was easy. Nobody could have told me about all the unforeseen circumstances I would face during my recovery. I put blinders on and stayed focused on the goals that were written on my white board.
Goals can be wrapped around just about anything. They need to be realistically achievable and measurable. You can keep your goals to yourself but you’ll be far more likely to achieve your goals if you share them with a few people who can keep you accountable and maybe even help you when you run into unforeseen obstacles.
Create achievable and measurable goals. Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed. Put blinders on and DO IT!