What will you do when you run out of goals?


  “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”



Anyone around in the late 70’s and early 80’s can tell you this is the famous slogan from FedEx. Chances are, if you were around in the 70’s, you may have adopted a new personal slogan, “When it absolutely, positively does not matter.”

What will you do when you run out of goals?

In The Secret Advantage, Earl Nightingale tells the story of Fred Smith, who took a mediocre college paper he wrote while at Yale and used the idea to craft the business plan that launched FedEx. The company name is now synonymous with business people all over the globe that say, “FedEx it” instead of “Overnight it.”

He took his passion and made it real. As a young man, he loved aviation and served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam where his duty taught him the ins and outs of logistics.

As Fred Smith entered the age of, “What’s next?” he found a long list of charities and organizations to keep him busy.

Not at all like Warren Schmit, the fictional lead character brought to life by Jack Nicholson in the critically acclaimed and box office success movie, About Schmit. The story is about Warren Schmidt who is forced to retire from his position as an actuary with an insurance company. After a retirement dinner, Schmidt finds it hard to adjust to his new life, feeling useless. After a return visit to his old office, he leaves the building and sees the contents and files of his office, the sum of his entire career, set out for garbage collectors. Schmidt is overcome by loneliness. He stops showering, sleeps in front of the television, and goes shopping with a coat over pajamas to load up on frozen foods. On a footnote to this film, anyone who wants to be an actor must watch Jack Nicholson. The final scene is one of the best examples ever of an actor telling a story with no words, no making faces, just real emotion. He won a Golden Globe Award for best actor in a drama.

Back to the purpose of this article; no one wants to end up like Schmidt.

So, what do we do when we run out of goals?

Earl Nightingale wrote a great story for one of his many radio broadcasts. In that program, he listed these questions:

  1. If you could live your life over and go back to 12 and live your life over, would you do it?
  2. If you could have any career you want, what would it be?
  3. If you could change places with any person on earth, who would that be?
  4. If you could live in any part of the country you would want to live in would you move?

Earl stated that of the numerous studies he had researched on the questions, the vast majority of those surveyed said no.

Why when given the chance to change why do so many resist?

A friend once called his job a position with ‘golden handcuffs.’ Working hard to a point where the risk of change weighs heavier than the reward.

The fact most miss is, most people are all like Schmidt in the movie. Play by the rules, stick to a profession, and one day see your life’s work on the curb with the next stop; the garbage dump. Earl stated in his program that scientists, the self employed, artists, writers, and musicians, seem to escape the peril of wondering what’s next. There’s always a new discovery in science, another song, story or painting. But, what of the insurance actuary like Schmidt. Files in the garbage.

It has been written in Proverbs, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Instead of fearing change, think of these alternatives for your vision of the future:

  • What do you love to do as a hobby?
  • Would you make a career of that hobby if it paid?
  • What do you have to lose if you act on your dream?
  • And, I love Dr. Robert Schuller’s quote, “What great thing would you do, if you knew you could not fail?”

My father became a great example of a person who never ran out of goals. As a young man, he sang with a big band, and in the Army he was the entertainment direct at Pearl Harbor before it was bombed. After the attack he was a Ranger.

Joseph Nuckols, Sr.

When he returned home he built his annuity with the US Postal Service until he retired. Once retired, he found new work in the private sector. Then, became a building inspector, and finally he returned to his first love. Back to entertaining, he performed hundreds of times singing and telling jokes, some off color, to civic organizations all over Virginia. He raised a lot of money never for himself, but for charities like The Shriners Hospital. I duplicated hundreds of cassettes for him to hand out for donations. When he visited me in Chicago at Nightingale Conant and saw the huge plant cranking out thousands of cassettes a minute, his face looked like a kid in a candy store. On his music, Dad liked to joke, “Mickey Gilley sang than song one time and made a million dollars. I sang it a million times and made ten cents.”

He was a good example of what’s next. Do what you love. He did just that until he was ninety-five, so he perished before his dreams.

What about you?

What’s next?

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