Achieving Your Dreams by Working Your Goals

I was about eight years old as I walked along our thick carpet, past the pictures of my grandparents on the hallway walls and into my parents' bedroom. I announced that I was going to play for the Yankees. They were already in their pajamas, but they patiently listened to what their skinny son with the wavy brown hair and green eyes had said, and then told me the type of thing I was aching to hear.

They told me that I could do anything I wanted in life if I worked hard enough and stayed dedicated to it, which was like offering me season tickets. Forget about lounging in the box seats, because, in my mind, I was heading straight for the dugout. Before I was nine years old.

What It Takes to be a Major Leaguer

My parents could have gently put me off and told me to go to sleep that night, but instead were receptive to my dream and talked about what it would take to achieve such a difficult goal. They sat me on the edge of the bed and told me that if I was serious about being a professional baseball player, I had to realize I wouldn't just be competing against players from Kalamazoo or from Michigan, but against players from all over the world.

Everyone in the Westwood Little League where I played wanted to be a major leaguer, my mother and father emphasized. The competition to be good enough to make it to the majors will be ferocious, they told me. But I didn't blink. I didn't focus on that right away. I had a dream and I was ecstatic, because they didn't say it couldn't be done -- just that it would be tough to accomplish this goal.

I used to imitate announcers doing play-by-play, with me as the star, of course. "Deep to left," I'd bellow, "and that ball is gone! Jeter has done it again!" I probably weighed 70 pounds with two rolls of quarters in my pockets when I was eight, so the idea of me hitting a ball 420 feet someday was just a dream. When all of my questions about being a Yankee were exhausted that night, my parents told me it was time to go to sleep. I went to bed, clinging to the blanket and to my dream. My dream remained with me, from the time I was eight until the time I was 18, and it stays with me now. It never left. It got stronger. It kept pushing me to get exactly where I am today.

Setting Your Goals High

I think we should all set goals in life and set them high. I did that, and my parents encouraged me to do it, which is one of the main reasons I am where I am today. I had a vision about playing baseball, and my parents used that positive vision to establish guidelines that would enable me to grow as a person while I pursued my dream. From setting high goals to dealing with growing pains, to surrounding myself with trustworthy friends, to understanding that the world can be an unfair place, to obeying and loving my parents, to thinking before I acted, I was learning about life while I was yearning to be a Yankee.

But it all starts with setting goals -- we all need them. Whether your goal is to play for the Yankees or to win the pie-eating contest at summer camp, goals are what motivate us to do better. My ultimate dream was to play major-league baseball, but I had smaller goals along the way.

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No matter how elated I was on that night in my parents' bedroom, I wasn't going to be a major leaguer at the age of nine. I chased my dream through smaller goals. Making the Little League All-Star Team, starting on the high school varsity as a freshman, making all-district, making all-state, and so on, until I eventually wound up at shortstop for the Yankees. But, believe me, there were dozens, even hundreds, of small goals that led me to the point where I finally became a Yankee.

Important and Serious Questions

We all have to start somewhere. Think about it. What do you love to do? What are you good at? What is something you would like to do for the rest of your life? These are important and serious questions, questions that you might not feel like answering before you graduate from high school.

Some people even get to college, or after, and still can't answer them. But you really should think about them as soon as possible, because when you find that interest, that goal that excites you like nothing else, you'll want to open your bedroom window and yell it to anyone with ears: Guess what I'm going to do with my life!

A feeling will envelop you and you'll treat that goal like it is the most important thing in the world, acting the same passionate way I used to act about baseball. No matter who asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told them I was going to play baseball and I was going to play for the Yankees. I was so confident in my abilities and so consumed with my dream that I wanted to shout out my intentions.

Your Goals Get You to Your Dreams

If you don't set goals, you're not going to have dreams, either. The goals are the achievements along the way to get you to your dreams. Dreams don't just happen, and you're not going to make your pursuit easier by being lazy about it. The longer you wait to decide what you want to do, the more time you're wasting.

It's up to you to want to do something so badly that your passion shows in your actions. Your actions, not your words, will do the shouting for you. People will see how devoted and prepared you are as the captain of the debate team, and they might say, "One day, that kid is going to be a great lawyer."

Once you've set goals and pondered what kind of dream you want those goals to lead to, it's extremely helpful to have someone who can support you. It might be your parents, a sibling, a teacher, or a friend, but we all need somebody who is going to be there to prop us up when things aren't going well and to keep us levelheaded when things are going very well. My parents provided this for me.

Excerpted by permission of Crown, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. Copyright 2000. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Article Source:

The Life You Imagine: Life Lessons for Achieving Your Dreams
by Derek Jeter with Jack Curry.

The Life You Imagine by Derek Jeter with Jack Curry.In this inspiring, information-packed book, Derek provides you with the ten lessons that have guided him throughout his life on and off the field, from his dream of being a gifted, hardworking athlete to his goal of becoming an active community leader. Using personal stories from his own life as a student athlete in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and as a Yankee team player, Derek writes about the simple steps that put him on course for success.

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About The Authors

Derek JeteDerek Jeter is the starting shortstop for the New York Yankees and is the founder of the Turn 2 Foundation. He divides his time between Tampa, Florida, and New York City. He is the author of The Life You Imagine: Life Lessons for Achieving Your Dreams as well as Game Day: My Life on and off the Field

Jack Curry is a baseball columnist and reporter for the New York Times.

Video/Interview - Derek Jeter's Top 10 Rules For Success
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