I could feel the wind jostling my hair. It wasn’t the kind of wind that knocks you back, but it was there letting me know that at that height, there was nothing to obstruct it. Behind me I heard the words of my friends Charles and James cheering me on. When I took the first step that would eventually lead me to this place, my heart was full of courage and confidence. The obstacle seemed small, the danger non-existent. But now I’d come to the end of my journey. My perspective had changed. I’d signed the waiver, strapped on the harness, climbed the seemingly endless flights of stairs, and fastened myself to an umbilical cord of rubber bands. Staring down at the parking lot below, the airbag that would break my fall in case of failure now seemed a lot smaller. For that matter, the trees, cars, buildings, people…everything seemed smaller. There was nothing left to do but trust all the processes and people who’d helped me get to this point, to lean on the experience of those who’d walked this path before, and see for myself whether or not the bungee cord would hold.
Last week we talked about establishing metrics and guidelines that will help you measure progress toward achieving your goal. That journey, regardless of how long and winding it may be, always requires the act of putting one foot in front of the other in the best way we can conceive at that moment. Eventually, you will find yourself on the precipice of your goal. It’s so close you can feel it.
When I first made a goal of getting an MGB GT, I envisioned reaching other goals first. One of the main goals I wanted to reach first was getting my wife a new car. At the time, this was the end of 2018, and her car was a 2000 Honda Civic, which essentially made it a 19 year old car. She did much more driving than I did, so it made more sense for her to get a new car first. But she went all in on putting an MGB GT in the garage, so coupled with my bulldog mentality of not letting go on something like this until I reach it, I sunk my teeth in and went full steam ahead.
In some ways the path to finding the right car was much longer than expected, and in other ways, it was much shorter than expected. When I first wrote that goal down, I expected it to take 1-3 years for me to reach it. But once we went all in on it, I thought I’d find the right car in about a month. However, that wasn’t the case.
As I mentioned last week, I constantly checked various classic car websites, and even set up alerts to ping me when a new MGB GT was listed. I found several that looked good in a lot ways, but there was always something that made it fall short.
For me, there were some things I refused to compromise on. The perfect MGB GT had to have no rust, period. That’s a tall order for a car that is over 40 years old and has a reputation for being highly prone to rust. It needed to have a clean engine bay with a rebuilt motor. It had to have a 5 speed transmission or overdrive. It had to have a clean interior. The paint had to be sharp. I’m mechanically inclined, but I didn’t want a project car. I didn’t mind making minor repairs or updates, but I didn’t want to deal with major stuff. Oh, and I really didn’t want to spend over $13k unless it was really special.
Due to my scoring system, it became clear quickly that nothing would be a 100% match. Of the 29 cars that were good enough for me to chart, only 17 scored above 60%, only 7 of those scored above 70%, only 4 scored above 80%, and only 1 scored above 90%. The one that scored above 90% was nearly perfect. It was indeed a special car, but at a selling price of $20k, it was too far out of my budget.
Finally one day I found one that stood out. Even though red wasn’t one of my preferred colors, this one was extraordinarily sharp looking. The paint was clean and sparkled in the sun. The chrome was brilliant. The rear bumper had been removed and filled in to give it a clean, smooth look. The font was slightly lowered and an air dam had been installed to give it a slightly aggressive look. The engine was rebuilt, the interior was new, it had a modern air conditioner installed, and there was no rust. After all of that, she only scored an 81.5% on my spreadsheet, which goes to show how impossible it was to get a high score.
I sent a few emails to the owner and got good answers to my questions. It was located a few miles from a friend of mine in Georgia, and my friend agreed to go give it a test drive. I gave my friend a list of questions to ask and things to look for, and he sent me back more photos and videos of the car. While not perfect, this car certainly looked like it could be the one! The owner agreed to fix a few of the issues my friend found and we agreed on a price. A few days later, the beautiful flame red 1972 MGB GT was on its way to Oklahoma!
You would think that after all that planning, after all the knowledge I’d acquired about these cars, after getting the full support of my wife, after finding a car that matched my specifications so closely, that I would have no reservations, no fears about making the purchase. However, that was most certainly not the case.
It was similar to that time I bungee jumped with my friends. Despite hearing my step-brother talk about it the year before, despite seeing all the safety measures in place, despite having the encouragement and support of my friends, and despite having made the journey to the top of the tower, there’s still a moment of truth that you have to confront to complete your journey.
You’re at the end of a journey that you have fought hard, poured yourself into, sacrificed for, planned every detail, and envisioned night after night as you drive off into dreamland. Yet you stand there ready to deliver the final blow to the dragon you have fought, plant your flag at the peak of the mountain you have climbed, harvest the fruit of your tireless efforts, only to be met with doubt that taking the final step is the right move to make.
Indeed, the beast of impostor syndrome may lash out at you causing you to pause before striking the final blow. It may cause you to wonder if the whole exercise has been a mistake. It might cause you to wonder if taking the final step will be dunce cap shaped crown instead of the crown of achievement, you’d initially envisioned.
Or maybe it’s just me.
No? It’s not just me? You’re right. Feeling this way is common. Last minute fear and doubt is real and it’s a liar. Fear and doubt want to hold you back. They want to keep you restrained to the boundaries of comfort you’ve become familiar with. Their voices want to tell you that you don’t deserve what you’re about to achieve. Don’t listen to those lies. Call them out for what they are.
Standing there on top of that tower, Charles and James encouraging me on, I looked out across the horizon. I closed my eyes, drew a deep breath, opened my eyes back up, because I did not want to miss the view. I leaned over and let gravity do its thing. In a moment, the wind whipped across my face as my body raced toward earth. A second later the bungee cord broke my fall and pulled me back toward the heavens. And just like that, it was over. I’d faced my fears, achieved my goal, and got the t-shirt to prove it. Not only that, I’d earned a story that I get to tell for the rest of my life. My life changed that day by taking that final step and shutting out the voices of doubt and fear.
You’ve made it to the end of your journey. Take that final step and grab that goal. You’ve EARNED it!
I’m Darrell Darnell, and this has been Stuff I Learned Yesterday episode 577, “Take the Plunge.” Next week we’ll learn a lesson from dealing with a goal that doesn’t live up to your expectation. Stuff I Learned Yesterday is part of the Golden Spiral Media podcast network. Join me on Twitter at GSMPodcasts, Facebook, or our feedback page.