The Goal Getter, by Gerry Duffy

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The Goal Getter, by Gerry Duffy, is a self help book, even though it felt different from what I recall this genre feeling like when I read it. It did not come across as cheesy or cheap. It sounded like good achievable advice.


Gerry Duffy, the author, took on some very interesting sports challenges throughout his life and, even though he may be successful in other areas, it was him running 32 marathons in 32 days that made me believe in pretty much everything he wrote in this book. It is important to trust a writer when you are reading a self help book and that was accomplished even for someone who just stumbled upon it without any previous knowledge of the author. Someone who overcomes a challenge like that must have some good advice to give on the topic of achieving goals.

This blog post is only a hint of what you can find in The Goal Getter, which I certainly advise you to get your hands on. There are only two things I should warn you about before reading the actual book: lots of the examples are sports-based, which I found interesting, and there is an abundant use of repetition, which I felt pertinent. (If not mentioned otherwise, quotes included in this post are literally transcribed from the book.)


What you can learn with The Goal Getter

1. On how to face life in general:

Be thankful

‘Getting’ to do something is the true blessing that we often forget in life.

Stop saying “I have to” and start saying “I get to”. I am able to work at three jobs at the same time because I have got a support system that helps me accomplish that at the same time as I keep working towards my other goals. I am not obliged to work, nor am I forced to work this much, I do it because I love it and because I can.

Be positive

The “happiness advantage” is showed in this video from TEDx Talks that Duffy shared. In it the speaker exposes how a positive attitude may help you changing how you interact with the world around you and reaching your goals. He gives a list of five “positive changes” to help you engage in a more positive mindset (3 Gratitudes; Journaling; Exercise; Meditation; Random Acts of Kindness).

“We create success or failure on the course primarily by our thoughts”, Gary Player

Commit to speaking a new (positive) language from here.

Be daring

Don’t limit your possibilities by saying you are too old to take on a challenge.

Underneath each one of us there may be a hidden talent waiting to be uncovered. It is our choice either to try and maybe find it or else to idle while life passes by.

Take care of your body

It is important to eat a healthy breakfast to get your body started each day. It is also okay to have a treat once in a while but most of the time wiser choices should be done in order to feel good.

Eat well, perform well.

Exercising before your day starts wakes-up your body and gets it ready for what is ahead of you later. Exercising regularly may improve your perspective on life, helping you set a positive mindset. It is important that people do not stop working out throughout the years or else their body will act accordingly and, besides losing the benefits of regular exercise, they will suffer the consequences of sedentarism. A usual excuse to not exercise is not having time for it, to which Duffy answers:

You will find time for anything you are committed to.

The first week working at those three jobs I currently have exhausted me, both physically and mentally. I had an 11 day rest period, which helped, obviously, but then I needed to get back to my schedule. The plan I came up with was not to do too many extra hours and to keep trying to sleep the same 8 hours that have been part of my routine for the last two years. We have to respect our body and give it the rest it asks for. Even though we have to work hard to achieve our goals, it is also important to stop sometimes and recharge. The key is to push yourself when you are in conditions to do so but, if you feel unwell, you have got to respect that first of all.

Our body is a vehicle that takes us to our goals. If we overuse the vehicle, it will not perform at its optimum and if pushed too far, it will become very uncooperative.


2. On how to set goals:

Write your goals down and keep them visible – it helps you hit them more often.

Writing down our goals is something probably most of us have heard before. I have done it before but not in a way in which I was committed with them. Invariably, I drop the paper or the digital document. It is necessary to make a contract out of it and write something specific, including a deadline. I will give you the example of a few of my next goals:

  • I will be completely vegan by December 2018.
  • I will have ran a 10k run by April 2018.
  • I will have a zero TBR by December 2019.

When planning something daring, alongside you ‘goal’ and your ‘how to get there’ list, write down your ‘whys’.

The idea behind joining our “whys” to our goals on paper is that keeping connected with the reasons why you want to achieve your goal may give you that extra motivation needed to achieve it. Here are the ‘how to get there’ and ‘whys’ related with one of my goals:

  • I will have ran a 10k run by April 2018.

     How to get there:

  1. I will restart running on the 2nd October 2017.
  2. I will run at least three days per week.
  3. I will have ran a 5k run by December 2017.


  1. I want to be mentally stable.
  2. I do not want to feel tired.
  3. I want to meet other people that enjoy running.


3. On how to get goals:

 Create a clear vision of success

Create a clear vision of what your success looks like and store it in your mind. It has to be a detailed vision, you will use it all the way until you reach your goal. When you feel like you are lacking motivation, look back at that vision and you will find strength to achieve your goal. After giving this theory some thought, I realized I indeed had a vision, which involves working as a physiotherapist for a sports team in Ireland. As you can imagine, this will be a massive undertaking. Using that picture of me standing in a football field successfully treating a football player will help me keep going. If losing the desire to do something you need to do in order to accomplish a future goal, “visualization followed by actions can reignite your enthusiasm”.

Respect your goal

Respect your goal and stop accepting less than initially intended. It is not at all unusual for me to start by aiming for an unrealistic goal and to stop when I achieve what seems close enough. The solution may be to aim for realistic possibilities and go all the way. There are no 90 something per cents.

 Undersell and over-perform

If you are still way behind the goal you want to achieve, it may be wiser to avoid sharing it just yet. In case it does not turns into a reality, it will damage your credibility. Get closer to your goal before you share it with other people.


“The more I practice, the luckier I get”, Gary Player

“Enthusiasm is more important to mastery than innate ability, it turns out, because the single most important element in developing an expertise is your willingness to practice.”, Gretchen Rubin

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”, Michael Jordan

It is through little stretches every week that we will reach goals that seem out of our abilities. If feeling you are not as apt for something as other people are, the solution may be to practice more than those others in order to achieve the same results.

Divide your goal into parts

In order to reach a goal, it may be easier to tear it apart into several stages. Let us say four, such as instructed in the book we are studying. As you get closer to your destination (may it be whatever your goal is), it is the norm that you will be more challenged and it is possible that you may even need a little help to get through the final stage. That is okay. Divide your goal into stages and enjoy reaching each one of them, being aware not to give a step bigger than your leg. When you reach each stage, it is time to evaluate what you have done wrong, since it is that experience that will help you not repeat those mistakes again.

You may also devide a goal that will take some time to achieve and split it into the incremental amounts that you will achieve each day or hour.

A mental trick that also can be used is to give the final goal a number. Every step of the way will then be related to a number before the final one, which you need to pass through to reach the final one. The important thing is to keep going and the final goal will surely arrive.

Face your achievements

“By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you’ve achieved, you can actually enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgement and appreciation are what give you the insights and the awareness to move forward towards higher goals and accomplishments.”, Jack Canfield

Instead of thinking back to all of the failures in the past, face the achievements you have accomplished. This may help you reach the realization that you are able to achieve what you are currently proposing to yourself. If you score your achievements according to how hard it was to achieve them, it may help you compare your current project with those and possibly realize it is even easier to achieve than some of your past ones. That may encourage you.

My proudest achievements to date are:
1. Getting three jobs approx. a month after graduating college (difficulty 5)
2. Graduating Physiotherapy (difficulty 7)
3. Publishing a story for the Madeira Torres school paper (difficulty 2)
4. Writing two books, even though they weren’t accepted for publishing YET (difficulty 4)
5. Creating and managing the YouTube channel Gaming Readers (difficulty 6)

As you can read from the list of my proudest achievements, I haven’t done anything worth over an 8 difficulty wise. It will surely happen in the future but I am still young and inexperienced and I am not worried about that. Instead, I am proud I did all this with only 22 years of age. The reason I am so proud is the fact that I overcame my depressive symptoms along the way to the final goal.

Also, if you have done something similar in the past, it is likely you will be able to achieve what you want to now.

Talk with other people

Talking with someone who achieved what you are committed to achieve, or even something similar, may be what it takes to give you the ability to do so. As a new graduate, I am currently learning a lot only by exchanging throughts with other physiotherapists. Phone a friend who you think can help you with your task and you can save yourself days of worry.

“I have also (…) learned that we are the sum of the average five or six people whom we spend the most time with.”, says Duffy. In order to help you achieve your goals, you may surround yourself with people that have skills important to you, people who motivate you and role models in general. Beware of negative people that may have an impact in your positive mindset and set you back. Be inspired by other people that achieved what you are trying to.

Feedback is the key for us to know what we could improve next in our behaviour. Since we are bias when we analize our behaviour, other people may be better judges of it than we are. It is not about accepting every criticism but at least giving it a thought and knowing when it is valid. It also works for a business, where you may benefit by asking your clients what they think went wrong with a particular transaction or experience and what you could do to improve. One option is to use questionnaires to gather feedback from your clients, as long as they are open to writing instead of simple rating, such as explained by Duffy.

Be committed even though you are struggling

If you are struggling at something, simply project yourself forward in time, to how you are going to feel when it is accomplished.

Sometimes I find myself caught up in something that terrifies me. My mind gets stuck in the fear of it, which only makes the possibility of succeding at the task ahead diminish. The simple solution offered here is that we keep thinking about a time in the future when the task we are dreading is over and just keep going towards that time. Time will not stop because we are afraid of something and that is why we can be sure that that something will be gone by that specific time. This works if you are running a marathon, if you are giving a public speech, if you are treating a lot of patients in a day at your private clinic. It is about just keep moving forward, delivering what you are expected to deliver, and knowing it will be over.

Commitment is doing the thing you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.


Formula for success

1. Decide what you want:
2. Take action;
3. Notice what is or isn’t working (and admit it);
4. Change your approach until you achieve what you want.



Author: Alexandra Pedro

A Portuguese woman living in Ireland with too many interests.

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