Actually, the giving of my blood was quite easy. It was qualifying to give blood that was so difficult! The experience reminded me that once a goal is set, you’ll find ways to make it happen. The key is simply to define and own the goal.
Monday morning, I didn’t intend to give blood. Then at noon that day, Bob Sagebiel told my Rotary club about why military blood drives are so important. He said this was a special drive as we were particularly low on blood. He explained the military must buy blood at retail prices from private blood banks when they are low, military programs cannot ask civilians to donate, and soldiers are often restricted from giving blood for years due to their deployment destinations.
Many years ago, Bob learned civilians can give blood when they form their own volunteer groups and invite the military to participate. So, he organized a group of volunteers and donors and invited the military to collect blood in Fredericksburg. It’s been very successful, with hundreds of units collected each time this town of ten thousand is asked to participate.
The catch is collections must be done at a federal facility and ours is two miles out of town. Nobody drives by this facility and thinks, “Oh, look there’s a blood drive! I can give blood today.” No, if you are driving by the Armory, you saw an email, stopped at a booth at HEB (our local grocery), or were told about it by a friend. It’s clear the program is successful because Bob’s group works very hard to spread the word. Right then and there, I decided to give blood.
It really didn’t occur to me I was setting a goal, but I was. It was clearly defined, had a date, action steps, and measurable result: I would give blood this week, block an hour in my schedule, drive to the facility, and leave a pint of “O positive”. Technically, I even wrote it down – in my calendar.
Easy, right? Well, not this time. I had to work at it, repeatedly. I drove out to the facility three times before I succeeded in giving blood! What’s ironic is before I set the goal, I wasn’t willing to drive out there once, yet after setting it I drove out multiple times, did research in between, and even called upon others to help me out. Once I owned this goal, much effort went into making it happen.
You may wonder what happened. First, I was in Mexico last December, and wasn’t sure how far south of the border I had traveled, so I was asked to come back once it had been a year since my trip. I could easily given up then, but once set, goals have a way of pulling you toward reaching them.
“Once set, goals have a way of pulling you toward them.”
I went online, researched the area we had visited in Mexico, and printed a map showing the longitude and latitude, since the rulebook definition went by these coordinates. My travels were far north of areas of concern. I went back to try again and received a high-five from the volunteer who took my registration and sent me to step two.
Then a new barrier appeared: my teeth were too clean. Yes, normally this is a good thing, but earlier that day I had been to the dentist for a cleaning. There is a rule requiring 24 hours after a cleaning before you can give blood. Seriously?! Yep. Something about bacteria being stirred up which I really didn’t want to imagine. Luckily, I had one more day to try again.
On the way home, I called for back-up, just in case my efforts the next day failed. I did what many people do when they need help. I called Mom. She’s given gallons of blood over the years, but she is new to town and probably didn’t know about the blood drive. If she gave blood because I told her about it, then I could reach my goal that way, and maybe double it myslef by returning the next day.
It was then I realized how my behavior changed once I set my goal. By making the decision and owning the goal, I automatically thought of solutions and aligned my actions to make it work. Rather than giving up after the second try, I awoke determined to try a third time. In my zeal to be successful, Mom learned about the drive and is now an advocate. Best of all, I lost a pint of blood this morning and reached my goal!
I tell you, some goals can be “bloody hell!”, but this one was worth it.