By Steve Graf
They say age is just a number, but it’s really a lot more than that. Our age says a lot about who we are, what we’ve been through, and what we can and cannot do anymore. Age puts us in a specific generation and sort of defines who we are. Our age puts limitations on us that sometimes we have to test. For example, can we still stay up after midnight and be able to function the next day? Can we still cut and stack a cord of wood without taking a break? Can we cut our own grass….with a push mower like we did in our younger days? Can we still tie our own shoes, or do we buy slip-ons to avoid bending over? Can we remember the name of the guy we met at the gas station or what we ate for lunch yesterday? These are just a few of the questions that our age dictates.
But one thing that separates us from other primates is the ability to set goals for ourselves. At an early age, we are taught the importance of setting goals by our parents, teachers, and coaches. Some of these goals are unattainable and we know that from the moment we set them…for example, a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, exercise daily, eat out less, do a better job of saving money, spend more time with loved ones, stop drinking, stop smoking, or stop chewing our fingernails. All of us have made these resolutions at one time or another. For some, they make up their mind and commit to accomplishing one or more of these. But understand, these people are not the norm, they are the exceptions!
Goals……what’s the purpose of them if we don’t ever achieve them? The answer to that question; without goals, we as humans have zero to no direction. We need something like a “carrot” dangling out in front of us in order to make us strive to be better individuals. We need a “reason” to push ourselves to be better and attempt to achieve these goals. As a tournament bass angler, my goals have changed over the last 32 years. I started tournament fishing back in 1990 as a way to continue to compete after my playing days as an athlete were over. Yes, for you young readers out there, THAT DAY does come! Anglers need that rush and feeling of accomplishment when we win an event or finished high in the standings.
My commitment to being the best angler comes from my God-given competitive fire I had as an athlete. No matter what sport, I wanted to be the best or play it at a very high level. Otherwise, why play? I’ve always felt that this is a trait you’re born with. Sure, it can be developed to a certain point, but it’s something that comes from within yourself to be the best. In my younger days, late 90’s and early 2000s, my goal was to try and win every event but was ok with a Top 10 finish. I wanted to compete for Angler of the Year (AOY) in every circuit. Even though that goal has yet to be achieved, the goal remains the same each and every year. I’ve had my share of success and a few wins while making several Top 10’s in the BFL’s, Toyota Series, ABA’s and other organizations.
Today, at the age of 61, the stamina or the desire to compete with today’s young guns coming up from the College and High School Series does not exist. Oh, don’t misunderstand, the desire to kick their butts and show them the old man still has it, still exists. But to win today, you must put in the hours of pre-fishing and scouting from sunup to sundown. You have to be the first guy at the ramp in the morning and the last to leave the ramp in the evening. I’m still pretty good and can still do well on any given day, but my desire wains especially when the bite is tough, too hot, too cold and Mother Nature decides she wants to blow 25 MPH creating three-and four-foot waves. Running in rough water and beating my body up worse than playing four quarters of a football game, my priorities have changed and It’s just not as important as it used to be!
So, I guess you could say my goals have changed due to my age. But like all former athletes, we will always think we can beat anyone as long as we are breathing. But in reality, it’s probably not going to happen, at least not as often as it used to. Make sure to keep setting and adjusting your goals because this will keep you young in both heart and soul. Till next time, good luck, good fishing, and don’t forget your sunscreen. Melanoma doesn’t discriminate! Trust me, I know!