Matt Emmons had the gold medal in sight. He was one shot away from claiming victory in the 2004 Olympic 50-meter three-position rifle event. He didn’t even need a bull’s-eye to win. His final shot merely needed to be close to the center of the target. Normally, the shot he made would have received a score of 8.1, more than enough for a gold medal. But in what was described as “an extremely rare mistake in elite competition,” Emmons fired at the wrong target. Standing in lane two, he fired at the target in lane three. His score for a good shot at the wrong target? Zero. Instead of a medal, Emmons ended up in eighth place. It doesn’t matter how accurate you are if you are aiming at the wrong goal.
Many people invest their entire life aiming at the wrong goal.