Tag Archives: goals

For 2022, set the goal that’s right for you

Now’s typically the time we start thinking about goals for the year ahead. We all do it. By and large, it’s a good thing. By and large, because we get locked into a way of thinking that doesn’t always reflect what our true goals are.

For instance, when we think of goals we tend to think in terms of physical goals. New Years goals over the years have come to be associated with our health, specifically with weight loss. So while our stated goal may not be to lose 35 pounds by swimsuit season by hiking, that may well be our underlying motivator. “I’m going to hike twice a week,” or I’m going to hike 20 miles a week,” may not be overtly about weight loss, but that might well be the underlying factor. The problem? Having such a metric-driven goal may diminish the joy you get out of hiking. Rather than looking for 5-mile hike with lots of scenic stops for a given Saturday, you may opt instead for a longer hike where you’ll burn more calories. Eventually, it becomes like going to the gym. And we all know how successful that New Year’s goal generally is. read more

Your goal: Make 2019 a year to remember

On Tuesday’s GetHiking! New Year’s Day hike, I was struck by how many of the hikers had hiking goals—ambitious ones—for 2019. Vaughn committed to five backpack trips in the first half of the year, and Linda was good for at least three. Deb was booked for an adventure in South Africa, and was planning to visit New Zealand. One hiker planned to complete a section hike of the 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

New Year’s Day is filled with hope, and these folks had already taken a first step toward  seeing that hope become reality. Their secret? They’ve made it a habit over the past several years to make plans early, so they didn’t wind up on December 31 thinking, “Where did the year go?”

For a variety of reasons, not all of us excel at planning ahead. Sometimes, we simply don’t know where to start to plan an adventure. Sometimes, we hesitate because we aren’t sure we’re up for the challenge, and sometimes we pick a challenge that may not be realistic, at least in the way we envision tackling it. Sometimes, we aren’t even sure what it is we want to do. Here are four thoughts on how to make 2019 a year to remember:  

  • What’s realistic? You say you want to spend 50 nights in a tent, but is that feasible? What about your other obligations, your family, for instance? Do you have enough time off from work to get 50 nights in? You can quickly derail a goal by setting it, realizing it’s not possible, then abandoning it altogether. Better to set realistic, but still ambitious, expectations. Start with, say, one night a month in a tent.
  • Where do I want to go? Let’s say one of your goals is to take a weeklong backpack trip. Here are some questions to ask: Where do you want to go? Do you want to go alone? Would you like to go with locals familiar with the area? What season is best? And what specific gear will you need for where you’re going?
  • I want to experience “the best.” Maybe you want to hike the best trails in the state. So, er, what are the best trails? And by “best” do you mean trails with the best views? The best waterfalls? The best old growth forest? Try to define what’s most appealing to you to find your personal best.
  • How do I prepare? Here’s a popular goal: Climbing a fourteener—that is, a peak that tops out at 14,000 feet or above (there are 54 in Colorado, prime country for achieving this goal). So ask: Where can I find trails around here that will prepare me for the elevation gains I’ll face? What about the altitude issue — how do I prepare for that? And what’s a good fourteener to start with?
  • read more

    The One Thing

    “The one thing,” Curly tells Mitch, displaying his black-gloved index finger. “Just one thing.”

    “That’s great,” says Mitch. “But what’s the one thing?”

    “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.”

    The mystery of  “the one thing” is what drove “City Slickers,” the 1991 comedy about three New Yorkers taking a dude ranch vacation to find the answer to life’s most persistent question: What is the meaning of life?

    The answer is no mystery. It’s really pretty obvious. The meaning of life?

    Be happy.

    Last week, we shared a week’s worth of tips for living healthier in 2017. We offered specific tips (eat smart, eat simple), we offered philosophical tips (don’t just set a goal, set the right goal), we offered direction (in the form of First Day hikes to help you get your year off to an active start). But it all starts with being happy, because if the path you choose doesn’t make you happy, you won’t be on that path for long. Contrary to puritan ethics, happiness is not a demonic indulgence. It is the key to survival.

    If you truly aim to be healthier in 2017, let happiness be your guide. There are a surprising number of ways to eat healthy and happy. Eat simple foods, sure, but indulge every once in a while. Experiment. As our blossoming awareness of food allergies attests, different foods work for different people. A happy body will let you know the diet you need to embrace. Listen.

    The same with movement. The reason so many workout resolutions fail so quickly (most fizzle by the third week of January) is that they feel like just that, work. Being active is about so much more than sweating and losing weight: the physical benefits are important, but so are the mental benefits of a mind freed by movement (a mind that’s not so free when it’s focused on pain). One of the reasons we avidly promote hiking through our GetHiking! program is that even when a hike does feel like work, that work is often leading to a worthwhile goal: a mountaintop vista, a waterfall, an old-growth forest. Even then, the distractions of the woods — the solitude, the quiet — free your mind to go where it rarely gets the chance.

    So if the cottage cheese diet is fulfilling, go for it. If working the Abdominizer puts a smile on your face, good for you. For you, those are the smart choices.

    And the happy ones, too.


    If you missed them, here are last week’s posts for a healthier 2017:

    In 2017, don’t just set a goal, set the ‘right’ goal

    Chris David atop Wayah Bald.

    The following originally ran on Jan. 1, 2012. We rerun it today with minor tweaks.

    “You know,” Chris said, “there aren’t too many people who could do this.” After catching his breath, he added, “And I don’t mean people our age. I mean people, period.”

    We were on day three of a four-day, 50-mile backpack trip on a particularly rugged region of the rugged Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina. Specifically, we were about a third of the way up a climb that would see us gain close to a thousand vertical feet in less than a mile. It was not the first such climb we had encountered. In fact, much of this trip had been something of a roller coaster, with long, slow, steep climbs followed by long, slow, steep descents. My quads and calves ached on the former, my knees on the latter. Yet here we were, me at 55, Chris David at 67, plugging along at a good clip, averaging about 2.5 miles per hour.
    Chris’s proclamation wasn’t old guy braggadocio or uninformed speculation. He’s been backpacking since the early 1960s, thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1983, and has been leading hikes for the Sierra Club for more than a decade. He’s hiked with beginners, he’s hiked with people who are on the trail as much as he is. He knows backpackers.
    “I’d say about 1 percent,” he said, making up a statistic to represent our uniqueness. “No, make that one tenth of 1 percent.”
    I found some satisfaction in Chris’s assessment, but I was mainly just glad that I could do this type of a trip. That I could hike all day with 35 pounds on my back, that I could experience the winter-clear 360-degree view from atop 5,342-foot Wayah Bald, that I could stand beneath London Bald and stare down a treed bobcat not 10 feet away, that I could survive the wild gorge trying to contain Ledbetter Creek and stand atop Cheoah Bald, enshrouded in a cold rain trying to turn to snow wondering what the view might be like. That I, an absent-minded guy who is just as likely to find his car keys in the fridge as in the key bowl, would be able to remember nearly every step of this trip two weeks hence.
    That reminded me of the one other thing I’m good at remembering, the thing that made it possible for me to be here in the first place:
    The importance of setting the right goals.

    A carrot worth tasting

    Set a goal and the rest will follow. Advice that may seem obvious as we head into a new year, a time when so many of us are intent on erasing our bad habits and charting a new course. Goals are the carrots we employ to help us achieve an end to a means. Unfortunately, many of us won’t make it to February with our goal for the year intact.
    We may set goals, but often we don’t set the right goals, the goals that we’re truly motivated to achieve.
    Take Chris. Chris is a long-time runner, with 68 marathons under his belt since his first, the Marine Corps, in 1986. But it’s not the races that continue motivating him to run 50 miles a week. It’s the opportunity to do trips such as this, or his recent 63-mile backpack trip through the Smokies, or the 155-mile solo trip he did in the Nantahalas a couple years back. Or that make him think about another thru-hike on the AT. Backpacking in the wild is his true motivation.
    My mountain biking buddy Peter Hollis is likewise driven by what for him is the right goal. Most people either lie about their age or demure when the topic is broached. Peter is likely to bring up his age, apropos of nothing, in the first sentence or two of an encounter.
    At the start of the Huck-A-Buck cross-country mountain bike race at Lake Crabtree this summer, Peter lamented the fact that they didn’t announce our ages at the start (at 59, he was the oldest contestant — and proud of it). When I ran into him riding at Umstead later on, the second thing he said (after updating me on trail conditions), was, “Well, as of January 1 my race age for this year is 60.” Peter claims he races to stay in shape, not to win. But he’s quick to add that he wants to be the fastest 60-year-old on the trail, and if he can whip some 40- and 30-year-olds in the process (which he does), so much the better. Being able to ride a gray streak is his true motivation, his real goal.

    What’s ‘right’ for you?

    Setting the right goal may require a little introspection.
    Take the No. 1 health-related goal that so many people will set for the new year: to lose weight. Is it really the weight that’s important? Is it strictly a numbers game, to see the scale record 10 fewer pounds by the end of January, 10 fewer still by Leap Day?
    Or is weight loss a secondary benefit of your true goal? Is your true goal to fit into a size 4 dress  by prom? To abandon your 1920s-fashionable tank suit for a bikini come summer? To shave three minutes off your 5K time? Focus on your true goal and secondary benefits, such as weight loss, will follow.
    Knowing your true goal will also make it easier to come up with an effective strategy for reaching said goal.
    During my junior year in college (my second junior year), I had managed to balloon up over 200 pounds going into winter break. For Christmas, Santa brought me a lime green polyester Addidas running suit. The running boom of the ‘70s was just kicking in and I decided then and there that I would be able to run 5 miles by the end of the semester. Starting that afternoon and continuing for the next four months I put one foot in front of the other faster and more often than I had the day before.
    Darned if the semester didn’t come to an end and I was running 5 miles. And darned if I hadn’t lost 45 pounds in the process. Walking across the quad one day in April, a former suitemate whom I hadn’t seen in a while stopped me, eyes agog, and asked, “What the hell happened to you?”
    I hesitated, both to let my friend twist over what he could only be thinking — that I was deathly ill, because in our acquaintance I had never once demonstrated anything resembling discipline or restraint — but also to ponder the question: What the hell had happened to me?
    I thought back to my rotund self sitting next to the Christmas tree contemplating the lime green polyester Addidas running suit which had inspired my true goal.
    “I became a runner.”

    * * *

    Adventure Coaching

    Need help determining the right goal for you — then mapping a course in how to achieve it? We offer an Adventure Coaching service that helps you determine an ambitious, realistic and relevant goal (or goals) and helps you map a course to meet that goal. Then, we stick with you as coach and confidant until your goal is achieved. We’ll talk more about the service tomorrow. Or, go here today.