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Achieve More with Linked Goals

Photo Credit: John Titgemeyer

Photo Credit: John Titgemeyer

Readers of my blog posts know that I have a big goal this year to walk the Bruce Trail end-to-end.  It is now 7 months in and I am approximately 40% complete, having walked weekly through three seasons.

One advantage of living in Mississauga and choosing the Bruce is that half the trail is accessible by driving in day trips.  Soon, we are going to be out of reach that way and so our trips will be less frequent but more intense.  I am enjoying walking so much that I wish the trail was longer, but I know that once I do finish there are side trips to do.

My original goal was to do it all in a year, but at the pace I’m walking, it isn’t possible.  I am confident though that I will finish.

While the experience of walking from Niagara Falls to Orangeville so far has been exciting and liberating, I could not do it without having some other goals.  The precursor to walking the Bruce was training to walk the Bruce.  I did this by first setting a goal to walk a minimum of 100 miles per month.  This forced me to get on my feet, to stand longer, to take the stairs, to park my car at the end of parking lots and to walk the dog more. I started getting up earlier to get in steps before work.  I started bringing my walking shoes to the office, so that I could walk at lunch.  At first some of my office mates laughed at my outfit mismatches, but they now see that having my shoes there helped me stay committed.  Currently I am nine months into this goal and I’ve made it each time.

The next goal was to eat better, to eat things that would help give me energy.  I decided that in order to do this, I need to try foods that I wouldn’t normally eat.  Just this morning I had a smoothie made of Swiss chard, mangoes, and coconut milk. Sound gross to you?  It did for me at first blush, but I thought it sounded like a good use of Swiss chard, a vegetable that I don’t crave but somehow got in my garden. The recipe was in Canadian Living.  I also tried a menu plan idea laid out in Redbook that included recipes for things to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the whole week.  As far as food goes, I like what I like and I thought I would have a hard time eating everything from a set menu but quite frankly it was all good; so good that some of the items I’ve made repeatedly ever since.  Thanks to eating better, and walking, I can do more physically than I have been able to do in a very long time.

Another related goal was to work hard, play hard.  This means I needed to get focused on being focused on work, getting work done and then getting out there and fully committing to leisure.  And then, in leisure, not thinking about work.  Mentally, I started visualizing egg timers while I worked and it helped me to think about taking out routines or things that I did that really didn’t provide value.  I’ll say that this goal is a work in progress, and I have more successes than failures.

Overarching is a goal to give myself permission to screw up sometimes but to dust myself off and get back up on the horse and keep going.  When I was young, I was learning how to ski and had a bad crash, psyched myself out and never skied again.  In my life, I’ve seen this theme repeat itself with other experiences.  I’m sure I would feel differently about skiing if I had gotten back up on skis right away.  I’ve had a couple of spectacular falls on my walking trip and on the days that these have happened, I’ve simply gone to the maps to figure out how to keep going, perhaps just going a little shorter distance next time to regain my confidence, but not to change the routine.

Perhaps the most significant of the goals is to suck it up.  I used to have a bad habit of complaining about aches and pains and inconveniences.  I don’t have one hundred million dollars and therefore can’t afford Sherpas for my walks; if I was going to do this, I was going to have to find the inner strength to do it.  Complaining about how much my feet hurt, or about the bruises from my occasional falls adds nothing to the experience and might possibly discourage others from trying it.  Pushing myself has given me the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful country available at my back door.  What is there to complain about?

The purpose of this post is not to outline my accomplishments, although I’m pretty proud of them.  The purpose was to suggest that you can’t achieve big goals without establishing linked goals too.

What are your goals?  How can they be linked together? How do they influence everything you do, in work and life?

Answer those questions and you’ll be one step closer to happiness.

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