Whether wildly adventurous or painfully mundane, most of us are driven by personal goals. Whatever one’s passion, striving to achieve provides purpose and meaning. Goals occupy our thoughts and guide our actions, keeping mind and body consumed. It might be the pursuit of sporting glory, the desire for fortune and fame, or a lifelong quest for knowledge, but whatever form it takes, goals define our sense of self.
Focusing simply on reaching goals without embracing the process of achieving them can lead to a shallow, less than gratifying outcome.
All too often we look forward without embracing the present. With so much riding on expectations, it’s easy to be distracted and miss the significance of the process. Maybe my yoga instructors are right and the journey really is more valuable than the destination?
Looking beyond the daily grind of work and routine chores, having passion for objectives is a great way to maintain sanity and continually strive for some form of greatness. I’ve got an ever-evolving list of goals jotted down in a journal that’s tucked deep inside a drawer. Every so often I dust it off to evaluate my progress. A handful of these gems have been checked off and many others are in assorted stages of completion, but simply having the list keeps me motivated to excel.
- Move to the Rockies: check
- Run a marathon before I turn 30: check
- Learn to speak Italian: still a long way to go with this one
- Ski the Alps: check
- Learn to surf: um, kind of, but not very well
- Race a sub-5 hour half Ironman: not quite, missed it by 1:15. Try again
- Climb Kilimanjaro: I’m headed to give it a shot in a couple months!
- Spend a night in every state: almost there…
A decade of schlepping around the country to meetings and conferences involved visiting most states on numerous occasions. Early on, I got in the habit of marking each city I spent a night in with a pushpin on a map. Before long, the map was littered with pins. I’d slowly, but surely been seeing the entire country from coast-to-coast and border-to-border.
Until two weeks ago, five states remained. After a recent motorcycle camping trip where I covered 4,610 miles across eleven states in eight days (Cannonball Run on two wheels!), I checked three more off the list. Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina down, now just North Dakota and Alaska remain.
It’s not a groundbreaking goal and I’ve no grand intentions of bragging on Facebook once I complete it, but accomplishing my objective will offer some level of gratification. What’s most important is that my goal has encouraged me to continually explore, learning about and experiencing all our country has to offer along the way. I’ve no wild expectations about finding deeper meaning in North Dakota, but I’m confident the journey will unveil something fulfilling that would otherwise remain hidden. Without having established goals and embracing the journey to reach them, there’s so much out there I would have missed.