Excuse my French. What I meant to say was:
“You’ll never get to where you’re going if you never take a step forward.”
This quote is great advice that I heard somewhere along the way at some point. Or maybe I just made it up, I don’t really know, but either way, it’s true. This post is all about taking that first step to start working toward the things you really want to be doing. It’s all about inertia. Once you get it started, it’s easier to keep going and harder to stop.
A year ago today I started my journey to become an Adirondack 46er which is the name for someone who has hiked all of the 46 highest peaks in the Adirondacks that are over 4,000 feet high. The idea of becoming a 46er was something that I had thought about for over a year before I made the decision to do it. I scrolled through photos and met people who had completed the 46 high peaks and thought to myself, “Man, I wish I could be like you!” I obsessed about it, and told my friends about it and complained to my husband that I wasn’t doing it. It’s easy to get caught up in dreaming about a different kind of life after seeing someone doing something cool on a Netflix show, or YouTube or in your social media feed.
In all honestly, I was full of excuses and reasons why I couldn’t go out and hike those mountains. I was always putting it off until I found the right time, the right gear, the right person. I was always working. I had a young daughter to take care of. My husband wasn’t into hiking and I didn’t know anyone else that was. Even if I had a friend who was, did they have the time to devote to it at the same time as me? I kept thinking, well, if I just get through this one thing at work then I can take a vacation, or if I wait till my daughter is such and such age, then I can leave her with a babysitter, or I’ll just wait until life settles down.
Then one day, sometime after I turned 30 years old, it dawned on me that I had spent a lot of wasted time and energy thinking about doing interesting things rather than actually doing interesting things. If I put as much energy into planning and preparation as I did with mindless obsession, then I would already be hiking those mountains. A morbid thought also struck me – what if I ran out of time? If I didn’t start doing the things I wanted to do now, I would probably never do them. I had always been dutiful and responsible, doing all the things that I thought I should be doing with my life. I decided that now was the time to start doing the things that I really wanted to do.
Making that decision was a pivotal moment, but it is not to say that the very next day I hopped into my car and drove up to the mountains and started hiking them. Far from that. Instead, I found my good friend CC who also quietly had been wanting to become a 46er. CC and I spent months planning out a 3-day trip. We randomly picked a few days at the end of June, took those days off work, crossed our fingers, and hoped for the best. We spent nights drinking wine, looking at maps, like the one shown below, plotting out routes, picking a camping site, and sent hundreds of messages back and forth discussing food and gear that we’d need to bring.
A close up of the National Geographic Map of the High Peaks Wilderness that we used to plan our trip! So helpful!
Looking back, we definitely over-planned – something that my husband will probably never let me live down, and something that is definitely worth a blog post all it’s own. But, the point is that instead of dreaming of a photo that someone else took on top of a mountain, we began to focus our energies on making a concrete plan and taking the steps we needed to make that plan happen. We also held each other accountable.
The picture below – it’s a picture of ME on top of that first mountain! It was such an amazing, freeing feeling. We were so lucky to have a beautiful few days for our trip. Ever since that day I have been addicted to the feeling of being on top of the mountain, taking in the views of the surrounding landscape. I am so happy that I took those steps – I paved the way for myself to continue to go on amazing hikes, which I continued to do over the course of the last year.
If I had to give advice to anyone who was trying to figure out how to start on a project or goal it would be this: Just Do The Damn Thing!