One thousand eight hundred miles. That is how many miles I hiked/walked in 2021. A feat (or should I say “feet”) that I’m quite proud of. However, that wasn’t my original goal. That would be 2021 – yes, one mile for each year. It was part of an initiative by Pittsburgh-based non-profit Venture Outdoors that they hosted to encourage more folks out of doors for the year.
When I signed up for the challenge in January 2021, I joked with my family about achieving the goal. Knowing my competitive nature and stubbornness, they were all betting on me. But that was early in the year and before a lot of, well, life happened.
Goal setting is good. There are thousands of studies about the fact that you are more likely to achieve something if you have a goal. Sort of obvious. And I know for me it is true. I often enter an event to keep me motivated and focused. A goal if you will.
Sometimes when we make a physical goal, an injury or illness can sidetrack us. But not me. I was sidetracked by a series of events, some good, some sad, most hard.
My daughter and her family were displaced by the winter storms in Texas in February and I traveled to assist them in both babysitting and a 1,000-mile move. That took time and while I took lots of walks pushing a stroller, it wasn’t the same as sole hiking.
Then I lost one of the most important folks in my life, my aunt. As her “main” person, cleaning out her apartment, dealing with her estate, etc. were up to me. At the same time, another guiding light of my life, my mom, had to downsize from an apartment to assisted living. More time.
Then my mother became critically ill and for her last two weeks, something became much more important than miles – minutes sitting next to her bed. When we lost her, more heartache, and yes, time.
Between handling affairs, planning services, out-of-town guests and more, hiking was sidetracked. While the walks and hikes became important to sooth my soul, I had less time than I had anticipated and therefore less miles.
I could have done one of two things. In the past, I may have berated myself in my head for not achieving my goal. I would have thought about what I didn’t do instead of what I DID do. This is certainly a route I could have chosen. Or I could embrace the accomplishment and celebrate it for what it is. I mean 1,800 miles is A LOT of miles. And many of those miles had been good, really good miles with the people most important to me in the world walking beside me.
And many tears were shed on my silent steps.
Goals are meant to help us accomplish feats that we may not otherwise achieve. They help keep us focused, driven, and moving. But they may also need to be adjusted when life happens. Sometimes it isn’t the number, but the road that is traveled and whom we are with.
One thousand eight hundred miles in one year. That’s a pretty big deal.