On a recent trip to Alpha Beta, I had the opportunity to take a short hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains just outside of Asheville, NC. Although my original intention to reenact the Sound of Music, I instead found my subconscious mind seeking a lesson that could be applied to daily life. What occurred to me was that the process of setting and reaching a goal is much the process of planning and taking a hike.
Lesson 1: Choose and commit
The night before my hike I made the definitive decision that the next day I was going to wake up and head straight to the mountains. I was 100% committed to it. If someone is 99% committed to achieving something they are accepting that quitting or failure is an option. When you commit to something 100%, you have decided that failure or quitting is not an option.
Lesson 2: Ask for guidance
When setting a goal, chances are you are not a master at whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. In this case, I had no knowledge of the area. I could have chosen a trail at random, but instead I decided to make a stop at the visitor center. The ranger there helped me pick out a few different options based on my ability and desired length. When it comes to goal achievement working with a mentor or asking for guidance is imperative. It helps you to feel more confident in your decisions and greatly increases the speed at which you will progress.
Lesson 3: Have the correct skills and knowledge
The gear necessary for a hike is similar to the knowledge and skills needed for reaching a goal. If I had gone out without any shoes or water I wouldn’t have gotten too far. Once you set a goal, for example, starting a new business, make sure to gain business knowledge and develop sales and marketing skills in order to be successful.
Lesson 4: Speed of progress will vary
Much like a hike, it will have its grueling steeps and its easy flats, so is the path to a goal. When you get into a groove it is important to press forward. This is also the perfect time to organize yourself and mentally prepare to dig deep when the tough times come.
Lesson 5: Focus on the process
The process of working toward a goal is much like walking on a trail. If you get caught looking at your feet or look too far ahead you are going to trip, but if you look just 1-2 steps ahead you will progress.
Lesson 6: Celebrate, then move on
When I reached the summit I felt a great sense of achievement. I took in the view, snapped a quick selfie, and headed back down the mountain. I realized that it is easy to get caught up in the celebratory aspect of achievement, but focusing on it too much can lead to disappointment.
With each mountain you climb your fitness will increase, allowing you to take on bigger and harder climbs. Reach your goal, then aim higher. What will be your next mountain?
Luke Baumbach, Alpha Iota ’14