Following a “footpath in the wilderness” from Massachusetts to Canada has helped me learn how to meet a Big Goal.
I’ve just returned from Hiking the Long Trail – the 275 mile recreational footpath that follows the spine of the Green Mountains the length of Vermont.
The trip was an unqualified success and, blisters aside, a great deal of fun. In addition to meeting all ten goals I set for myself beforehand, I also learned important lessons about writing. In particular, I learned how simple and easy it is to meet a Big Goal by setting and meeting daily, smaller, achievable and measurable ones.
While we set out to hike the length of Vermont, we did so by hiking between six and sixteen miles every day, for twenty-five days.
The terrain varied. What remained fairly constant was not the distance we covered, but the number of hours on the trail. Every day, we woke, breakfasted, broke camp and returned to the trail. Only after we reached our nightly goal did we take time to wash, write, and read – except on the days we just collapsed.
Substitute hours at the desk for hours on the trail, and the analogy to writing a book becomes clear.
Wake, breakfast, write.
Everything else that has to be done will fall into place. For me, this means work on the novel first, then everything else. I’m not likely to miss writing a scheduled post, or fail to prepare for a lecture or class. But I won’t schedule or work on these tasks until I’ve put in two to three hours on the book first.
My goal is to finish this section by the end of the year.
So far, so good: my first week back was a complete success, and I’m determined to carry over the determination I had on the trail to life at my desk. Indeed, I learned so much about how to live from this long-distance hike, that I’ve started a new category on my Wednesday blog, Lessons From the Long Trail.
The trick now is to learn how to apply those lessons learned on the trail to life sitting still.
Novelist, essayist and educator Deborah Lee Luskin lives in southern Vermont.