Resolutions for Outdoorsy People

Photo credit: Gideon Haden ChomphosyThe year is coming to an end, and it’s time to think about what’s happened in our lives over past 12 months. Most people like to reflect on the good and the bad, and make decisions about what they want to accomplish for the next year. Delusions of grandeur, however, can leave people feeling like failures. Instead of making a big list of vague and lofty goals and resolutions, focus on specific things that you want to do which can realistically be accomplished.

Making a list isn’t necessarily enough to make things happen, though. You need to be realistic with what you want to accomplish and take the right steps to ensure that you can reach your goals or stick to your resolutions.

There are people who can fly by the seat of their pants. All they need is time and money, and the rest falls into place. Others need to do more planning in order to make things happen. Either way, there is some preparation involved, so figure out what exactly needs to happen for you to follow through on your New Year’s goals and resolutions.

It’s not very realistic to say that you’re going to thru-hike the AT if you’ve never hiked before. In fact, walking across the U.S. from top to bottom in a single go isn’t a realistic goal for most hikers. It takes 6 months on average and only 20% of the people who start the trail finish the hike in its entirety. It takes lots of money, time off work, fine planning, and a good level of fitness. (Read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods if you want to get a feel for it without the trouble of actually doing it.)

It’s great if you want to push yourself with your goals and resolutions– just make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure. Here are some ways to set reachable New Year’s goals and resolutions for people who like to get outdoors.

Make a list of trails you want to hike. Don’t just take to Pinterest and find the prettiest trails. You’ll end up with a handful of trails out west, some on the east coast, a couple in Europe, one in Thailand, and a couple down in South America. Unless you own a teleporter or you’re the offspring of a wealthy oil baron, you won’t be able to hit all of those trails. Map out some beautiful trails in your own backyard, or plan a trip that includes some of your top picks.

Make a list of the places that you want to go. Again, don’t get sucked into beautiful images on travel blogs and Instagram filters. We all want to go everywhere. Think about where you can realistically travel this year. If you’re in school, you get a nice long summer vacation, and you can travel practically anywhere if you have the funds. If you have a 9-5, you probably have just a couple of weeks to take a trip. Two weeks is plenty of time to visit the destination of your choice, but you have to be a bit more selective.

Make a list of climbing routes you want to complete. Some call it a ticklist. Whether you want to knock out a list of iconic climbs, or you’ve been training and you want to bag some hard grades, a ticklist is a good way to keep yourself motivated while climbing throughout the year.

Make a list of national parks you want to visit. 2016 marks the centennial for the National Park Service. Celebrate by seeing some of the most beautiful places in the country.

Train for things. If you’re spending time outside, you need to stay up on your physical fitness. Training can help you do more challenging things, or just make your time outside more enjoyable. Give yourself clear training goals, and establish a regimen that you can stick to. Most people don’t have the option to train for 3 hours everyday, so don’t pick a routine that requires you to quit your job and turn pro.

Sometimes time constraints, obligations, bad weather and lack of motivation can make it challenging to get outdoors. If you want to get outside more, think about how often you can actually get outside, pick a number, and stick with it. How many times a year do you want to get outdoors? How many times a month? How many times a week? Obviously, emergencies may arise, but don’t let cold temperatures, a little drizzle, or laziness keep you indoors.

Document your travels. Even the strongest memories can fade over time. Make a point to write down what happens over the course of your travels. You will enjoy being able to read about your adventures in the future.

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