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Setting Goals and Climbing Mountains

My family recently went on vacation into Sequoia national park in California. On one of the days, we left the kids with the camp counselor and my Wife and I hiked to the top of one of the local peaks. We had a good time and a really enjoyed both the hike up and the view from the top. Reflecting upon the trip, I came appreciate how analogous the hike was to our own lives.

Achieving goals in life is much like climbing to the top of a peak. First, the peak was our goal. No matter what path we decided to take, our goal was always the peak. Not only were there multiple trails leading to the same peak, but there were countless other ways to achieve the peak. For the less adventurous, there was well trodden path, and the more adventurous could have scaled the cliff face of the mountain. Like the hike, in life there are countless ways to achieve the same goal and you are faced with many different paths to choose from. Deciding which path to take really depends on your own personality and should be based on two criteria. Namely, which paths will help you achieve your goal in the allotted time and from those options, which paths are achievable with your skill set, and which path will you enjoy the most.

On our hike in the Sequoias, we only had two hours to get to the peak and then get back. We chose the particular peak because it was only a mile long hike and was relatively low impact leaving us plenty of time to reach the peak, enjoy the view, and get back in order to meet up with the kids at the allotted rendezvous time. With multiple mountains around and paths to every peak, we chose our particular location because we knew we could make it in the time we had, that it would not be too strenuous for us, and because it did not require any special equipment to reach the top.

We make similar decision with our lives, with so many end goals to our lives, we need to approach deciding which goals to work toward in a similar fashion. First, choose an achievable goal. If your goal is to own a house, work towards a neighborhood that you can buy in within your acceptable timelines. Don’t set a goal for a million dollar house when it would take you 20 years to come up with the down payment.

Next, work with the tools you have. Once you have found an achievable goal, work to achieve it using the tools that you do have. I have a doctorate and have a lot more earnings potential than many of my neighbors, opening up more opportunities for me. I’ve chosen to take a lot of my earnings and funnel it into small businesses in order to achieve my goals. My neighbors don’t have the discretionary income to follow a similar path, but they can work toward the same goal in different ways. For example, increase savings by reducing expenses or taking a second job.

Third, chose the path that you and your family will enjoy the most. If we had the time, I would personally have had a great time reaching the peak by scaling the cliff to the top. That would have been a lot of fun. However, that would not have been the most fun for my wife and did not meet our time requirements. When working towards goals, I can’t stress how important it is to enjoy what it is you are doing. It is counterproductive to work towards a goal that your family does not support or that you do not enjoy. When you are not happy, you compensate for your unhappiness in other ways which quickly destroy the gains you are working towards. Make your goal setting a family decision so that all are satisfied and all will enjoy not only the end result, but the trek as well

Like climbing a mountain, when you set a goal, you should make it achievable in the time that you have allotted, it should be achievable with the tools at your disposal, and your plan should be enjoyable to both you, your family, and everyone else involved.

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