Last summer I wrote a blog about my life lessons from doing the Grouse Grind. As it is now February, the regular Grind is currently closed. But this weekend I got to do the Grouse Snowshoe Grind. Twice. Once again, I learned a few more lessons I can relate to regular life, and in particular to setting goals.
Lesson 1–Be prepared
My first showshoe opportunity this year was a few weeks ago on Mount Seymour. As a last minute thought, I called my friend to ask if he was going. Once decided, I had just 15 minutes to get myself ready. It was then that I realized that I have no snow gear. I threw on some running tights; I figured they were designed for winter running, so they should be okay. I put on layers of breathable tops and added a last layer of a sweatshirt with a hood. I grabbed a knitted hat, a scarf, and mitts. I put on my waterproof running shoes. Good enough, I thought. For a wet snow day, I was not prepared, though I did ultimately end up being fine.
I was much more prepared for the Grind Snowshoeing outings and that resulted in my feeling more skilled and confident, with less energy spent on worrying about whether I was going to be cold and wet.
In life, some goals we set for ourselves require preparation. If I want to eat healthy, I need to buy healthy food. If I want to exercise more, I may need to consider the appropriate gear. I may be able to get by without being organized, but the level of commitment to a goal is much higher when I have the added boost of confidence that I am prepared.
Lesson 2–Choose and plan a path
For the Grouse Snowshoe Grind, this is a no-brainer. The path is set and all I had to do was follow the markers.
In life, this isn’t always that easy. If eating healthy, it’s easier to do if I have a basic meal plan and recipes. If I just stock up my fridge and cupboards with healthy foods without knowing what I’m going to do with them, chances are that I may fall into lazy habits of opting for processed packaged foods or eating out. When exercising more is the goal, I need to know what I plan to do, how to start it out, where I will do that, and when. Without that, it’s easier to just skip out on the workouts when life gets busy.
Lesson 3–Look for signs you are on the right track
I was told to follow the little orange “SSG” signs on the Grind, so I knew I was on the right path with every sign I passed.
Life generally isn’t like that, but there are often signs if we pay attention. Though you may still be aways away from your ultimate goal, you can look for signs like more energy, less bloating, feeling stronger, sleep feeling more restful, and so forth. For some goals, you may find it helpful to keep a diary. Chances are that you won’t really remember how you felt at the beginning of your goal journey. If you’ve written it down, however, you can go back and see how far you’ve progressed. As a health professional, I find I get to remind my patients of how far along they have progressed. For example, I might say, “Are you still having problems falling asleep?” And my patients often say, “Oh, I forgot that was a problem. Yes, no problem now.”
Lesson 4–Enjoy the moments along the way
In addition to knowing that I was on the SSG track, it was nice to stop every once in awhile to look around at areas outside of my path. Looking around to enjoy the surroundings will help me to come back again next time.
When you set health goals for yourself, allow yourself to continue to appreciate other areas of your life. It is probably not long-term healthy to say no to every event you are invited to attend because you are trying to avoid eating unhealthy foods. Taking time to chat for a few minutes with a friend at the gym, instead of plugging away non stop, may help you to want to return to the gym again the next day.
Lesson 5–Be encouraged by the success of others
As I stood at the base of the last incline on the Snowshoe Grind, I was tired and that last slope looked steee-eeep! But seeing the imprints of footsteps from people that had already climbed that part of the path encouraged me. After all, if someone else was able to do it, I could too.
Do you know someone who has achieved some of the same goals that you are working toward? Even if you can’t find someone in person, you may find these type of people in books, articles, documentaries, online, or via social media. You may also find similar people in support groups. We are social creatures, so using the powerful energy of finding like minded others can help make your journey easier.
Lesson 6–Celebrate success
Yay! I made it to the top and took a picture. Not that the sign was exciting. And unfortunately, what might otherwise be a beautiful view was just fog. But, it was worth a mini celebration.
Sometimes we achieve a goal and forget to celebrate. No matter the size of the goal, celebrations help us to keep up the positive progress with more success in future goals. If you have been eating really healthy and feeling the benefits, perhaps choose a reward other than food. If you had successfully quit smoking, a cigarette reward may not be the best option. What other ways can you congratulate yourself? Maybe time off with a friend or time to read a book or buy a fancy dish to serve your healthy meals?
Lesson 7–Be adventurous
I made it to the top of the Snowshoe Grind. But I noticed that I could keep going and though I had no idea where it would take me, I was curious. It was snowing heavily, so I was the only one there. And what a beautiful view!
When you reach your goal, are you motivated to stretch a little further? Why not?