As a part of their goal setting process, many people pick a word for the year. It’s the one thing they want to focus on and improve more than anything. My word this year is courage.
The last few years have been challenging for my husband Jer and I. Challenging but rewarding.
At the end on 2014, we decided I was going to leave my corporate career so that we both could explore other interests and stop waiting for retirement to follow our dreams. Sounds great in theory, but it has been way more difficult than we expected.
I’m not complaining. We are very grateful for the life we’ve created. But man have we been challenged to step out of our comfort zones.
We spent most of our lives playing it safe, living the life that was expected of us. But as we stretched beyond that, we began to realize that we were living other people’s dreams and not our own. We started talking about what we wanted our lives to look like and began laying the foundation to get there. Looking back, building the foundation was the easy part.
One of the things that helped us build this foundation was setting goals. Goals have been such an integral part of our progress that I actually wrote a book about it. It will be coming out later this year – but more on that later.
As I was reviewing my goals from the previous year, I felt pretty disappointed in my lack of progress. I learned a lot and created some value, but failed to hit my most important targets. I spent most of the month of December trying to figure out what went wrong.
It all tied back to fear and false beliefs, some of which I’ve been carrying around as long as I can remember. This is unfortunately quite common as people level up their lives. Eventually, you hit a ceiling. Gay Hendrix calls it the Upper Limit Problem.
As I painfully learned, when you don’t work for someone else, it’s really easy to pull back when you hit your upper limit. I knew that I needed to keep pushing myself forward. So I decided that this year I would focus on building my courage.
When it comes to my work, I’ve been pushing myself a little each day. I started doing live Facebook videos, I sent out the first draft of my book for feedback, and began voicing my opinion about personal finance. My courage muscle has been growing and I’m getting much closer to my targets than I did the previous year.
Then something magical happened. Facing my fears became exhilarating and I wanted to do more! My courage seemed to be cultivating more courage.
As I mentioned, over the past six years, my husband, Jer and I have been working to build a foundation to have the freedom to follow our dreams. During this time, we began doing all of those things we always wanted to do as well as some we didn’t know we wanted.
One of these things is cycling. We put thousands of miles on our bikes each year, but I’ve really limited myself on where I would ride. I’ve had a lot of close calls and horrible experiences with motorists so the thought of riding on roads with speed limits greater than 35 MPH scared the crap out of me.
Then this summer, Jer and I decided to ride the Gitchi-Gami State Trail, on Lake Superior’s North Shore. Unfortunately, there are only 29 miles of completed trail. So either I had to ride the same section, over, and over, and over again. Or I needed to get comfortable riding on the road.
On the way to our starting point, I carefully watched the shoulders and assessed the route we were planning to ride the next day. There was a pretty long section of Highway 61 with virtually no shoulder and a short section of road work with no shoulder.
I was worried. In fact, the next morning I went back and forth between wanting to face my fear and wanting to play it safe and drive the bikes to the trail head. I knew I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t try it. So in spite of my fear, I went for it.I knew I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t try it. So in spite of my fear, I went for it. Click To Tweet
Overall the ride went smoothly except for the truck that road raged us in the construction zone. I wasn’t sold on it, but I decided to stick with the plan for day two.
Day two was a blast. There were miles of brand new trail, 10 miles of a nice wide shoulder, nonstop rolling HILLS, and NO STOP LIGHTS! We were flying and I’m pretty sure I had a perma-smile the entire 70 miles. I wrote some words about it and posted some pictures that you can check out here.
I had such a great time, I decided it was time to face some of my other fears.
Jer and I typically go on an epic globetrotting adventure every other year. Last year should have been the year. Unfortunately, Jer has been using most of his vacation time to deal with family issues. I’m not upset, but I can get a bit whiny from time to time. I’m a gypsy at heart and I need my fair share of adventures.
Jer keeps encouraging me to go solo but I’m kind of a scaredy cat. And when I travel alone, I always wish he was there experiencing it with me. But this North Shore cycling adventure had me all fired up.
I’ve always dreamed of visiting every Minnesota State Park. The Minnesota DNR does an excellent job with parks and it’s one of the best park systems in the country. But there are so many. At best, we could do six long weekends each year. With 66 parks and three select recreation areas, that would take more than ten years.
So I decided to go for it. I’m going to finish visiting every state park in Minnesota by the end of next year. Camping, biking, hiking, and kayaking – most of it solo.
As of last weekend, I’ve visited 26 of the 69 parks and recreation areas on my list. There are at least four that I will revisit because I haven’t spent enough time there or they’re just that awesome. That means I have at least 47 parks to hit in the next 14 months or so.
I have been to 11 different parks so far this year, but only 4 have been new. I am planning to do 23 more this year, 20 of which will be completely new. At the end of the year, I’m hoping to have hit a total of 34 parks. 24 of those will be for the first time.
Let me be clear, I am deathly afraid of the dark, being alone in the woods, bears, wolves, snakes, ax murderers … Basically, everything I could encounter on a solo camping adventure. But I love traveling, camping, being in the woods, hiking, biking, kayaking … And everything else that will come with this solo adventure.
But most of all, I need to keep working on my courage!
In true Holly fashion, I did a test run last weekend. I went out by myself to set up and camp solo for a couple of days. Jer met up with me on the weekend to hang out and make sure I could take it all down by myself.
It was in a walk in site, away from the safety of my car, and I was a bit freaked out. But I did it and I felt like it was a huge accomplishment. I also faced my fear of heights and climbed up a fire tower. 500 steep, uneven, shaky steps!
I’m telling you, courage cultivates courage!Courage cultivates courage! Click To Tweet
I head out on Friday to start the adventure. I’m planning to do some Facebook Live videos along the way (assuming I have service). You can like my page and get notifications on new videos. I will definitely track all of my fitness activities on Strava. You can check out my routes and pictures there. I’m also relatively active on Instagram, so I’ll also post some pictures there.
There’s no turning back now – my courage is waiting!
What will you find the courage to do?
Share in the comments below!