Overshoot Your Goals. Always.

Goals

Going uphill on the Camino and struggling with the altitude.

According to the Norman Vincent Peale quote,  “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”  The point is, if you have goals, you stand a chance of getting farther in life and reaching your dreams. Once you go farther than you ever dreamed, the smaller goals and dreams are so much easier.

Including the ones that had once seemed impossible.

Both strangers and neighborhood acquaintances often stop me in the grocery store and tell me how surprised and amazed they are when they see me on my daily walks and sprints. To me, eight or ten miles is nothing. Or, maybe I should say, ordinary. Because I accomplished my goal of walking about a hundred miles on the last leg of the Camino de Santiago, an eight to ten mile walk in nothing now. I’ve walked in scorching sun in Spain and in cold, hard rain.  I’ve shivered and I’ve sweated.  I’ve had altitude sickness climbing the path and painful knees and toenails coming down.  We did duck into a little town and avoided the hail, so there is that, I suppose.  But if an afternoon downpour catches me when I’m five miles from my house, it’s really not that big a deal.

This is just one of many lessons I’ve learned on the Camino. The Camino was one of those goals that changed everything.

A dozen or so years ago, I thought of a long walk as a loop around the neighborhood. Maybe two miles, if I looped back around the length of the subdivision, and something I would try to do several times a week with my partner, so that we could have some couple time while the kids did homework. Our marriage was breaking up then, so most of the time we walked in silence and, more often than not, I walked alone, dictating novels on my handheld recorder.

Five years ago, my idea of a long walk was a brisk 30-minute stroll around the lake in the evenings.  Or maybe two miles on the trails through the woods next to my office building.

Four and a half years ago, I decided to walk the Camino de Santiago. I knew I had to train for it. I knew, more than anything, that I had to know if I could comfortably wear hiking or athletic shoes for more than two miles at a time.

I extended my walk a quarter mile here and there. Then a half mile. Then a mile. And, pretty soon, my two miles turned into five, eight, twelve miles a day. Sometimes fifteen.

I walked in 35-degree sleet, and I walked in 105-degree heat. I couldn’t have trained to that level overnight. It took a while to work up to more than eight miles a day. My current five miles in the morning before work is invigorating but not difficult at all.

Most big goals and dreams are like that, I think. You reach them incrementally, doing a little more each day, going a little farther, a little deeper. But once you’re there, anything you do is easier.

Overshoot your goals, always, because anything less stills gets you farther than standing still and anything more will change how you look at what you can accomplish.