Blog: Go Big This Year

Blog: Go Big This Year

Go Big This Year!


Written for the Washington Trails Association blog


Visit the published blog here and the companion magazine article here


Do your New Year’s resolutions always seem to fizzle? Whether your aim is to get outside more this year, hike farther or discover a few new trails, it’s possible you’re thinking too small.

There’s a cure for the common New Year’s resolution. It’s a big, bold, audacious year-long challenge. Think it can’t be done? Meet Beautiful Existence.

We first learned of Existence (yes, that’s her legal name) and her signature year-long challenges in early 2014, as she set out to spend the year trying every sport that REI offers gear for. Over the course of the year, she revolutionized her relationship with the outdoors, transformed her family dynamics for the better and spent more days outside than most people you know. Did we mention that she accomplished all of it while a full-time student, part-time employee and single mom to two active boys, ages 4 and 14?

The lessons she learned during her year-long challenge show how you can do the same:

Identify your passions

  • Existence is the first to admit that you can’t always jump into your passions. Some of us have been living without passions for so long that they’re not readily apparent. Give yourself the mental space to answer the question: What lights you up?
  • Own the answer you get. You don’t have to have a passion that matches everyone else’s. You are who you are for a reason. Own it.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t already fit the mold for what you’re trying to do. After all, Existence had never spent much time in the outdoors before her year-long challenge. Like she did, you can always grow into your goal.

Eliminate obstacles in advance

  • Think of creative solutions to obstacles you might face. Need to purchase gear on a budget? Shop garage sales or discount sites; ask friends for loaner gear. Worried about the weather? Invest in a good rain jacket.
  • Immerse yourself in your future community and learn as much as possible about what you want to do. Join online forums and local organizations; read blogs and articles. And don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether that’s from instructors, retail store employees or people you know.
  • Schedule non-negotiable dates with yourself to accomplish your year-long adventure. A good rule of thumb is to schedule at least one activity per week that brings you closer to your goal.

Embrace the change

  • Make a conscious effort to notice how your life changes—even in little ways—as you live your year-long challenge.
  • Don’t be afraid to start new traditions in your life. Existence turned Thanksgiving—a typically indoor American food-fest—into an extended weekend of family backpacking. You can plan similar new traditions.
  • Share your passion with the world, whether that’s through a Facebook page, a blog or a web site. Keep the energy of inspiration alive and you may just inspire someone to follow in your footsteps.

Be determined—and flexible

  • Adopt a “no excuses” mentality when it comes to progressing towards your goal (except, of course, when it comes to safety).
  • Create backup plans for your adventures so you can always be moving ahead, even if Plan A doesn’t happen like you want it to.
  • Don’t stress yourself out by aiming for perfection. It’s all about the journey, not the destination.

Relish every victory

  • Revel in each victory—however small—before moving on. There are some days when you’ll need those heartwarming moments to keep you motivated.
  • Look for the silver lining in everything.
  • Remember that you’re far more likely to regret the things you didn’t do than the things you did do. Be brave.

With a little organization and planning—and a big, bold, audacious year-long challenge—you can make 2015 your best year ever. What are you waiting for? Go big this year!

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