Note: I rerun this blog post every year on (or around) January 1. I hope you enjoy.
It’s that time again—time for your annual flirtation with self-improvement. Good for you!
I doesn’t matter if your record of resolution-keeping is dismal; the road to success, after all, is paved with failures. The quicker you get past all those missteps the quicker you will become the person you want to be!
As diverse as we are, the similarity of our resolutions is amazing. I’ve listed below what is widely regarded as the top ten most common. What isn’t widely known is that the absolute best way to succeed at every one of these resolutions is to thru-hike the John Muir Trail.
So, as my wife says when I ask what’s wrong with one of my great ideas, “Here’s the list!”
1. Lose weight. You will ONLY eat what you carry. Really, this one is almost too easy.
2. Volunteer to help others. No one walks the JMT without being both the provider and beneficiary of many acts of kindness. From dropping things in the hikers barrels at Red’s Meadow or Muir Trail Ranch, to providing the latest data regarding water on the trail behind you, to a smile and a few words of encouragement to a fellow hiker with sore legs, the opportunities to help are plentiful.
3. Quit Smoking. You’re a serious endurance athlete now, training for the challenge of eight major passes and the summit of Mount Whitney. Serious endurance athletes don’t smoke.
4. Get a better education. You will learn more in three weeks on the trail than a year at the Ivy League, especially about yourself.
5. Get a better job. Before you jump to a new job you better know exactly what you don’t like about the present one, what the “better” job would look like, and have a plan to move between the two. Who has time for that? You will, if you are walking eight to ten hours a day, without any distractions.
6. Save money. Skip Wally World or that vacation to Europe. Instead, invest in some decent gear and prepare to go days without pulling out your credit card.
7. Get fit. There are two ways to do this, either train hard and show up at the beginning of the trail lean and strong (and enjoy the first week), or show up out of shape. You may not have as much fun the first few days, but you will finish the trail fit. Oh yeah.
8. Eat healthy food. Oh…I love this one. On the trail, it’s ALL healthy food. Buttery pasta for dinner and chocolate for dessert—pizza and ice cream on your zero days. Flout the rules while losing inches around the middle.
9. Manage stress. The stress on the trail is of a certain kind: should I eat lunch on the shore of that gorgeous lake or on this granite slab with the incredible view? Should I nap mid-morning or mid-afternoon? Or both? Oh, the decisions!
10. Take a trip. Forget the trip—why not an adventure!
Good hiking, Ray