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Do you set goals? Do they motivate you?
(No. 109) I do, even though I'm not that type of person, by Stephen P. Williams
I have made plans to do a huge, difficult hike in October, 2023. To do that, I must get more fit than I have ever been as an adult. These two ideas — the hike, and getting strong enough for the hike — could combine as goals for great affect. Having plans and goals and a sense of purpose are associated with better physical health as we age, according to many studies.
Much to my surprise, the idea of this hike instantly gave me a sense of purpose, even though hiking is a narcissistic act. I’ve invited my two brothers to join me, and I hope the hike also motivates them to become superfit for the next 30 or so years, until we die and discover what cloud computing really means. Being fit as we get f’ing old would be a beautiful thing. Ha ha. JK. No worries. Age is just a number, I heard.
A scary number. Almost one in threeAmericans over 65 can barely walk three city blocks, according to the CDC. I’ve got to gloat: I’m three months shy of 65, and I regularly walk 100 blocks in New York City. Today I drove 50 miles to Cold Spring, New York and hiked four and a half miles up and down a rocky trail on Mt. Taurus, with an elevation gain of 1,100 feet. The hike was gratifying as hell, with extraordinary views of the Hudson River and Bear Mountain. It worked a lot of muscles I’ve neglected. Coming down from the mountaintop was harder than climbing it. But the hike propelled me a few more steps towards being ready for the big hike in 2023.
I wouldn’t have hiked today if I hadn’t set a goal. Now I see the direct positive effects of that. This goal has had a rippling effect, with both of my brothers now looking at their health and fitness from new angles. Do you see the potential for something like this in your own life?
An unexpected benefit, for me, is that working out to prepare for this big hike has turbocharged my interest in hiking as a hobby. That’s unusual in that I’ve never had a hobby — not one — in my long life. Plus, hiking has never been a huge interest of mine, because I hate ticks. I hate boring forests. I hate gnats. But in the last few months I’ve discovered how much I like walking. And how grounded I feel towards the end of a hike in the woods. I need this exercise and connection to the nature, whether the trees are in the Adirondack Mountains or in Central Park. And it’s wonderful for me to have a reason to be walking. Finally, I can use the term “forest bathing” without irony.
I’m off to enjoy a warm November evening in New York. I will be back in a few days with the third chapter of my utopian dystopian novel, The Lost City of Desire. You can look at chapter one here, or chapter two here.