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How to Make Your Outdoor Dreams Come True

Do you have a big goal in the outdoors? Maybe you want to summit a mountain, or perhaps you’re looking to tackle a big hike. When it comes to planning and executing a big outdoor goal, you want to think smart.

We’ll dive into how to make your outdoor dream a reality with these simple steps to put your dream trip into action.

Define Your Outdoor Goal

Okay, so I’ll be the first to admit that I make a goal then immediately change it. Defining your goal is super important because it will outline the path towards making your dream a reality.

The more specific your goal, the easier it will be to plan. But that doesn’t need to be the case.

However, don’t fret about getting caught up in the specifics. For example, if you’re like me and you can’t make up your mind about a specific objective, widen the scope of your goal.

My big goal for the year is to climb an alpine route. To be honest with you, that’s a vague goal. There are many alpine routes throughout the world. However, I have a shortlist of climbs I’d like to try and achieving any of them would be a huge win for me.

The point is, your goal doesn’t need to be ultra-specific, but it should have an end result in mind.

outdoor goal

Plan Ahead

Whatever it is you’d like to do in the outdoors, you’ll need to plan ahead! Here are a few key things to think about when planning your big outdoor objective next year:

  • Do you need permits? How far in advance should they be reserved?
  • Will you need extra time off of work? If so, have those conversations early.
  • Do you need to train or purchase special gear? You’ll need to budget time and money efficiently.
  • What time of year should you go for it? Be sure to set aside time in your calendar.

Set Smaller Outdoor Goals

At first, tackling a tough hike or burly mountain can seem insurmountable. The peak is impossibly high and far away. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with anxiety and negative thoughts.

Start with a list of small goals. Let’s go back to this alpine climb. It’s scary to think about being strapped to the side of a mountain for 15-plus hours with nothing but a rope stopping you from tumbling to the ground.

How would you set small goals for this example? Ideas are:

  • Accomplish a smaller, multi-pitch climb.
  • Train to carry a heavy backpack for 10 miles without being worn out.
  • Purchase key pieces of lighter gear to make the journey easier.
  • Refresh rescue skills and techniques before your climb.
outdoor goal setting

Keep Working Towards It

If you’re working towards a big goal, you’ll need to stay patient and motivated. Maybe you have to spend years working towards saving enough to tackle a big thru-hike.

It’s tough to stay motivated. Instead of focusing on how far off the end result is, instead hone in on the smaller, more obtainable objectives. Congratulate yourself on your wins, and learn from your failures.

When it comes to fitness, it’s easy to get bored. Switch up your routine by going for training hikes instead of sitting in a gym, cross-train with a new sport, or try out different exercise regimes.

Double Check Your Plans

As time goes by, plans can change. That’s perfectly natural. Be sure to double-check your plans as you go along. Think about conditions outside of your control such as weather, timing, permits, and other elements that might have shifted over time.

It’s okay if things have changed and your original plan falls through. Be flexible and adapt to the conditions you’re given. There’s so much in this world we can’t control, but we can control how we adapt to the change.

Dealing with Disappointment

It’s unrealistic to think that everything will go your way 100-percent of the time. Failure and learning is part of any goal in life. Sometimes, that failure can overwhelm you, but you don’t have to let it take over.

Instead of giving up, take a break instead. Overtraining, hyper-focused, and unforeseen circumstances easily lead to burn out. Don’t forget to build in some time to relax and enjoy your progress.

If you take a few steps backward, it’s okay. When I set out to climb an alpine route, I got into a scary climbing accident just a month before I was supposed to leave on my trip. It put things in perspective, and I had to put my goal on hold.

Sure, that feeling really sucked, but it also gave me an opportunity to learn and grow in ways I didn’t expect. Although it was difficult to look at the accident as part of the process, I eventually overcame my disappointment and accepted my new position. Instead of letting it hold me back, I chose to grow from the situation.

goal setting techniques

What to Do if You Don’t Reach Your Outdoor Goal?

To be honest, if you don’t reach your goal, nothing happens. In fact, if we go back to my example of an alpine climb, I’m still trying to make it happen after failing last year.

It’s okay not to reach your goal. Focus on the journey, not the destination. Perhaps you can reframe your goal and do something else instead. Or you can look back and be thankful for what you have been able to achieve.

Nature has a funny way of messing around with our plans. You’ll have this amazing trip planned, only to see rain and snow in the forecast. The best thing we can do as outdoor enthusiasts is to adapt. Don’t be afraid to change your plans last minute and still call it a win!

Have Fun!

At the end of the day, setting a goal in the outdoors is supposed to be fun. We choose objectives that push us and teach us something, and have fun in the process. If it isn’t fun, why are you doing it?

When it comes to achieving an outdoor goal, it’s important to plan properly and be flexible. At the end of the day, get outside, have fun and smile!

About the Author

Sunset

Meg Atteberry

Meg ditched the 9-5 world as an architect in pursuit of adventure. Now a freelance writer for the outdoor industry, she’s made it her life’s work to inspire others to say “yes” to adventure. From the remote wilderness areas of Colorado, to exploring a foreign country, Meg specializes in off-beat destinations for the intrepid soul. You can find her in the backcountry searching for the perfect camp spot in her home of Colorado.