As the holiday season comes to a close, the adults among us inevitably turn to plans for the year to come–from rudimentary reminders to lofty ambitions. The list spans the chasm from “exercise twice a week” to “race around the world in 80 days.” Regardless of your zest for resolutions, long winter nights are a good time to dream. Dreams make for an inspiring start to the year, as these visions of our future are usually optimistic – these are the things we want to be doing with our precious time! But dreams are a difficult medium to draw boundaries around. They can be ephemeral or palpable, transitory or enduring. Dreams are also inherently unique and no two are the same! We each have it in us to dream something enormous, inspiring and life-changing for our foreseeable future. This time last year, I was busy dreaming about riding bikes across the tundra wilderness. Tundra pictures were everywhere in our house! The background of my computer was plastered with a family picture from a Yukon peak. That image shone through the dark days of winter, when my motivation slips. Within that image, the northern light, the smiles on our faces, and the total lack of people inspired me for much of the year. This one picture fostered wanderlust, and a desire to escape our hectic home life. Moving from idealistic dreams to actionable goals is the pitfall of many a New Year’s resolution. Dreams are the springboard for goals, and goals represent tasks which are action steps that are 100% achievable.
Here are a few steps to move from dreaming to doing:
1. Carve out the time in your schedule. Request the time off work. Clear your schedule, or at least don’t book anything extra in the time you hope to be away. Make sure your loved ones are on board, and help them clear their schedules if need be.
2. Pick a destination. Look at coffee table books with big glossy images that pull at your heart and have you saying, “I want to go there.” In these early stages of the planning process, know that you are painting with broad brush strokes and you have lots of time to sort out the details. You might say to yourself, “I want to go to Mongolia.” Take some pressure off yourself at this stage, realizing that the trip you dream about will likely be totally different than the one you set out on. You will learn many things through the planning process, which is part of the fun of dreaming and researching your adventure!
3. Decide on the focus of your trip and make sure everyone who is going shares a similar outlook. Are you riding from Point A to Point B, or basing out of one location and taking off somewhere different each day? Is this a no-expense-spared vacation, or a dirtbag endeavor?
4. Figure out the big logistics, like travel to and from your destination, accommodations, and what gear you need to make this the best adventure ever. Problems that arise out of these logistics can send you searching for new destinations, or may require significant changes to your original intentions. Flexibility will help you get the most out of your time away.
5. Look into the finer details as your time and interests allow. If you want a bit more adventure, figure things out once you land at the trailhead. If you like to minimize surprises, pour over every resource you can find, but still expect the unexpected.
Regardless of your planning process, don’t let anything dissuade you from heading out the door on your adventure. Your world is as big as you make it! Looking back at the process of planning our bike trip to the Arctic, I’m amazed at how different the reality was from my initial dreams. The two months we spent riding as a family in the
Canadian North were the most challenging and memorable of our entire year. We experienced apprehension and excitement, difficulty and reward, all far beyond anything we could have imagined in the comforts of our home. Looking back at our adventure, we are left with a wealth of intense memories of a wild road through beautiful country, and of generous people who went out of their way to help us. Most importantly, the journey made us stronger as a family and as individuals.
This cycle of dream and discovery also has a way of repeating itself, and may be the most healthy habit you can pick up. As I look into 2018, I find myself dreaming of other distant horizons, sunny vistas, and time outside under a warmer sun. Dreams are percolating in my head as I write this, and I’m confident that these will take me into the New Year with inspired action and a curiosity of what is over the next ridge or around that bend in the road.
As a family the Clarks carve out big chunks of time for self-propelled adventures. Find out why Outside Online called the Clarks “The Most Adventurous Family in the US”.