Stick to a Plan! A few years ago, my husband and I went hiking in Arches National Park in southern Utah. I am not a hiker, but as a young wife, I wanted to support my husband in his adventures. We had made a plan to hike to the central arch, which is a spectacular experience, or so we had heard.
Our hike began like all the others. I was worried about the local animals finding me and trying to finish as fast as possible. There were other people on the trail, but no one necessarily walking near us. As we ventured on, we noticed stacked little rocks on top of each other along the path. My husband commented that they are trail markers that show hikers milestones reached along the trail. I rolled my eyes and told him that was ridiculous. “Who would take the time to stack rocks for that reason?”, I asked.
In fact, the more I studied the trail and our end destination, the more I realized that we were obviously going away from our goal because the stacked rocks kept taking us in a zig-zag sort of way that was not the most direct route. My smarter self-discovered plan was that if we went more of a direct path, we would reach the arch in less time. Being a young husband, my husband wanted to support his wife in her adventures, and reluctantly listened to me.
Stick to a Plan
It didn’t take long to realize that my more direct path was going to get us to the end much quicker than the original way. I was so proud of myself for beating the system. Then something weird happened. My trail became less passable as hiked. It was steep, uneven ground. As I labored to walk, I looked across the way, a good quarter of a mile from where we were, at all the other hikers, some elderly, making it just beautifully to the arch. I kept wondering, “How are those old ladies hiking this rough terrain?” Before we knew it, we had blindly found ourselves on the side of a cliff, hanging on very tight to what little brush and rocks we could find to hold on too. In my young 24-year-old mind, all I could think was, “I want to have children! I can’t fall off this cliff!”
After prayer and guts, we managed to crawl to a less sloped part and climb our way back up. We had, in fact, made it to the arch. We were sitting below it in a perilous position, and we were too exhausted and terrified to enjoy it. All I could focus on was seeing the vacationers on the other side, off in the distance, with their cameras, smiles and breathtaking awe of what they were seeing. I, on the other hand, just wanted to go home.
Finally, we backtracked our way through “our” trail and back to the real trail. When we saw the little-stacked rocks, we knew we had found the correct path. My husband was determined to see the arch from the practical perspective and wanted to hike to it the right way. I was too upset because of my cliff-hanging to go, so I stayed behind. When he returned, he told me that he followed the stacked rocks the whole way. Yes, they weren’t a direct route and did zigzag, making you feel, at times, like you were going in the opposite direction of the destination, but they took you the best way. The safe way. Once he reached the arch from the trail, he said it was stunning and passed plenty of older adults who were smart enough to follow the set path without any risk to themselves.
Back on Track; Stick to a Plan
How often do we make goals and a plan to reach those goals only to decide halfway through we’re too impatient to follow through? It’s natural for us to want to reach the end fast but at what cost? Would the end be how we intended? It could have been so much better if we had been persistent and patient. We may find ourselves facing the opposite direction of our goal, but that isn’t always a bad thing. It may be a stumbling block we need to grow from, or a means to an end we just can’t see yet.
Don’t be afraid to make goals and most importantly, don’t be scared to reach them. Make a plan for your purposes and stick with it. If you veer off, find your way back. Set milestones, or small stacked rocks, to check your progress. Be patient with yourself and the process because the destination will be well worth it. And remember, stick to a plan!
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