Goal oriented to results satisfied

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Before starting this trip I had the pleasure of spending time with a seasoned traveller. He shared many of his stories of both bicycle touring and general travel. One thing he kept stressing was that part of the adventure is to not have a plan and to kind of “go with the flow.” Every time he started talking about that sort of mindset, I smiled as I thought to myself “I don’t know about that. That seems ludicrous and risky.”

My friend and I grew up and worked in very different environments. He grew up in Germany and was “coming of age” in the 1970s (don’t kill me if I’m wrong). He traveled as a young man and eventually left Germany to “settle” in the U.S. He never really settled, and continues to set the map on fire with constant travel adventures.

I grew up in rural Kansas with my “adulthood” starting in 2002. I went straight to college, studied aboad, graduated, and went straight into a “career”. I grew up being taught from an early age to set long-term goals and short-term milestones to reach them. This has been stressed at every point in my life through school and work. Americans in general are taught to be “goal oriented”, and this is why what my friend was trying to tell me seemed ludicrous. How could I live a life where I don’t really have any external motivation (goals are a way to make internal thoughts into external motivation) to achieve anything? No reason to move on to the next city. No reason to get up and do something with my day. I thought that people needed goals to meet so they could feel accomplished.

I WAS WRONG! Pre-planning the first week of my trip led to me ride in terrible conditions (hungover, and in bad weather), and really made me quite miserable. I have ridden in some rough conditions since then, but weather can be unpredictable at times, and it has never been as bad as those first few days. I didn’t immediately stop planning after that first week, but my planning became shorter term. It has continued to shrink to a point where I might book a bed the morning of arrival, or I might just mark a few places on Google maps along my planned route and show up at one later that day.

It turns out that sometimes setting goals and being focused on them gets in the way of appreciating the path and the acomplishment. I know there are many old adages that express this, but I tend to be an experiential learner.

At my old job they evaluate you on whether you are goal oriented and results driven. Maybe that’s important in large corporations,  but I’m not sure that it’s beneficial for individuals either personally or professionally. I know that I’ve been happier the last few weeks since I started planning less and living more. My weekly mileage average hasn’t  dropped either, so it’s a mixture of how I’m doing it (shorter days, riding more often) and how I’m thinking about it.

The change to “results satified”, not to be confused with “results driven”, isn’t instantaneous and it isn’t always comfortable. But, the feeling I get at the end (or middle) of the day when I can just say “That’s enough for today.” is wonderful. I feel accomplished and I have energy and time to go do other things. My motivation to get out of bed is precisely because I don’t know what the day will bring. My motivation to ride is that I love to ride, and not that I “need to cover xx miles today.” This is the life I’ve been looking for. This is the life my friend tried to convey to me which sounded so foreign and ridiculous.

The weather for the next week to 10 days doesn’t look great, but it will be an opportunity to really sink into this new way of thinking, and let the circumstances guide my way. While I’m excited to be in the mountains and want to climb, I’ll just “go with the flow” and things will work out eventually.

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The mountains call to me like the sea calls the sailor. Or maybe like the rodeo calls the cowboy…”

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Published by: Andrew Monfort

I am a former engineer who decided to follow my dreams. After 9 years of working as a process engineer in the oil & gas production and refining industries, I decided to follow my passions (cycling and travel) to see where they lead.

2 Comments

2 thoughts on “Goal oriented to results satisfied”

  1. I like it, I kind of agree with it but my mind shies away from the thought, like it is too hot to hold…maybe commitments and responsibilities make this an uncomfortable concept for me to reflect on except in the most abstract and remote terms. Love you and I am glad that you are happy.

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  2. I like it! More than one way to live life. Driven by curiosity! To wake up in the morning wondering what the day will bring, what is around the corner, what is over the hill, who we will meet, or what we will see!

    Like

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