Lessons Learned – Keep Trying

Over the years, I've come to realize there are many lessons to be learned while enjoying the great outdoors that can apply to the overall road towards a positively healthy life, and I've found a way to share that with others through discussions over some of the many photos I've taken on my own adventures.

You don’t always reach your goal the first time. So just try again.

When hiking, this can happen all the time. I was snowshoeing near Mt. Rainier with a friend, and as we got back to the Jeep, we ran into another woman who was coming down from a different trail and told us about how she had been up to this lake and there was a nice view of Mt. Rainier from up there.

I decided to try and go back with some others, we did so the following month. There was still lots of snow, a small waterfall and some other great things to check out, including this pond area that spilled across the trail. We had fun working our way across it, but less than half-mile beyond, and about a full mile before we would be to the lake, the trail was cut off by a small avalanche of snow that was just not safe to cross. So we stopped there for our lunch break before heading back the way we came.

That summer, I took another group up. No snow this time, but there was still plenty of water to cross and the waterfall was even more impressive. This time we did make it up to the lake. I think. It was obscured by clouds and fog. So much so, we could barely make out the lake itself.

So that fall, Bonnie and I decided to try again. There were clouds, but the forecast was calling for clearing weather as we departed that morning. And I had warned Bonnie about the water crossing. As we made our way up the trail, it was evident the clouds were there to stay, and the water crossing… well it was dried up so the sandals for crossing were left in our packs.

At least this time, we got some nice photos of the lake itself and listened to a lot of birds in the area as we sat by the lake and ate our lunches.

The following May, another small group of us tried one more time. The road was clear, but as we got to higher elevations we did come across increasing amounts of snow, and the waterfall was rushing to the point of overflowing portions of the trail. The water crossing that ended up being dry last June was deeper than ever with the spring snow melt in full swing.

But none of that really mattered, because there was not a cloud in the sky, and this was going to be the day I got up to the lake, and got the view of Mt. Rainier. Once again, we enjoyed lunch by the lake, this time with the Rainier’s peak, well, peeking at us from across the lake.

When it comes to making a plan or setting a goal, it’s important to realize that sometimes you might just not make it. And really, that might be ok. Not reaching a goal shouldn’t be something you automatically use to brand yourself as a failure. As realistic as we think our goals may be, life happens. Things can occur that are as much out of your control as the weather.

One thing you can do is have a backup plan. A fall-back goal. If things happen that you realize are going to prevent you from reaching your goal, what’s an acceptable alternative? For example, maybe you make the goal of getting to the gym four times a week for the next six weeks, but a couple weeks in you’re given a rush project at work and have to work some extra hours. You’re just wiped out, and between other obligations, there just isn’t the time to make to the gym four times this week. So maybe making it twice, and taking a walk after dinner one evening is an acceptable backup.

Or maybe you don’t reach a goal because of something you actively decided to do. Such as, eating something totally off your plan. So many times when this happens, we beat ourselves up over it, which often leads to compounding things because we’ve already “blown” this week, might as well not even try.

kitten face planted in food

What you need to remember instead, is that you’re just one meal away from being back on track.

I could get into a whole ‘nother discussion on goal setting. Probably several, but overall the thing to remember is that this sentiment applies, no matter what the goal is. If you don’t reach it, for whatever reason, don’t give up. You are allowed to try again. And again.


The point of these topics is not for just me to just share them and move on, but rather to foster some discussion on these ideas and how they apply in "your" life. We're not sitting around the same table, but we can still have a discussion. Just leave your own thoughts in the comments below, or send them to me privately if you prefer. Find the other topics using the lessons learned tag.

What are some goals you set for yourself that you haven’t yet reached? Have you given up? Are you ready to try again? Or maybe share a goal that you didn’t reach the first time and what were your follow up attempts like?

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