How Goal Setting Taught Me 3 Important Lessons In Life (& The Night I Slept At -25°, In A Tent!)

Goal Setting

Today I’m sharing a story that not too many people know, it’s a story I’m incredibly proud of and a story I hope might inspire you too.

A few years ago, I set a goal, a fairly simple goal and then I forgot about it.  I was on a course, swept up in the moment and wrote a number of goals, short & long term.

I typed up my list of goals and other bits & bobs I’d taken away from the course, when I got home and proudly pinned them to my Vision Board.

But, time marched on, we moved house, I changed careers and my old Vision Board was delegated to the garage, with the rest of our ‘stuff to deal with later’.

Cleaning out our garage one random day mid 2009, the year I’d turned 39, I came across the Vision Board with it’s now dusty, tattered list of goals and there it was, one simple typed sentence shouting at me. “By the time I am 40, I will have travelled to Nepal”.

That was it, pretty simple huh, nothing too outrageous, a simple desire to visit a country I’d always been intrigued by. Something that 2-3 years earlier seemed completely doable.  But, here I was, in my garage, with my 40 tap dancing towards me and I hadn’t been.

Hadn’t even contemplated going, since the day I’d pinned those goals to that Vision Board.  Wow.

In that moment I could vividly remember that day in Melbourne, I’d felt so inspired, ready to take on the world and so sure that I would achieve everything I set out on that damn list.

But here I was, a number of years later, fast approaching the date I’d dared to set for this dream, with nothing but a dusty, tattered, long forgotten list to show for it.

Which got me thinking. OK, I’ve got time, I can still do this, I haven’t actually failed, I’m just running out of time.  In reality, taking significant overseas holidays isn’t as easy as it used to be.

Being a Mum, with two boys who were aged 9 & 7 and no family that could step in to help us out, hubby and I talked through all the ways that we could make this trip happen. 

But it was a given that it wouldn’t be a trip we could take together, as much as we both wished it was.

Next stop, girls trip.  The obvious next step when you plan to get away without the family – awesome!!!  My close girlfriends knew I was planning this trip and all were incredibly supportive, interested and loved the idea.

But, at the end of the day, this was my dream, my goal and 3 weeks trekking in Nepal is a far cry from a week shopping in Singapore or lounging by a pool in Bali … your usual girls getaway fare!

So, it was down to me.  At 39 years of age, having never travelled overseas by myself, I booked a 3 week trip to a country I really knew very little about, with a group of people I’d never met.  Holy guacamole, what was I thinking!!

I’m not going to bore you with all the details but I’m very proud to say that in February 2010, 3 months before I turned 40, I travelled to Nepal from Sydney, alone. 

Met my small group of fellow trekkers in Kathmandu and over the next 3 weeks, flew to Lukla (which was a terrifying experience within itself!) and trekked to Everest Base Camp.

I slept in a tent most nights, including 2 nights at Gorak Shep (the final stop before EBC) at -25°. 

All night it snowed, with the sound of distant avalanches cracking, yak bells ringing out as they maneuvered their way amongst our tents and Sherpa’s sweeping the snow off our tents to ensure they didn’t collapse in on us. 

No wonder my girlfriends hadn’t rushed to join me!

Yep, I did it.  I kicked that goals butt, big time!  But it wasn’t easy, far from it.  It was one of the most challenging things I have ever done, physically and more surprisingly, emotionally.  I cried, a lot.

I cried the day I left my family at the airport, I cried mid way through the trek on the side of a mountain, blown away by where I was, the magnitude of what I was looking at and because I was alone. 

I cried the day I got home because I was exhausted, hungry, dirty and so desperately wished that I’d had someone to share my amazing journey with.

But I’d achieved something far bigger than what I originally set out to do, the day that I wrote that simple goal.  I’d taken myself waaaay out of my comfort zone that I’d blown every preconceived idea I had of my own capabilities, right out of the water.

What I learnt on that incredible 3 week journey and what I am so grateful to carry with me, every day, are invaluable life lessons that I hope can inspire you too.  I learnt that:-

• I am unbelievably strong, physically, emotionally and spiritually and capable of doing so much more than I ever realized or would have known with out pushing my own boundaries.

• I can do anything.  When I get those moments of negative inner trash talk, when I don’t want to do something or think something is going to be too hard.

I give myself a good talking to and tell that inner voice that I conquered Nepal, nothing will ever be that hard again and I proved then, that I really can do anything.

• I have the ability to inspire people. Through my actions, my stories and through my journey, I have inspired people, I know, because they’ve told me.

Knowing what I’ve learnt makes me incredibly happy, super proud and drives me to do what I do today.

To be able to help others realize their dreams, their potential and kick their goals butts, no matter how big or small those goals are, is why I wake up every morning with a smile on my face (aside from my gorgeous boys  and the love & support of a good man!).

How can my story help you?  I want you to believe in yourself, set yourself goals and then don’t be afraid to back yourself when the time comes to achieve those goals. 

You are an incredible person with the ability to do great things, far greater than you probably give yourself credit for.

Never be afraid to take yourself out of your comfort zone!

Yes, it will be uncomfortable, it will be challenging and you’ll have moments where you want to just give up and that annoying inner voice will be telling you that you can’t do it, it will be easier to go back to what you know, what’s safe.

But I want you to tell that voice to shut the hell up, that you’re stronger than it and that you WILL prove it wrong.

I want you to go off and dream big – set yourself a goal, or goals and set yourself a deadline, a date for when you will have achieved these by. 

Because let me tell you, if I hadn’t included in that one little sentence, “by the time I’m 40 …”, I wouldn’t be sharing this journey with you today.

Simply, I wouldn’t have done it.  What would have driven me? I’d be sitting back saying … one day, I’ll get to Nepal.  Yeah, right, one day.

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Sonya Lovell

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