Happy New Year! Did you resolve to get fit? Be less stressed? Spend more time with loved ones? Work towards your goals by getting outside in 2012. Image courtesy: Flickr User Amani Hasan (CC).
Happy New Year! After a brief hiatus in December, Tucson Outdoors is back and ready for 2012. A big thank you to all of you, the readers who helped make the blog’s first few months a fledgling success. Thank you for reading, and please let me know what you’d like to see in 2012. Questions and comments are always welcome.
I hope you all had a restful winter break and got a chance to visit with friends and family over the holidays. If you’re anything like me, you probably ate and drank in a little more merriment than usual… But today is a new day–a new year–and an opportunity to turn over that proverbial new leaf [insert groan, sigh, or snort here].
Lets’ face it: resolutions are tough. They start out full of hope and promise but often descend into guilt, shame, and failure as the year progresses. TIME has compiled a list of 10 commonly broken New Year’s resolutions, and to me they read like a familiar inventory of my good intentions over the years. Get fit. Spend more time with family. Be less stressed.
Why is it that we have such a hard time keeping our resolutions? Personally, I think it’s because we make such grand, sweeping promises that they are almost impossible to keep. I’m often guilty of making a dozen small steps in the right direction but not giving myself credit because I haven’t reached my nebulous goal of “fit” of “less stressed.” Feeling like I’m failing is a great anti-motivator–and the vicious cycle begins. We wouldn’t state career goals for the coming year as “be more successful” or “save the world,” so why state our personal goals in such broad strokes? It’s a recipe for failure.
So this year, I suggest something a little different. Instead of a resolution, make a New Year’s strategy. Lay out a series of small–and here’s the most important part–achievable steps you will take in 2012 to make yourself happier and healthier.
Here’s an example for tackling the oft repeated (and abandoned) resolutions of get fit, spend more time with family, and be less stressed. Not surprisingly, this strategy revolves around getting outdoors:
Cover of Tucson Hiking Guide by Betty Leavengood Image Courtesy: Christine Hoekenga
1) Get a local hiking book, and select several hikes you plan to complete this year. Choose the number and spacing realistically according to your schedule and commitments. Think you can reliably get out there once a week? Great. Pick 52 hikes. But if every other week or even once a month is more realistic, start there. You can always go more frequently than you planned, but don’t make your goal so overwhelming you give up early on. And whatever your schedule, make sure you give yourself a “get out of guilt free” card that you can use at some point in the coming year. Things come up, and it’s important that one skipped hike doesn’t derail your plan. There are lots of outdoors guides geared to Southern Arizona, but one I recommend for a strategy of small steps is Betty Leavengood’s classic Tucson Hiking Guide. It’s designed for day-hikers, which means you can find hikes of all lengths and ability levels, allowing you to bring along those family members you want to spend more time with. (If you still have out-of-town visitors, check out this quick guide to places you can take the whole crew.)
An annual federal lands pass is a great deal for people who recreate on public lands regularly. Image Courtesy: National Park Service.
2) Invest in a public lands pass. The America the Beautiful pass, which used to cover just national parks, is now valid at more than 2,000 public recreation areas managed by the National Park Service, the BLM, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Forest Service. A regular annual pass is $80, but if you’re getting out on the trail regularly, it quickly pays for itself–and then starts saving you money (mine certainly has). Plus, it saves you the hassle of buying parking and trail passes every time you go out. In areas where fees are paid by the vehicle, display the mirror hang tag, and you’re covered. In per-person fee areas, the pass covers the pass holder and three additional adults. If you’re a senior (62+), a lifetime pass is a screaming deal at $10. For life. Don’t leave home without it.
Having a day pack always ready to go makes it easy to get out on the trail with minimum hassle. Image Courtesy: Christine Hoekenga
3) Put together a to-go pack that contains hiking essentials like a first aid kit, sunblock, binoculars, field guides, trail maps, etc. Having these items together and ready to go will make it that much easier to get out the door and on the trail quickly. Just add fresh water and food before each hike, and you’re good to go. If you’re a camper or a paddler or some other kind of outdoor adventurist, you can apply this same strategy to other collections of gear. Store things so they are as ready to go as possible. I was surprised what a difference this made for me. Plus, I’m much less prone to forgetting something important, like sunblock.
4) Share your goal. Write it down (preferably on a calendar that you use for important commitments). Tell your family and friends–and invite them to join you. Putting a goal in writing or saying it out loud can both solidify your commitment to making it happen and garner support and enthusiasm from loved ones. And please share your plans, triumphs, and (temporary) set-backs in the comments here on Tucson Outdoors.
5) Just go. OK, so you scheduled a 5 mile hike for today, but something came up and you have less time than you planned? Don’t fret. Go for a shorter hike. Do part of the loop and then come back. You’ll still feel invigorated, and you’ll still be working toward your goals.
So even if you’re a serial resolution breaker, there’s hope. 2012 can be the year you look back on as the year you started getting outdoors more often. And the year you kept your resolutions.
Happy New Year and happy trails!