I wouldn’t have conquered the Inca Trail without goals

Inca Trail goals

Are you a “goals” person?


I am.


Many years ago, I heard Wayne Gretzky’s famous quote, You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.  He was a professional ice hockey player, so he was talking about hockey.  But he was talking about so much more than that, too.  It refers to opportunities and risks for sure, but if you don’t even know what you are shooting toward, you can never hit your target.


I learned a lot about goals on our recent trip to Peru – specifically that setting and reaching smaller goals prepares you for the larger ones.


On the first day of our hike, the entire first half was pretty easy.  We were on fairly flat terrain, following the course of a river.  We reached our lunch stop in high spirits, and with ease.


Starting us off with an easy win set us up for success later.


After lunch, our guide warned us that there was going to be a “little bit uphill”.  As the path became steeper and our breath became more labored and the river dropped further away, we began doubting our guide.  This is a little uphill?  We were taking frequent rest breaks and laboring pretty hard at the 9,000 foot elevation.  We made it to camp for the night and collapsed, joking about how “easy” it was supposed to be, when in reality we had felt very challenged.


It wasn’t until the next day that we understood why our guide had called the first day’s hike easy.


The context of the goal creates perspective.


From the moment we broke camp, we started going up.  And up.  And up.


Day two had us climbing over 5,000 more feet up in elevation.  Some of it was on paths, but most of it was on ancient stone steps.  Some steps were four inches high, others were 24 inches high.  The higher we climbed, the thinner the air became.  I learned about tiered goals at that point!  My immediate goal was to go the next 20 steps without taking a rest break.  (No, I’m not exaggerating!  20 steps was a challenge!)  The mid-range goal was to cross Warmiwanusca Pass (or Dead Woman’s Pass in English) – the highest point of our journey on the Inca Trail, with an elevation of 13,796 feet above sea level.  The final goal was to make it to camp…where we would finally eat lunch after hiking back down 2,000 feet in elevation on the other side of the pass.


Multi-level goals keep the end in sight while focusing on the steps to get there.


By the fourth day, the day we arrived in Macchu Picchu, we came to a section of the trail fondly named “the gringo killers”.  It was well before 6:30am, and we reached a set of steps that rose up so steeply that you almost had to look backwards to see the top.  We were instructed to climb them on our hands and feet, like monkeys.  Our guide was convinced we would hate them….but we ended up loving them!  Yes, they were extremely difficult.


But we had conquered enough obstacles in the past that we knew we could conquer what was in front of us.


The reward for all of our hard work?


The view of one of the world’s greatest wonders.   Macchu Picchu.


The journey was incredible.  Along the way, I had goals that motivated me, challenged, be, and gave me the opportunity to celebrate when they were accomplished.


Are you ready to embrace setting goals?


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