I've just finished reading Appalachian Trials by Zach Davis. (Read my book review here.)
Using a classic coaching first step, he encourages thru-hiker wannabes like me to spell out our why.
I am thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail because:
I need to restore my sense of unwavering self-confidence in the face of any challenge.
I need to follow through and complete something epic and difficult, so that I can complete more epic and difficult things later.
I want to learn how to ask for help when I need it.
Because riding a bike across Europe was one of the things I've done that I'm most proud of and I want to do more things to make myself proud.
It's a dream I buried that doesn't want to stay buried.
It will make me feel like an uber-capable extraordinary bad-ass, and I want to feel like an uber-capable extraordinary bad-ass.
My peeps are on the trail and I want to be with my peeps.
I'm craving adventure.
I'm happiest when I'm in nature doing things according to my own schedule.
I want to appreciate my life as much as I possibly can and to gain perspective on the little things at home that get on my nerves.
I want to learn how to "hike my own hike," both on the trail and in life.
I need to alter my life, to find my direction, my true North and to commit to setting my compass to MY true North and not wavering from my path. (Which, frankly, I've already done. I'm so dang excited about this new chapter I could do a back flip right now. But I'd probably hurt myself and then not get to go. So, no back flips. I'll just keep following this thread to my true North and see where it takes me.)
When I successfully thru-hike the Appalachian Trail...
I will have developed incredible confidence in myself as a capable, strong, self-possessed woman who knows what she wants and does what it takes to get it.
I will have a compelling and unusual story.
I will have grit.
I will have a gift of knowledge and experience to share with others who will come after me to hike the trail; I'll be able to give back to my pack.
I will know who I am, what I can accomplish and what I'm worth.
I will have a new perspective on life.
I will be a member of an elite club (of uber-capable extraordinary bad-asses).
I will learn how to reframe any problems or difficulties I encounter.
I will have succeeded at something epic, challenging and incredibly unusual.
I will be proud of myself.
If I give up on the Appalachian Trail...
I will be so disappointed in myself.
I will blow my chances at this new life direction that I'm so excited about right now.
I will stop saying yes to challenging things.
I won't remember how to succeed or what success feels like.
I'll use it as an excuse to stop believing in myself.
I won't be able to face my friends or clients or family.
I won't be a bad-ass.
I won't get to inspire other women who want to feel comfortable and capable alone in the mountains.
I won't get a trail name.
Those feelings of shame and failure and disappointment will permeate and tinge everything I do, so that I'll be constantly looking for ways to perpetuate the failure and disappointment ad nauseum. I just can't live with that. Which is why failure is not an option.