Making the Time to Hike

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Getting out of the city and into the woods, (even out of my apartment and into the park), makes me feel like a better human. When I’m outside and moving my body through space, the thoughts of tasks and to-dos running through my head get quiet and I begin again to take in and appreciate the world around me.  I know this in my bones, and yet, (and yet!) it can be so hard to actually go out and do.

Why is that? Why do the soul-nourishing, self-care activities always seem to get pushed to the back burner?

I think it’s because getting outside is often not considered very important or urgent. If you’ve ever read Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” you may be familiar with his time management matrix. This quadrant divides the ways we spend our time into categories of important, not important, urgent and not urgent.

Many of us city dwellers live in the urgency, in quadrants 1 & 3. By necessity, we tackle the urgent and important things first – running late? Immediately start calculating if it’d be more efficient to run to the subway station or to get an Uber. On a deadline? Skip the gym, keep working and order dinner in. Get a call for last minute freelance gig? Drop everything to focus on that incoming money.

City living has molded me into someone who can pivot quickly and manage urgent tasks as they arise, but operating all the time in this space is no place to live and is why escaping to the woods is so appealing to me.

Developing long-term goals, building relationships and tasks like getting exercise lie in quadrant 2: not urgent but important. And though these life-changing tasks, the things that take time and dedication to get to a desired result, will have the greatest impact on our lives, they are the hardest to start and are often the first that get pushed when something more pressing comes along. By the time we finish with the urgencies, there’s often no energy left to focus on the bigger stuff.

The core reason I want to build up this community of city-living outdoorsy women is to help each other learn how to stop putting ourselves and our goals last on our lists. It takes dedication to get beyond those urgent commitments to work, to relationships or to kids and instead to focus on ourselves. Sometimes we need support from each other to get to that place. By letting go of the noise and getting into the woods with friends, we give ourselves the space to re-focus our energies on those goals that are truly important to us.

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Melissa GoodwinComment