Thinking about my preparations for the PCT this year, and what I was doing last year to prepare for the AT has been making me think a lot about motivation. What drives people to work hard and do well? Why are some people more motivated than others?
Last year, before my parents and I left for the Appalachian Trail, we were planning on taking a ‘victory’ cruise after we had finished the trail. While this reward was not something that influenced my decision on whether I should do the hike or not, it was certainly an exciting thing to look forward to once I did decide to embark on this journey. I thought for sure if I started to struggle on the hike, the thought of a Caribbean cruise would be enough to set me straight and keep me going. We realized early on that the hike was going to cost more than we thought and the cruise went out the window pretty quick. To be honest though, the second we started hiking, the idea of the cruise was never on my mind. I was focused on living in the present and I found I didn’t need the motivator of a vacation to help me keep going.
So what did motivate me to keep going? No matter how much you love hiking, there are going to be days or times when you just don’t feel like going for a hike. On a thru hike, you have to find a way to overcome those days or there is a chance you’ll run out of time or money and not be able to finish your hike. What motivated me to keep going was thinking of all the places on the trail I had yet to see. All the memories I had yet to make. So much of our society’s motivation comes from money- you work hard so you can make more money and buy more things. It’s such a material world, but there is nothing material about the trail.
This year, in my preparations for the Pacific Crest Trail I am working the hardest I have worked in my life. I work full time at Panera Bread, part time at REI, and I am studying hard to get an A in my first class of graduate school. My schedule is hectic right now but every time I feel tired or overwhelmed, I think of when I get to take that first step on the PCT and how all this hard work will be worth it. With any luck, by the end of September I will be a PCT thru hiker and that is what motivates me. Will I have any material possessions to show for all my hard work? No, but what I will have is a greater respect for what I am capable of, a confidence in myself, and memories that will last more than a lifetime. I can’t say that I would be this motivated to work two jobs if I was just saving up money to buy a nicer car, or new clothes, or the latest gadgets that Apple has- because those things aren’t worth it to me. I believe this hike will be worth every ounce of hard work I am putting in to get there- and because of that, the motivation to work this hard is not hard to find.
I was telling a co-worker at Panera about my time on the Appalachian Trail and he said that even though he had never backpacked, that listening to me talk about it he “feels like its his favorite thing to do.” I think that so much of being happy in life is finding something that you love so much, that you can make other people love it to just by talking about it. Once you find it, you’ll have all the motivation you need to work hard and do what you love.
If you’d like to help me raise enough funds for my hike, please make a donation to my fundraiser. All donations are very much appreciated and at the end of my hike I will be donating as much as possible to the Red Cross, in memory of Trail Combs.
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