At 6 a.m. my alarm goes off. I hit the snooze control for just five more minutes of rest. The darn thing goes off again. I’m up, my eyes are half-open and my body moves at a slow pace….picking up speed when I notice my time to get ready for work is limited.
From the closet I select a pair of pants and attempt to match a shirt. I pull underwear, socks and my belt from the dresser and move quickly to the bathroom. I briskly brush my teeth, gargle and shave, and then I hop in and out of the shower. Once dressed, I grab a piece of toast and a banana to eat on the run, pack my lunch, grab my work-pack, and head out to the car. Oops, I almost forgot my wife. She joins me, since we both work at a university and we commute together.
We live in the country and work in a small college town. After a 25-mile ride, we park the car and briskly hike to our offices. I always hit the road running once I get to my location. And, there is never a dull day in my line of work as a university director of disability services.
The day ends and we either make a stop for groceries, run an errand, or attend a program; and sometimes I make a presentation to a group interested in what I may have to say. Then it is another 25-mile commute home. When we arrive home in winter, I start a fire in our fireplace, have supper followed by a little TV, or I do some evening work on the computer. I then get ready for bed. I think to myself, “Where did the day go?”
And the next day, the routine begins all over again. My schedule is analogous to the Greek mythology of Sisyphus who was condemned for eternity to push a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down for him to start rolling it back up the hill again. Well, I may be exaggerating a bit…quite a bit. But sometimes it seems that way.
I find it difficult to schedule my outdoor adventures into my busy work and home life routines. And when winter arrives, this of course presents a problem for me, given my love for snowshoeing. So, I ask, is this true for you? With too much to do and so little time to do it in, do you find very little time for doing those outdoor things you really would like to do…like snowshoeing?
I recommend a four-step approach to assure you break away from your busy life and get out on your snowshoes during winter. This plan can also be adapted for other times of the year and for other outdoor recreation activities, such as camping, canoeing, kayaking, bicycling, hiking, backpacking…and the list goes on.
Four-step plan for getting someone on the go…on snowshoes
In my job and in my daily living, I find that when I design a plan, things happen. Therefore, in order to assure that someone on the go gets out on snowshoes in winter, we need to have a plan. This plan requires a commitment, a written design with a reward in mind, and follow-through.
Step 1 – Make a Commitment: Before undertaking any adventure, activity or project, one needs to be committed to it. Without a commitment, chances are you will not follow-through with your plan. A commitment in this case is a mental agreement with oneself saying, “I will follow-through with my snowshoeing plan….come hell or high water.” Call it a pact with yourself or a promise to your ego, either way you do need to be committed to your plan in order to get out on your snowshoes.
Step 2 – Write or Type a Plan: When coming up with any plan, I recommend putting it in writing….or type it into a document. A written or typed plan provides a tangible account that can be referenced, serves as a reminder and a motivator, and allows for modifications when needed.
Part A of the plan should include identifying a general goal for snowshoeing. It is important though, that this goal is small and achievable. If you make your goal too large from the outset, it can lead to disappointment. However, if the goal is small enough to add to your schedule, it’s much more likely to achieve, and in the long run become habitual. For example, “I plan to alter my busy schedule in order to snowshoe at least once weekly during the season” or “I plan to take a vacation day or alter my schedule to go snowshoeing at least one this winter”.
Part B of the plan should state timelines that are specific. Select a day or dates, the amount of time to be spent on snowshoes and a frequency of outings; such as “I commit to a snowshoe outing once every weekend on either a Saturday or Sunday for 3 to 5 hours; starting January 1st.” Consider adding use of a vacation day to go snowshoeing once during the season or once a month, and specify when.
Part C involves making time. Making time can be challenging. It involves being a good time manager and setting priorities. For someone with a hectic job and busy family life, this can be difficult. Many people in their jobs set priorities with the most important tasks getting done first. Then there are those tasks that may have to wait. Making time for snowshoeing involves assessing your daily living priorities and identifying what can be put off or rescheduled so you can go on an outing. Since snowshoeing is an important part of your life, add it on your priority list and move some things around so that it fits it into your schedule. Also, making time may involve helping others in the family with managing their time so that the entire family can participate in snowshoeing.
Part D addresses the location. Look for locations close to home, such as a county or state park, a forested land, a nature center, or other areas that have snowshoe trails. You would not have to travel far and you can get in more outings more frequently. Then write down the locations in your plan. Planning for an outing that is farther away and involves some travel and an overnight stay can be a location option too. Consider the once-a-season trip to a popular resort that involves a weekend stay…or an overnight winter camping adventure on snowshoes. Build it into your plan and write it down.
Part E would include the logistics, equipment, and supplies needed. Now that you know where you are going, invite those who you would like going with you and work out the travel arrangements. Pack the needed clothing, snowshoes, hiking poles, daypack filled with safety and comfort gear, food and water, and anything else needed for your adventure. Make a checklist of items, and check them off as you pack for your outing.
Step 3 – Identify a Reward and Motivator: Rewards from a snowshoeing adventure are mostly intrinsic. In other words, that which rewards you after snowshoeing and motivates you to go again is a feeling inside of you….a feeling of accomplishment, challenge, pride, enrichment and happiness. These are all intrinsic rewards and motivators. They alone should keep you committed to your snowshoeing plan.
However, some people may need an extrinsic reward to help keep them motivated to snowshoes again. What would be extrinsic in this case? An extrinsic reward could include treating yourself to an enjoyable meal at a favorite restaurant near the trailhead, or stopping for a beer and snacks at a local tavern after snowshoeing. Another may be to treat oneself to hot chocolate while wrapped in a comforter and sitting close to a warming fireplace at home afterwards. Looking forward to any of these rewards makes the end of the trail a nice welcome.
Step 4 – Implement: It is now time to take action. You made the commitment to go snowshoeing. You wrote up your plan to do so. And you may have added in a stop at your favorite café afterwards. Everything sounds good, in theory that is. But now is the time to actually follow through with your plan. Pack your snowshoes and added gear. Gas up the car and pick up whoever is going with you… and go snowshoeing.
When the four-step plan takes effect
At 6 a.m. my alarm goes off. I hit the snooze control for 10 more minutes of rest. The darn thing goes off again. I’m up, my eyes are half-open and my body moves at a slow pace….picking up speed when I realize I have a day of snowshoeing ahead of me. I decided to take a vacation day today.
From the closet I select my winter layers, wool-blend socks, waterproof-breathable jacket and snow pants, and hiking boots. I briskly brush my teeth, gargle and shave, and then I hop in and out of the shower. Once dressed, I sit down to two eggs, hash browns, toast and a glass of milk. I then grab my daypack, my snowshoes and hiking staff and head out to the car. Oops, I almost forget my wife again. However, she decided not to take the day off work and will not be going snowshoeing with me this time. I then drive 15 miles to the trailhead of a popular snowshoe area at one of our county parks.
As hectic and busy as life may seem, do not complicate it by depriving yourself of exercise, enjoyment, and enrichment. In winter when weather may seem to be a barrier to getting outdoors, snowshoeing can offer you these three life pleasures…and you can fit into your daily living schedule. You just need a plan and stick to it.