A little over two years ago, I was looking for something different to do on our wedding anniversary. I’m not sure how I came to the conclusion that doing something outdoors would be appropriate, but that’s what I decided. We were going to travel to Damascus, Virginia and bicycle the Virginia Creeper Trail on Saturday and climb Mt. Rogers on Sunday. In between, I slipped in a romantic dinner at a local restaurant. Does this sound like something you would do on your anniversary? For us, it was way different than our typical celebration!
When we arrived at the trailhead for Mt. Rogers on Sunday, it was foggy and drizzly, but we start our climb anyway. For much of the climb, we couldn’t see very much due to the fog. About halfway up, it started to rain – hard. I thought for sure, we would turn around and head back to the comfort of our hotel room; after all, this wasn’t very romantic. Instead, we pressed on and made it to the summit. I’ll never forget my wife’s big smile when we got there. We took several photos and then descended the mountain. During the descent, the weather cleared and we were treated to beautiful views, rainbows and close up encounters with the wild ponies that inhabit the area.
What happened next was totally unexpected. We both agreed that our anniversary weekend was a total blast, and that the experience of making the summit was exhilarating. So, we decided to do it again. A month later, we summited North Carolina’s Mt. Mitchell, and we were hooked! These two experiences were the beginning of our quest to drive, hike or climb to the highest point in as many of the United States as possible. As of this writing, we have successfully made it to 42 “highpoints,” as they are called.
At this point, you may be wondering why we are on this mission…
Well, there are several reasons, not the least of which is that we are both goal and achievement oriented! More importantly, though, is that we are getting to see our country, meet new people, create new experiences, become more healthy, get out of our comfort zone, team build as a couple and generate stories that we will remember and talk about for the rest of our lives. You see, these benefits of our quest are actually part of our Second Half Strategy – part of our guidelines for living during our second half. We spent our first half getting educated, raising children and building careers and businesses. Although our families and careers are still very important to us, we are both looking for added fulfillment.
Too many of us plod through life without a plan for how we are going to actually live our life outside of work and raising children; we simply go through the motions. We have all heard the phrase, “this is not a dress rehearsal,” yet many of us proceed as though we will have the opportunity to participate in some future final performance. I used to conduct my life the same way, but my thinking turned on this subject in June 2002. I was sitting next to my Dad on a bench in his back yard. He was 64 and dying of cancer. During our time together that day, he looked at me and said these words: “don’t make the same mistake I did. I thought I would work hard until retirement, and then I would enjoy all of the things I have dreamed of doing. I didn’t make it” This was our last conversation.
Ever since that day, I have tried to be more intentional about things I do in life. Highpointing is part of that intentionality.
I encourage you to get off of life’s roller coaster, even for a day. Go somewhere where there will be no interruptions. Turn off the cell phone. Dream, vision, plan and repeat. Write down the results. The first time we did this, we wrote frantically on little cocktail napkins because that is all we had! Then, put a component of your vision into place. For us, highpointing started with one idea, one day, one mountain. Our quest has been extremely fulfilling; we have learned so much about ourselves, and it has shown us how the world opens up when you try things that you never thought you might be interested in. Now, I ask you,
“What is your second half strategy?”