Settling isn't always a bad thing, buying a Volvo for example instead of a McClaren F1 is probably a smart decision in the long run. A more realistic trade-off might be settling on watching "13 going on 30" (I may or may not be speaking from experience here) with your loved one instead of "Touching the Void". Settling is often about bridging our wildest hopes and reality and is an absolute necessity. It's when we get into trouble that settle for lowered expectations and settle for our own excuses. Dreams are not easy to make happen, but that's exactly why we shouldn't settle for anything less.
It's hard to plan a trip across the John Muir Trail, or the AT, or climb Mt. Everest, or Denali, or Rainier. It's hard to get time off from our responsibilities, hard to organize the logistics, and hard to get up the motivation to make it happen, and learn the skills nescessary to make sure you don't die trying.
My New Goal: Climb Mt. Rainier
If it's your dream though, it's worth it and it's the hard work that makes it worth it. It'a hardly ever the destination we remember, it's the journey. By pushing ourselves physically and mentally, we find our ceiling raised just a little bit each time. For most it takes a lifetime to be able to climb Mt. Everest, but it's within the ability of almost anyone depending on how willing they are to dedicate themselves to the task.
You've got to start somewhere
If your goal is climbing Mt. Everest start by climbing something, anything, take a class over a weekend on mountaineering. If your goal is backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail, go out and backpack a local trail. The important thing is to do something towards your goal, taking the first step is always the hardest part and breaking up the big tasks into manageable parts makes the whole thing seem less overwhelming.
Understand it's okay to fail
When I was in college I thought climbing Mt. Whitney would be hardcore. Last year I climbed it and failed but I had a blast doing so and I'm going back this year to try again. When my climbing partner backed out a couple days before we were set to depart it could have derailed the trip. In the end it free'd me of expectations and allowed me to simply have fun taking on a challenge. Suddenly the motivation came to me easily and before I knew it my boots were on the trail.
Don't settle for your own excuses
You have to be honest with yourself to know the difference between settling with something realistic and settling because something is difficult. If your greatest dream is to own a McClaren F1 (Okay, that's a pretty shallow goal) perhaps it's not best to settle and instead concentrate on ways to make the money needed to by a million dollar car. Just because very few people do something does not mean it should not be done.
What are your goals for 2011 and what are you doing to make them happen?
Pssst: You might have noticed this was posted at 12:00am EST, it's something new I'm trying so if you like the new post time (or hate it) feel free to send feedback to email@example.com