To some, goals often define our very lives. They are intended to give us purpose, to force us, in a way, to become better at whatever we choose to pursue, one small step at a time. Goals can also establish borders, walls, and boundaries around your life keeping you in constant check. They can also be tools to make you feel like a total failure in your life…which sometimes is a good thing. However, my hope is they become gentle reminders in my life to step outside my comfort zones, leading perhaps to new heights.
In my progression as a paraglider pilot, goals have been a vital, albeit simple way of keeping me marching forward. In the beginning they kept me focused on my training and kept pushing me towards more advanced ratings. Once the USHPA rating card was full I struggled with what to do next. I then reverted back to my basic goal in free-flight, which was to fly the mountains every day possible; winter, spring, summer, autumn, over and over again. Initiating that simple goal then has kept my feet off the ground for years and allowed me to experience all kinds of situations, making me hopefully a better and safer pilot. That being said, as this year began I was feeling a bit, well….static. I am not a great pilot, not even a very good one for that matter, so I know the importance in goals of progression. So I set a few goals for this year. Not astronomical goals, but achievable ones relating to things like XC distances, altitudes, site locations, and others that would perhaps encourage me to tiptoe, or even require me to jump head first out of my comfort zone.
The year is now more than half over, and as I reflect on some images of the last few weeks it has caused me to reflect backwards and I see a few things that make me smile. I see awesome new experiences that these goals have made me realize. Moments in the sky where I was pushed to turn deeper into the mountains when I wanted to turn out. Moments when I felt encouraged to keep going, keep circling, keep looking for the next thermal trigger, keep looking up not down, and keep pushing forward. Another thing I see are great friends! Those who push me to fly a little farther, a little higher, and a little safer. Friends who encourage and are so willing to share their knowledge, enthusiasm, and paralleled passion for this sport. These close friends make the whole adventure of free-flight complete….and we have seen our fair share of adventures through the years.
No, my goals for the year are not yet complete. A few have been realized, but there are still a few left to be tamed. As I look forward to the next 4.1/2 months I am excited for the adventures that await. I look forward to spending time with friends who will continue to push and inspire me. I can only hope that along the way I too can provide some encouragement, some advice, some inspiration to others in their quest for success.
We all have our own goals and desires in life, whether in the realm of flying or beyond. I encourage each of us to keep setting new goals, moving forward, keep looking up instead of down and perhaps tip toe into the sky of our dreams. See you in the sky!!