It’s exhilarating to think about big goals and empowering to reach them. The best rewards from pursuing big goals do not usually happen during some glorious moment when standing in the sunshine. The most significant rewards come as you’re climbing toward your big goal. From my 37 years of climbing high mountains (including Mount Everest) here are some hard-won lessons about climbing toward big goals.


1. Scare Yourself

If you want to improve your life, make your mark, and uplift others along the way, you need to pick a goal big enough to scare you. If thinking about your big goal makes you excited and nervous at the same time, it’s big enough to improve your life. Another sign that your goal is sufficiently large is that it’s hard to imagine all the positive things that might occur as a result of reaching your goal. Modest goals serve as helpful milestones which encourage you to keep striving and growing. So, modest goals are good and necessary stepping stones toward your BIG goal. But, if your goal does not scare you some, then you’re thinking too small.

2. Become More

Your big goal should demand that you become more than you are now – more than you’ve ever been, more than you’ve ever done. If you can comfortably walk 6 miles per week, then having a goal of walking 8 miles in a week is a nice little increase, but it’s not going to turn you into something more, now is it? A walking goal of 16 miles per week, or maybe even peaking at 26 miles per week – that can change your life for the better. Make sure your goal forces you to do more, to become more.

3. Maintain Momentum

Every substantial journey will include setbacks, slowdowns, and side trips that could pull you away from reaching your big goal. Be aware of those distractions, try to minimize them, but do not fret about them. By always maintaining momentum toward your big goal, those inconveniences will become minimized, and almost meaningless by the time you near your lofty aspiration.

4. Big Goals Pay Rewards, Even if You Don’t Reach Them

Yes, that’s right. Even if you do not reach your goal, you will get most of the rewards, just by trying hard. The process of climbing toward your big goal will take you farther than ever, enable you to become more than ever before and show you how to overcome bigger obstacles than you ever thought possible.

 To re-visit the walking goal example, if you aim for 26 miles in a week and some obstacle (say, an injured knee) means you “only” make it to 24 miles, you will still earn almost all the rewards (fitter, trimmer, more self-confidence, etc.). And, with a 24-mile week in your back pocket, reaching a 26-mile goal remains just a small step ahead. You can get there soon, or maybe you can even climb toward a bigger goal!



Lofty goals require hard work. To show you that I am walking my talk, here are two major steps that I recently reached in my continuing climb toward higher career goals:

Completed International Writing Retreat

I was pleased (and surprised!) to be invited to attend a writing residency at the renowned Mountain and Wilderness Writing program at Banff, Canada. For three straight weeks, I wrote in this little writing cabin nestled in Banff National Park. I worked with and learned from eight top-notch writers and three veteran editors who excel at wilderness and adventure writing. I have made great progress on my next adventure book, but more work and climbing are ahead. Stand by for updates soon.


Partnered with Executive Speakers Bureau

I am thrilled to now be exclusively represented by Executive Speakers Bureau. They will make it easier for professionals like you to book me for inspirational keynotes and workshops on resilience, leadership, and teamwork. If your team or conference audience could benefit from increasing their resilience for the changes, challenges, and uncertainties ahead, please get in touch with Stephen Kirkpatrick at 901-754-9404 or


Stay resilient for the exciting goals and climbs ahead in 2019!

— Jim Davidson