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One of the best things in life for me personally is the ongoing opportunity to explore and share the natural wonders of our one home earth planet with fellow travelers and adventurers.

Some of the hikes I am about to share have been favorites for years, but others I have come to know and love more recently through friends and colleagues who have in turn shared some of their favorite trails.

Please always remember, though, that hiking is definitely a proceed at your own risk type of activity. Consider your current health and fitness level, as well as your physical challenges and limitations, and be forthright with others in your hiking party.

Check on local weather and trail conditions, and check in with the land agency managing the place where you are considering hiking, too. Bring a first aid kit, be prepared, and most importantly, be flexible and willing to forgo or change your plans based on what unfolds on your hiking adventure. Thanks for also practicing Leave No Trace Principles-in sum, leave only footprints, and take only pictures.

Here are a few selected national parks and hiking trails to consider to get you started:

In Yellowstone National Park:

Beaver Ponds Loop Trail near Mammoth Hot Springs is a five-mile meander that takes you through a variety of habitats and a proliferation of wildflowers during the warmer months. This trail is best done early in the day, or in very late afternoon once it’s started to cool down. You can also hike to the Beaver Ponds and then return the same route if you end up hiking mid-day, as that way you will have more shade on your return hike as compared to hiking through open meadows with very little shade if you were to do the complete 5-mile loop. This is a classic “Northern Range” Yellowstone hike with good opportunity to see lots of wildlife, including bears, so be very bear aware of course!

Storm Point Trail east of Fishing Bridge is a wonderful, fairly flat three-mile loop leading you to well named Storm Point overlooking Yellowstone Lake, which is the largest high elevation lake in the U.S. From the actual Storm Point you can look across (on a clear day) to the Red Mountains to the south, to the Absaroka Range to the west, and on super clear days you can even see the Teton Range from here. Marmots are busy hanging out on sunny rocks during the summer months, and hikers often see bison. ground squirrels, rabbits and lots of waterfowl. If you’re looking for a short hike by Yellowstone Lake with a real wilderness feel, this might be a good fit for you!

In Grand Teton National Park:

The Phelps Lake Trail is a beauty and is about a three-mile loop altogether. Consider getting dropped off at the Laurance S.Rockefeller Preserve to get started, as the parking lot here is small and often fills up by late morning. You can increase your distance about a mile by following the trail around Phelps Lake, which is often a very nice temperature to swim in during the hotter summer months of July and August. When the timing is right, there may even be huckleberries to pick and savor! The Rockefeller Preserve is about 4 1/2 miles north of Teton Village..

The Bradley and Taggart Lakes Trails offer options for doing loop hikes totaling about four miles in either direction. If you decide to visit Taggart Lake itself, you’ll be adding another mile to your itinerary, but it is also a gorgeous lake and well worth the effort. The trailhead for these two hikes is about 2 1/2 miles north of the Moose Visitor Center.

In Glacier National Park:

Near Logan Pass, two awesome hikes include the Highline Trail on the north side of the road, and the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail on the south side.

The Highline Trail climbs steadily in elevation and is a fairly narrow trail at times. There are steep drop-offs in places so if heights are an issue for you, consider taking the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail instead. Nonetheless, the Highline Trail gives you a more immediate and palpable sense of what Glacier’s backcountry feels like as it’s not as crowded as the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail. The views along the Highline Trail are rewarding and expansive in all directions, but if this is your first time on this particular trail, I’d highly recommend just going in a mile or two then returning to the trailhead the same way you came from (back to Logan Pass and the Visitor Center there).

The Hidden Lake Overview Trail is one of the most amazingly beautiful short hikes you could ever do in the Lower 48 U.S. states, but because of this you might be sharing the trail with quite a few nature lovers. It’s about 1 1/2 miles each way to the overlook, and about a 500 foot elevation gain to boot. If you want to continue down to Hidden Lake, add another three miles to your total trek, plus about an 800 foot elevation drop and then gain as you head hack to the overlook. Regardless of how far you travel, you’ll be rewarded by stunning views. Maybe some bighorn sheep and/or mountain goats might be grazing nearly, marmot chirps and cries will echo off canyon walls, and amazing summer wildflowers will bless your path. Please, though, do not feed any of the begging rodents that may approach you on this trail.

Both the Highline and the Hidden Lake Overview trails are close by the Logan Pass Visitor Center on Going-to-the-Sun Highway in Glacier National Park. I highly recommend taking the free Glacier National Park shuttle buses once you have paid admission to visit the park. That way you’ll miss out on combat parking in the small parking lots and have more time to enjoy all of Glacier in its glory, as the buses make frequent drop-offs and pick-ups at the Logan Visitor Center and other popular park locations.

YOU CAN ALSO GET MORE INFO HERE:

Yellowstone National Park:

http://www.nps.gov/yell

Grand Teton National Park:

http://www.nps.gov/grte

Glacier National Park:

http://www.nps.gov/glac

P.S. I’d love to hear what are some of your favorite hiking trails in these or other national parks, and also receive feedback after the fact if you decide to hike any of these suggested trails. Thanks! As the weather cools somewhat I’ll suggest some hikes in other national parks.

 

When you have little to no contact with nature on its own terms, with wild nature, it’s quite easy to get yourself into trouble. Carnage, injuries, and even death can follow as a result. GPS devices, smart and mobile phones, and all the technological gear you have at hand may not be enough to save your ass or get help when you most need it.

You can also be incredibly experienced and familiar with wild places, and end up that same proverbial creek without a paddle. None of us escapes from having lapses in judgment in life-sometimes we survive them; sometimes we don’t.

Whether we live in large cities, sprawling suburban areas, or rural places closer to wild places, it’s nearly universally rewarding to have spent time in nature, then arrive safely back home elated and re-charged, eager to share stories from our most recent adventures.
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This summer, though, far too many adventurers to the world’s first national park, Yellowstone, have already experienced tragedy and death in the wild..

A few weeks ago Yellowstone had its first thermal feature death in nearly 16 years after a young man wandered off trail with his sister in the Norris Geyser Basin area. Since 1890 there have been at least 22 such deaths in the park, and the two-volume book series, Death In Yellowstone by Lee Whittlesey, continues to educate and warn readers of the myriad unforgiving perils that accompany the remarkable beauty and wildness of this majestic place. No amount of signage, guard rails, or messaging will ever eradicate the real possibility that the park can kill, still.

There were 4,100,000 visitors to Yellowstone in 2015, and current trends indicate that that number may be surpassed this year as well. Since April 2016, at least two other people have experienced thermal burns in the park. In another incident, a Canadian film crew, operating without a commercial permit, deliberately walked and filmed being illegally off trail on fragile crust overlying near-boiling temperature waters near Grand Prismatic Spring.

Well-intentioned visitors removed a lone bison calf from the wild and placed it in their car, concerned about its fate. Later, park officials had to euthanize the calf., as it was no longer accepted by other bison due to being handled by humans. Outside the park, a similar incident occurred when people happened upon a newborn pronghorn antelope..

It’s hard to restrain ourselves when we see a young and apparently helpless animal. We’re used to exciting rescues, miraculous reunions, and happy endings in the media, but nature plays no favorites. Visiting a national park and other wild places begs for more restraint than we may be used to exercising at home. It also begs for being more thoughtful and prepared, and for being more kind and considerate to others who live and visit there, resident wildlife included..

It’s akin to spending time in another culture or country. Before we visit, it’s wise to learn about the customs, manners. nuances and challenges that may be different there than they are at home. National parks and other wild settings are some of the last places where animals such as grizzly bears and wolves can still roam, make a living, and call home. In many ways, we are visiting someone else’s home.

Indeed, despite your own advance preparations, or after having read up on park rules and regulations, you may still see others off trail in thermal areas, or crowding an adult bison (which is always a bad idea) to get a better photo. In another sad incident this spring, someone was struck by a car as she tried to cross the road between Madison and West Yellowstone, near where bald eagles have historically nested. Videos and selfies were also posted on line of folks posing with their backs to bison (another really bad idea), and others of people getting way too close to elk in the park.

It is heartbreaking to hear of people who are killed or seriously injured in a place they very likely have loved from afar and have wanted to visit for a long time. Accidents can and do happen. But please don’t leave your brain at the gate, or join the crowd doing something that will either result in harm to themselves or others. You’re a long ways from a hospital in any direction, and may need a life flight to get urgent medical care and treatment.

Be prepared, and remember that human drivers are far more dangerous statistically than grizzly bears and bison, both in and outside the park.. Where it gets tricky is when and where to intervene with others, and how to be kind and firm if you decide to do so.

It may be tempting to embarrass, ridicule and rapidly judge people who may be behaving in an unsafe manner, whether that’s in Yellowstone or somewhere else they have come to enjoy and experience the natural world. It takes some diplomacy to let them know it’s unsafe without calling into question their intelligence, but again, we all have lapses in judgment, and the goal is to help that person decide to change their behavior so they no longer endanger themselves or others.

I get it that maybe folks just want to contact a ranger to deal with people doing unsafe things in national parks and other public places. People are understandably fearful of an escalating confrontation, plus with national parks allowing people to have firearms within their boundaries (a really really bad idea) that makes many visitors even less likely to speak out when something is awry.

Just like in the natural world itself, there are no easy answers for how to resolve this challenge. It’s so easy to get in deeper than our own comfort zone, but paradoxically that’s where huge learning, discoveries and breakthroughs often occur, if we survive the moment or experience..

Consider that at one time, there were less than 30 remaining wild bison, period, and where their numbers are today. Consider the phenomenal rebound of wolves in Greater Yellowstone after they were extirpated by the 1930s. Until about 1970, people were feeding bears in Yellowstone, and leaving garbage strewn around to attract them for photo opportunities. Collectively and individually, we’ve changed our mindset and ways of relating to nature over time, and hopefully that will continue to evolve.

It’s also easy to believe that our actions don’t matter or are harmless when visiting wild places, but it’s super sad to see a lone petrified tree encased by an iron fence to keep out souvenir collectors in Yellowstone, or people’s initials carved into bacterial and algae mats in many thermal areas.

Being in a crowd and being fairly anonymous drives some folks to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. For some people, they may genuinely not know that something is harmful, or they may not have read the regulations and rules, or they saw someone else do something and decided to follow suit.

For others, they seem to be suffering from a bad case of “No one can tell me what to do,” “You’re trampling on my freedom to do what I want on government land,” or they loathe government entities entrusted with preserving and protecting lands belonging to all Americans..

The National Park Service’s mission, as stated in the U.S. Organic Act of 1916. reads as follows:

The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park system for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations.

Some generations later, the National Park Service’s Centennial Goal is to
“Connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates.”

The number of park visitors will almost certainly continue to grow, prompting some hard conversations about how we can truly protect places and leave them unimpaired for future generations. Connecting with and growing the next generation of park supporters and advocates is also crucial.

That hinges on simultaneously educating people that their actions and inactions do make a difference in the integrity and future of wild places, no matter where their feet are, whether you actually and physically visit a place, or are enjoying and exploring it from afar.

Wild places can be great teachers. Yet they also command respect, restraint and humility, as an excerpt from a 1970 Billings Gazette editorial stressed following the death of a park visitor to Yellowstone that year:

Death is a frequent visitor in raw nature. And Yellowstone National Park, despite the cabins and roads, is raw nature. The Park is the untamed and unfenced wildlife and the amoral energy of thermal wonders. It cannot be treated lightly; when it is it erupts in death…The park is not Disneyland, Rocky Mountain version. Nor is it a zoo with moats and fences separating the wild and the domesticated. For all the trappings of men, it is wilderness. And the man who fails to accept it as such dies.

Travel safely, and travel well this summer!

 

On the back cover of a free tourist magazine for Guanacaste Province in Costa Rica, there’s an advertisement promoting the nation that features a photo of a hummingbird perched on a branch. The tagline reads “A Small Country With A Huge Vision”.

Following the tagline, the ad reads:

This hummingbird lives in a country where nature surrounds you,
where educated people choose peace over conflict,
where quality products are made and shared,
and where talent, innovation and dreams abound.

Costa Rica is an amazingly blessed place. Following a bloody civil war in 1948, it abolished its military. One of the most striking reminders of this is an unnamed work of art in a courtyard outside the Costa Rican Art Museum in San Jose. Old rifles lay partially buried in concrete. exposed to the elements, leaving their meaning and significance open to interpretation by the visitor.

Certainly Costa Rica is not without conflict. Tensions and vigorous debates persist over further development of the nation’s natural resources, creating truly renewable energy options in the face of global climate change, preserving and protecting the nation’s amazing natural biodiversity, and providing for the needs of current and future generations of “ticos” (the nickname Costa Ricans use to describe themselves).

But what really struck me was how generally happy, upbeat and positive ticos were, and this was highly infectious I felt an upwelling of tremendous peace and contentment while traveling together with Erik in this small nation with a mighty heart.  I felt a huge release of sorrow and sadness about my mom’s passing last October meld into the heavy tropical rains that fell one afternoon and evening at our jungle lodge on the Pacuare River.

That same afternoon, I awoke from a deep sleep, then climbed into a small private pool adjoining our cabina that overlooked the jungle and the roaring river below. Toucans flitted by, and small lizards scurried across the deck. Huge blue morpho butterflies flitted throughout the canopy, and howler monkeys boomed in the distance.

The pool was not chlorinated, thankfully. The water, sourced from the hills above and later repurposed for other needs at this remote setting, was a nice, refreshing 70 degrees or so, in contrast to the muggy air temperature and high humidity accompanying the heavy rains.

I plunged in, re-surfaced, opened my eyes and looked out at a revitalized world full of promise, potential and possibility. We all came from and come from here, it seemed. It was great to return, to feel at home in a place where all things came and belonged together.

“Welcome home!” the jungle seemed to speak to me. Even now, at home in Montana, I can envision and sense that same deep sense of peace and belonging.

Welcome home.

In a 1970’s song by America, “A Horse With No Name,” the lead singer describes the desert as an ocean with its life underground, and it’s an apt metaphor for better understanding, exploring and living in this type of environment.

So how do most organisms and other beings manage to live and thrive in the desert, where rain and snowfall are scarce, and in some years no precipitation may fall at all?

Nighttime is the big time to be active, it seems. Kangaroo rats come out of their daytime hiding places to eat, and kit foxes, coyotes and sidewinder rattlesnakes all come out as well. Yucca moths pollinate Joshua Trees, bats and owls zoom across brilliantly clear night skies in search of sustenance.

It’s vital to be resourceful, and adaptive. Some plants lose their leaves entirely during dry spells and regain them after it rains. Other plants have tough, stubby leaves that retain whatever moisture that falls; some in turn have leaves growing at angles that minimize their exposure to the intensity of direct desert sun.

Make the most of what nature and life bring you.  The desert tortoise can go up to one year without drinking water. Somehow, they can sense rain coming before we humans do. Tortoises have been observed digging shallow holes or pits where they lie and wallow and welcome rain when it comes.

Have a back-up plan and more than one option on your plate. In Joshua Tree National Park recently, we learned about the strategies of the cactus wren when it came to nesting in desert environments. We observed unoccupied nests these wrens had created in thorny clumps of cacti to distract predatory snakes hunting for their eggs (and at times, their fledgling newborn). Somehow these birds have learned it’s best to have a few decoy nests to distract those whose plans and goals are different than your own.

Be ready and able to capitalize quickly on what life gives you. So true, whether you are in the desert, or wherever your feet may be. Desert wildflower seeds may lie in the soil for a century, waiting for optimum conditions to flourish. Too much heavy rain or snow all at once doesn’t create such conditions. Instead, gentle, steady rains are the key to what may unfold in the spring here. It’s incredible that something so gorgeous and so fleeting has perhaps been 100 years in the making, such as the extensive ocean of desert gold flowers carpeting the floor of Death Valley nearly a month ago

Be humble, and know that you are not the only one out there trying to thrive and make a living.

The desert highlights the need for healthier interdependence between human-impacted versus our wilder neighboring environments. A desert garbage dump for L.A., for example, would attract ravens, which prey upon younger desert tortoises that haven’t developed their tougher adult shells. These endangered reptiles have enough challenges already to survive and thrive and a garbage dump may very well be the tipping point toward their extinction.

Another example-it makes sense for desert locations to be considered for solar and wind power projects, but location is everything. It’s better to site such projects in areas already disturbed by human activity, but not always. We have to consider other factors, such as where bighorn sheep travel over time in search of water, food, or seasonal habitat, or where desert pronghorn migration routes may still best have a chance for their long-term survival as a species.

In the end, it’s amazing that the desert country of southern California, southwestern Nevada, and Arizona is perhaps the most intact and functioning healthy desert environment we have left on the planet. Not bad for a region with over 20 million folks living in southern California, a few million people living in Las Vegas, and perhaps another five million in Phoenix alone.

It’s a vast, often quiet and unforgiving desert surrounded by an ocean of humanity that many only hurry through to get on with their busy lives. Yet it showers those who bravely venture here with its wild, unmanufactured wisdom, helping us thrive in the so-called “real world” as well.

Birdsong erupts in an awakening land
Osprey’s return is now at hand.

An elk herd gathers on a steep greening hill
Clouds drift above, the air quite still.

In higher mountains
where snow piles up deep
grizzlies and black bears emerge from their sleep.

Down by the river
a drift boat flows past
Fishermen shout as a trout strikes their cast.

Not far from the city a meadowlark sings,
bluebirds and robins, and others take wing.

Sagebrush buttercup blooms close to the earth
Marking renewal, a time of rebirth.

Energy abounds as we all shout and sing
Goodbye Old Man Winter, and welcome back spring!

Late winter in the northern hemisphere harkens a time of quickening, rapid growth and change no matter where you look. Robins, English sparrows, northern flickers and black-capped chickadees are once again bustling with activity, crocuses and other early blooming flowers are adding color to the slowly greening landscape, and overnight snows melt quickly into the earth, feeding natural rhythms and cycles that have nurtured earth and its inhabitants for eons.

Of course, human-driven forces and processes have also been around for a long while, too. Tensions between “developed” and “developing” nations, as well as between large predators and agricultural and ranching communities immediately come to mind. Add to that the seemingly never-ending struggle of preserving and conserving natural resources versus their extraction on publicly held lands, or on lands of often already displaced people with little to no political clout or voice, and you’ve got a maddening mix of competing forces and interests which never seems to abate.

Sometimes dramatic progress is made, such as this past December, when over 190 nations meeting in Paris committed to reduce carbon and other emissions in response to rapid climate change. Sometimes, it seems that when we look around, we are smacked by setbacks, which has been the case around here in Big Sky Country as of late.

In early March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed delisting the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (G.Y.E.) as a recovered species. Thus management of grizzlies could soon be handed over to the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, six different U.S. national forests (responding to three different regional headquarters), other federal and state land agencies, and a patchwork of private lands, replete with conflicting missions, goals and attitudes toward legally hunting and otherwise managing grizzlies within their respective boundaries..

This could happen by 2017 if not sooner, and while grizzly numbers have indeed rebounded over the past 40 years in the region, Greater Yellowstone remains an island ecosystem whose natural integrity is being threatened on multiple fronts. Continuing to manage this iconic, often maligned animal on an ecosystem-wide basis would be the wise thing to do, for when you remove grizzlies from their legal protections, it makes it easier for other forces to impact the long-term health and viability of their diminishing habitat, and of all other species that dwell there, too.

Greater Yellowstone is indeed a wild island 200 miles distant and disconnected from other grizzly bear strongholds such as the Bob Marshall-Great Bear-Scapegoat wilderness areas and Glacier National Park., where grizzlies will continue to receive protection under The Endangered Species Act. Delisted G.Y.E. grizzlies will be hard pressed to successfully disperse in search of new habitat, to adapt to conditions impacted by climate change, to respond to shortages of critical foods, and avoid conflicts in a human-dominated landscape as they do so.

The G.Y.E. bears, once delisted, would also have less genetic variability and resilience as they become more isolated from their better protected brethren farther north and west in Montana.. Montana U.S. Senator Steve Daines doesn’t think the delisting of grizzlies should stop with the Greater Yellowstone population-he advocates delisting of grizzlies throughout their range in the Northern Rockies. He neglects to mention that if this were to happen, public lands without protections for grizzlies or wilderness designation equals a green light for increased habitat fragmentation and motorized use, and for extractive industry to operate and profit in these untrammeled places..

Fortunately, within national parks such as Yellowstone and Grand Teton, grizzlies will continue to remain protected and not hunted, even if G.Y.E. grizzly bear delisting were to happen. The National Park Service continues to support the big picture here of connectivity, The N.P.S. Yellowstone National Park website states that “Efforts to reduce conflicts with people and preserve habitat for dispersal, and eventually, connecting with other populations outside of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will be essential for future restoration.”*

By protecting areas large and contiguous enough to support grizzlies, we also support healthy watersheds, clean air, and an incredibly wild and attractive place for people to live near by and to recreate in. This also causes problems, as folks in Greater Yellowstone can attest to. The same week that G.Y.E. grizzlies were proposed for de-listing, a malfunctioning pipe at the Yellowstone Club in the Big Sky Sewer District spilled 35 million gallons of sewage water into the south branch of the West Fork of the Gallatin River.

The effluent wastewater was deemed to not be a significant threat to human health, but what about to its fragile blue-ribbon fisheries, and the integrity of the watershed? What about to farming and ranching communities downstream? Big Sky and the Yellowstone Club are not incorporated towns or cities where everyday citizens have a voice. You have to be a member of their homeowners’ association(s) in order to have one.

Shoddy construction practices, minimal oversight and private gain seem to dominate the environment there, yet everyone downstream ultimately pays the price when human-caused shit storms happen. Flint, Michigan comes to mind as well. Short-sighted short cuts serve no one.

These developments and setbacks remind me not to be naïve, not to take things at face value and assume that things will always be alright for grizzly bears, the wild lands that sustain them, and us. They remind me to be vigilant, to advocate for something that is bigger than all of us individually. They remind me that we are all connected to a larger life and to the lives of future generations, and that through greater honesty and transparency, we can transform the rampant complacency, apathy and cynicism found throughout the world.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” I refuse to be silent. My passion for nature and the wild sparks something in me that makes me a fierce and relentless advocate on their behalf.  It’s vital for all of us to use our voice for something we are passionate about. Raise your voice, refuse to be silent. Your voice matters. We all matter.

 
*SOURCE OF GRIZZLY BEAR QUOTE www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/bearesa.htm


While walking home from the University of Montana campus a few weeks ago, I noticed someone hunched over, walking very deliberately, listening intently to someone he was conversing with via his mobile phone. A few moments later, he arched his back and let out an audible sigh, telling the other person “You don’t have to make perfect choices. Just make good ones.”

I love that.

You don’t have to make perfect choices. Just make good ones.

Make choices that are good for you and for your own self care, your own life journey. From that place, that inner personal compass you can also take better care of others in your family, in your workplace, and in your community.

But how the hell do you really do that?

First, get into the practice of being still and listening to your heart. Tune in to a decision you are about to make and really feel the options you are considering.Does a choice feel open, expansive and full of energy? Does it light you up, or deflate you? Does it excite you more than it scares you?

One area where many people trip themselves up is over choices they have already made in life, and feeling conflicted and fatalistic about how this may play into their present and future

After my Mom died this past October, I wallowed and dwelled in a lot of “what if’s” and other second guessing about our relationship and the occasional rocky times that we had. About three months later, I realized we had both made the best choices we could have made, and that there was nothing I could do now to go back and fix anything. Nor could my Mom.

It is what it is, a friend of mine in Bozeman likes to say. Let it go and move on. Be kind to yourself. Deep in your heart, forgive yourself and others. Wish others happiness and self-forgiveness, see and believe in the best in yourself and others. To paraphrase a quote I came across some years ago, keep only the love and the lessons learned, and apply those lessons learned in the present.
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Making good present and future choices can be just as tricky We all seem to take turns looking back at some of our decisions later, and wonder “What the hell was I thinking?” at times, but know that this is part of living and learning for everyone.The Japanese expression wabi-sabi comes to mind, meaning that in nature and in life, everything is perfectly imperfect.

Procrastinating, and postponing making choices, can contribute to our downfall as well. When we do this, we often still end up making hasty decisions and creating consequences that require considerable clean-up if we are not mindful. Give yourself contemplative time to make a choice that is good for you, and take time to define what good  really means to you Then take action and commit to that course of action. The universe loves it when we are consistent and decisive, and not wishy-washy.

People-pleasing is another contributor to making not-so-good choices. Are you doing something in order to not disappoint someone else or to be in their favor? Because you find it hard to say no to others, or yes to yourself? As someone recently asked in a business workshop, “Are these people going to pay your bills?”  Do a gut check when things get murky or feel conflicted, and decide if what others would like you to do is what you would really like to do, or not.

Here are a few more suggestions to help out when you’re feeling conflicted and stuck while considering different choices:

1.) Be conscious of your needs and desires, your core values, and what you really want to experience in life.

2.) Don’t say yes just to get along or go along.

3.) You can make course corrections at any time if you’re brave and honest enough to acknowledge what’s not working, but give yourself time to learn whether something’s working (or not working) rather than yanking the proverbial seedling out of the flower pot to see how things are going.

Perfectionism can be a formidable stumbling block to making good choices. A close friend and fellow entrepreneur is a self-described “recovering perfectionist.” She loved doing lots of research on topics and weighing their pros and cons before making still agonizing decisions. Eventually, she realized that this was also procrastinating, and getting in the way of moving her business forward. Now that she realizes this pattern and can catch herself way sooner when she slips into this mode, she’s more consistently making better choices that help her be more effective at work, and have more time to enjoy her non-working life, too!

Pessimism is yet another potential foe to making good choices. One example is believing stories others or you have created about yourself in the past and allowing them to influence future outcomes. This could range from “I’ve always sucked at math” to “No one in my family has ever been successful going it alone in business” to “it’s too late, I’m too old, I’m not deserving, or I’ll never have enough money to do X.”  Or it could come in the form of waiting or delaying something, like “only after I retire/the kids are out of the house could I ever do Y.”

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t-you’re right.”

Perhaps pessimism is the most challenging obstacle of all in making good, and better choices in our lives, yet mastering this tendency doesn’t magically change overnight. It’s like developing any new habit or set of muscles. It takes time, commitment,  and a renewed, can-do mindset. It requires you to dig deep and find evidence that in the past you have made some good choices that fuel you into making more good ones in the present. We may fail at times, but we are never a failure if we try, and if we get back up and try again. And again. And again.

We’re only human.

We are all wabi sabi.

We’re not meant to live our lives in a vacuum thinking that our choices don’t matter, or that they don’t impact other people. We have to have thicker skin, and move beyond fear and analysis paralysis to taking courageous action. We have to do the dance of being unattached to outcomes,  how things unfold, or how things may appear as they unfold.

Somewhere out there, someone else is looking for inspiration and evidence that they, too, can do what they dream of doing. Sometimes, even when we think we are not making any progress at all, someone else notices and reminds us how far we’ve come and changed, and we in turn are inspired to keep going and growing.

Choose to keep going, no matter what  Refuse to believe that your best days are behind you.

As Winston Churchill once said,

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

P.S. I’d love to hear how this article resonated with you. Feel free to email me at harehobie at gmail dot com and let me know. A book that deals with resistance and making good choices that I highly recommend is The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield.

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