The Happiness of Pursuit

Have you ever stopped to wonder what it is that drives some people to achieve incredible goals, while the rest of us just plod along taking life as it comes? There’s nothing wrong with taking life as it comes. Most of us spend the majority of our lives this way, and there is no shame in it. But there is something immensely satisfying and rewarding about setting a goal that seems outlandish at the time, and then following the steps to make it happen.

I’ve been reading The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau, a book sent to me to inspire this post. I’ve always been fascinated with people who do crazy things — like hike the Appalachian Trail or climb Mt. Everest.

HappinessofPursuit

Chris made it his goal to visit every country in the world by the time he was 35 (and he achieved it.)

What is it that drives people to pursue a challenging quest like that?

The answer to that question is what Chris seeks to answer in this, his 3rd book. He ends up interviewing a bunch of people who have done a variety of truly spectacular things and shares their stories with us — their secret motivations, their tricks for leaping the hurdles of time and money, the role played by friends and family, and the importance of writing it all down. I found his book to be a fascinating read.

I don’t expect I will ever set a goal to produce the world’s largest symphony or visit every country in the world, but I can personally attest to the personal satisfaction of completing a half marathon last year.

half marathon

I know, the half marathon is the new black. It seems like everybody has that notch in his or her belt these days. But for me, aside from birthing three children, completing that half-marathon was undoubtedly the most rewarding experience of my entire life.

Not only is it something that I never in a million years thought I would or even COULD do, but to complete that goal, I had to commit to a rigorous training plan that spanned four months of my life. Again, not a huge percentage of my life in the grand scheme, and yet it was all-consuming and is forever etched in my memory as one of the best, hardest, and most fulfilling summers of my life.

Everything I ate and drank, my sleep schedule, my work schedule, everything was focused on that one day in September when I would run 13.1 miles.

Getting up at the crack of dawn to fit in hour-long training runs before my husband left for work.

Running several smaller races throughout the summer to prepare.

Jo-Lynne-Running

Going to bed early so I could be up early, limiting food and drink, diligently getting my water intake so my body was fueled properly.

Pushing myself to run one more mile each weekend on my long runs.

Making time during vacations to keep to my training schedule. (Okay, sometimes that wasn’t such a sacrifice, lol!!!!)

Running on the Beach

Finding new music for my playlist to keep me motivated.

Fitting training runs in around my work and home and family obligations.

Glorious runs, ugly runs, rainy runs, sweaty runs . . . I had them all. And each one moved me one step further towards my goal — quite literally!

It was totally and completely worth it. There is nothing I have experienced in my life (besides birthing my babies) nearly as exhilarating as crossing that finish line on September 15, 2013.

finish-line

I hope to experience that again some day. It may not be another half marathon (I seriously doubt it, given the current state of my feet) but I hate to think of living the rest of my life without experiencing another quest like that one.

Even completing my recent sugar detox, while not nearly as exhilarating as my half-marathon, was incredibly rewarding because it is something I truly thought I could not do. To be free of sugar addiction feels like a huge victory.

I enjoy reading about other people’s quests and discovering their why. It is encouraging and motivating. We humans are capable of amazing things if we put our heart and soul into it because our Creator made us that way.

This is not to suggest that there is no glory in the every day accomplishments. There certainly is. Every mundane task is done to serve my family and my Lord, and not everyone has the luxury of setting crazy goals and setting out to accomplish them. But I daresay we can all find a quest to better ourselves or those around us, whether it is to read the Bible cover to cover… or run a half marathon… or start a non-profit for kids in a 3rd world country… or cook your way through your favorite cookbook… or climb Mt. Everest… YOU get to determine the quest that’s meaningful to you.

That’s the very point Chris is driving home in his book, the happiness of pursuit. If you’re feeling bogged down by routine, find a quest or something to work towards. Challenge yourself. Make your life count.

I’d love to hear about YOUR quest… something you’ve done or you would like to do. Maybe you can inspire someone else to take a leap and do something they’ve always wanted to do!

About the Author: Chris Guillebeau is an entrepreneur, traveler, and New York Times bestselling author. His first two books were The Art of Non-Conformity and The $100 Startup. Recently, he completed his quest to visit every country in the world before the age of 35. Host of the World Domination Summit, an international gathering of creative people, Chris is focused on encouraging individual quests while also “giving back.” His main website, ChrisGuillebeau.com, is visited by more than 500,000 people per month. Visit his official website and follow Chris on TwitterFacebook & Instagram.

Thanks so much to Random House for sponsoring this post. While I was compensated for my participation, all opinions, experiences and victories are mine.