The Audacious Goal
If I asked you “Would you walk from New York to Los Angeles for 1 million dollars,” here’s what would probably happen: A picture would form in your mind, maybe of the Manhattan skyline, the Santa Monica Pier, and long expanses of highway in the desert or in rural America. Maybe you’d picture a map of the continental United States. Maybe you’d imagine yourself physically walking on the side of a long road with some sort of backpack slung over your shoulder.
Then you’d probably work through questions like, “How do I begin? How long would I have to finish? Would I be allowed to take breaks? Where would I sleep? What would I eat? Would I have to quit my job or leave my family? What route would I even take?”
If I stayed silent and let you run wild with your thoughts, you’d consider it a bit more and probably come to the conclusion that as good of a deal as it sounds in principle, in practice it just doesn’t sound realistic—the exhaustion, the uncertainty, the time-commitment, your friends, family, job, social life. You imagine the huge hassle it would be to achieve this audacious goal, to take this seemingly insurmountable journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
What if I then told you that you could take as much time as you needed, you could keep your current life, see your friends and family every day, shower in your own bathroom, and could even sleep in your own bed every night, magically waking up the next morning at the exact spot you left off at the day before?
Suspending some form of disbelief here, what if I now asked you “How long do you think it would take?”
Breaking it Down Into Milestones
A quick Google search would show you that the distance is approximately 2,790 miles from New York City to LA. Perhaps you’d then search for how fast the average person walks and learn it’s about 3 to 4 miles per hour. To provide some context, maybe you’d even go so far as to search for how much TV the average person watches and learn it to be more than 4 hours per day.
Willing to give up an hour of Netflix each day and rounding down to a walking pace of 3 miles per hour (because, hey, you’re not in the same shape you were at 22), you do some quick math and determine that at 3 miles per day, it would take you 930 days to walk from NYC to LA, and dividing that by the 365 days in a year, you figure it would take you just over 2.5 years to make the trip.
(Remember this assumes that you’re not disrupting your life at all, sleeping in your own bed every night and magically starting each day’s journey from the exact spot you left off in the day before.)
With all that in mind, I ask you again, “Would you walk from New York to Los Angeles for $1 Million?” I suspect that your response might now be a little different. You’d probably now think more about these smaller daily milestones than the big, hairy, audacious goal and say “F*ck it! Why not?! I’m in.”
Now that you’re in agreement, I throw a curveball in your direction. There’s a catch. You’ve got to plan the route yourself. You’ve got your laptop, you’ve got Google, you can scour the web for all the info you need, but you need to pull the pieces of the route together yourself. Would you still do it?
Of course, you would! You Google sh*t all day every day. You’re glued to your phone and your laptop. It may be a little bit of work to plan the route, but you’re already allocating an hour per day to physically walk, so what’s an extra few hours up front to plan the route first?
Your Own Audacious Goals
OK. Enough fantasies. What am I getting at?
When people feel a momentary burst of inspiration and wonder to themselves “Could I launch a side hustle?” or “Would I buy a rental property?” as with the above example, similar responses typically follow: “How do I begin? How long would it take? Would I have to quit my job? Would I have to give up my life? What route do I take?”
The tough questions stemming from these audacious goals lead most of us to simply flip on the TV, pop open TikTok, or log into Call of Duty.
Instead of all of that, if we take a deep breath and break down our lofty goals and tough questions into bite-sized chunks, we begin to find clarity. The impossible problem starts to become manageable.
Taking on a side hustle or buying rental properties isn’t all that different… With 1 hour a day for 2 to 3 years, imagine how far you could go.
Walking for an hour a day over a period of 2.5 years doesn’t feel that hard at all and seems like a no-brainer for a big pay day.
What happens if halfway into it, we find another route that might add another few months of walking, but doubles our payout at the end? Well, we’re already moving, so why not?
What happens if we get to LA and find out that the $1MM prize is actually in San Francisco instead? Well, we wouldn’t have learned that if we hadn’t made the commitment to head out west in the first place.
That’s just it. We’ve got to start walking or we’ll never find these answers.
We all waste time on things that don’t ultimately bring us the joy that we hope. If we set aside even a fraction of that time to start walking from New York to LA for a huge win, we’d all be better off.
All it takes is breaking down our audacious goals into easily achievable milestones to make sure that we stay motivated and see real progress.
So, what’s next?
Pop open Google, set an audacious goal, plan your route, and start walking. I’ll join you for a cold one on the West Coast. See you there.
“The arc of your life bends in the direction of your habits.” –Atomic Habits, author James Clear