I lived in San Francisco for eight years and recently went back for a quick visit. That weekend, I decided to do something I had never done before. I biked from the Ferry Building, across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. It was a perfect, not too hot and not too cold, clear, blue-sky day. Absolutely stunning, spectacular views all around.
I enjoyed the ride. Cruising through downtown. Loosening the gears and pedaling up a quintessential San Francisco hill. Coasting along the bridge, knowing that we were almost there.
But as I was cycling towards my goal, I occasionally stopped and realized that I was spending most of my time staring at the ground beneath me.
Have you ever done that? On a walk or a hike? Doesn’t matter if you are hiking along the Cinque Terre coastline in the Italian Riviera. You have a goal in mind and you walk, walk, walk, trekking to the finish line. You end up staring, sometimes for hours on end, at the dirt below.
I compare it to working towards any goal. You are focused on the task at hand, and you keep your “head down.” Sometimes it’s beneficial, important, even essential to keep your head down. But sometimes it’s good to look up. On my bike ride, I looked up and was flooded with memories of some of the most pivotal times in my life: working downtown in Embarcadero 4, pounding out b-school essays in my apartment in the Marina, my first date with my now-husband in North Beach, strolling my newborn son in Russian Hill and of course, countless watering holes and party sites in every corner of the city.
My mind started to wander and fill with ideas. I noticed the people and sites. I thought about this very post that I am writing now. I was inspired. When I looked up and soaked in the incredible landscape and views, I started to really enjoy the process of getting there.
The new year is upon us. Many of us will set resolutions. Including me – I love resolutions and goals! We will settle in on January 1 and start plugging away with determination at whatever it is that drives us. And that’s a great thing: to work passionately and furiously towards things that we value. But as you embark on this new journey, don’t forget to look up, be inspired and enjoy the ride. You might see things you have never seen before or view things in a different light. If you consistently keep your head down and simply follow your preconceived map, you might miss a detour that leads to something even more spectacular. You might miss out on all the fun.
Happy New Year and look up in 2018.