Resilience: Hike Your Own Hike

“Returning home is the most difficult part of long-distance hiking. You have grown outside the puzzle and your piece no longer fits.” ~ Cindy Ross

The theme for September was resilience. Much of the inspiration for this topic originated from conversations with my son Dave a couple of years ago while he was doing a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. 

For almost eight months, he navigated 2,200 miles from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin in Maine. When we picked him up at, literally, the end of the trail, he stayed with us for about 10 days to decompress and prepare to rejoin civilization. 

During those 10 days, he shared a number of stories about his experience on the AT. As a dad, I had to ask him what lesson he carried away from his time on the trail. 

Without hesitation, he said, “hike your own hike.”

The hike your own hike — or HYOH — lesson was to not get caught up in other hikers’ agendas or drama. Rather focus on your own experience on the trail; pay attention to your own needs.

Hiking the 2,200-mile AT required traveling as light as possible. Hikers didn’t need to carry excess baggage — either physically or emotionally. 


Today’s disruptive times make it imperative to hike your own hike. We certainly don’t need any more baggage. It’s sooo easy to get distracted by the myriad issues affecting our daily lives — concerns about the stability of our jobs, decisions about remote working, homeschooling kids, caretaking of elderly parents, etc., etc.

If we overlay the political and social issues of the day we can become overwhelmed with lots of baggage that will impede our progress.

We need to hike our own hikes. 

That’s not to say we shouldn’t be concerned with what we’re seeing on the daily news. It’s just we need to decide what we’re going to focus on.

HYOH is a lot more difficult in our daily lives and in our careers than it may be on the AT. On the AT hikers navigate a marked path. It’s clear where the trail begins in GA and ends in ME. 

That clarity is not so apparent in today’s disruptive times, especially relative to our careers. The problems are not easily defined, solutions not readily available. The rules that may have been so clear in February, are less clear seven months later. We’re wayfinding through wicked problems. 

In order to HYOH, we need to narrow our focus. Pay attention to the items we can control; those we can impact directly. We need to be clear about goals and not be distracted by issues that don’t directly affect them. 

To HYOH, you must clearly state your goal. On the AT, Dave’s goal was to reach Mt. Katahdin by the first week of October. After that, the weather got dicey. To reach that goal, he had a number of intermittent ones. He had to decide how many miles a day he’d travel. At each re-supply town, he had to decide how much food he could carry to the next stop. He had to factor in weather conditions and tough terrain. And he had to decide how much of others’ issues he’d let distract him.

What’s Non-negotiable?

It’s the same as we find our way through the COVID economy. We need to be clear on our goals — at least for the next few months — and the choices we’re willing to make.

How do you want to end the year?

What’s non-negotiable for you?

What are you unwilling to give up? 

What do you need to focus on to keep on track? 

What do you need to let go of?

How are you hiking your own hike?

Send me an email at and let me know. I’d love to know your thoughts.

A version of this post was recently sent to my email newsletter subscribers. If you’d like to get my best work first, subscribe to the newsletter. I NEVER share your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time if it’s not a good fit.

If you’re struggling with how to achieve your career goals let’s chat about how I can help. You can use this link to my calendar to schedule the best time to talk.

Image copyright: skdesign