How to Lead a More Satisfying Life

November 2011

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in recent years is that the bigger the challenge is, the more satisfied I feel when I succeed.

It’s tempting to take the easy route, and you can get further in the same time when you take the easier path, but that’s not the same as always ‘taking it easy’.

You see, when you make things easier for yourself you can actually get further and achieve more, but when I set myself a challenge these days I like it to be one that will stretch me.

That’s why when we set off to cycle from Paris to Venice last year we didn’t take the shortest route with the fewest hills. Just getting from A to B would have been relatively easy. Had we chosen an easy route, following the reasoning above, we would have wanted to go further, just to make it a worthwhile test.

But we had reasons for choosing Paris to Venice so, to make it a big enough test – ie, one we might fail – we included three mountain ranges, carried all our own kit and took a meandering route that required us to cover between 60 and 70 miles per day.

That made it a test we could easily fail – not one we could easily pass.

And that made it a real test, not an easy ride.

However, it’s also true that anything you set out to do and manage to achieve is worthwhile, and you’re entitled to feel proud of every success, so how can we square that fact with what I’ve just said?

Well, our trip took fourteen days. Each day was its own test. In fact, every hill and mountain was its own test, and that’s true of real life, too.

While our long term target was Venice, our medium term aim every morning was reaching that day’s destination before dark and our short term target was the top of the next hill. Sometimes it was just the next hairpin on the current hill. The tougher the test the shorter the focus became.

So don’t be afraid of big goals in your life. When you eventually reach your destination you’ll be a lot more satisfied if you’ve tested yourself en route, even if you only did it one day at a time.