How My Friend Achieved His Lifelong Dream

This summer I hiked 220 miles over 23 nights on the John Muir Trail. It runs all the way from Yosemite National Park to Mount Whitney near LA. 23 days out in the middle of nowhere.

It was my friend Matt’s dream. He’s a hiker, he’s a backpacker, he’s an Eagle Scout. He sells hiking gear online. He sells boots and backpacks and tents and sleeping bags. And he told me “Tito, my dream is to hike the John Muir Trail. I’ve thought about it for years. I want to make it happen before I go off to school. Before I start a family. Before I start a business. Before I buy a house. I want to make this dream happen now.”

Hiking the John Muir Trail is a big dream. I’ve talked to a lot of people who say “I’m planning to go, once I graduate”, or “That’s on my bucket list, once I retire”. People really want to hike this trail.

But it was never my dream. At all. I had no interest in hiking, hiking gear, spending lots of money to be out in a bunch of trees and dirt. Even spending a weekend outdoors sounds kind of boring.

But I said “yes”. And everything changed.

You know, hiking isn’t boring. On the first day, we’re hitting our first mountain, and we’re climbing up, and lightning is flashing in the background. Matt tells me that “the top of a mountain is the most dangerous place during a lightning storm”. And as we get to the top, I look around for the first time and there’s 3 fires caused by the lightning that are burning up the forest around us. After all the worry with the lightning, it doesn’t even matter! We take a bunch of photos, head down the mountain away from the fires.

I’m not some amazing hiker now. It’s not my true passion. What changed was my perception of how to accomplish my own dreams.

I’ve learned that 60% of American adults have some big amazing dream that they’re thinking about, and they don’t know why they’re not making progress on their dream. They have it clearly defined in their head. They’ve got a plan. But they’re not getting there and they don’t know why. That’s how I felt about my own dreams, about my own sense of accomplishment. How good could I be if I can’t make progress on my dreams?

What I’ve learned is that by helping my friend with his dream, I discovered my own sense of accomplishment, my sense of self, my sense of confidence. I’m even thinking of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, which is a 6 month hike. 6 months, that’s an incredible change for a guy who had no interest in the outdoors.

So help a friend of yours with their dream.

It’s easy. You pull out your iPhone, pull up your Favorites list, and you call the person at the bottom of the list. You say “Hey, what have you always dreamed of doing, but you’ve never done?”.

Maybe it’s a hike. Maybe it’s meeting Taylor Swift. Maybe it’s spending a month in Hong Kong, Paris, or Cairo. You can make a plan and and make it happen in the next year.

And after that year, your friend will have accomplished their dream, and you’ll have this massive self confidence in your abilities, and surprise that your dreams can change. That you can help other people achieve their dreams means you can help yourself accomplish your dreams. So call up your friend and ask them “What have you always dreamed of doing, but you’ve never done?”

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Tito Jankowski lives in San Francisco. He's a public speaker, biotech hacker, and post-hydrocarbon expert. He is the co-founder of Impossible Labs, expediting the post-hydrocarbon economy through partnerships between startups and Fortune 500 corporations. Find him on LinkedIn. Email Tito at blog@titojankowski.comPublic PGP key. PGP Fingerprint: 5A4F 4C5C E8B7 20C3 2867 9100 C56C 881F 13AE 02D7 EFF Guide to PGP Security

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