Two years ago, I crossed off a major bucket list item of seeing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. It was not an easy task. It took over 25 years to complete, an incredible amount of time and resources, and – in more recent years – the earnest support of my husband to pick up the slack when I took a few solo adventures (I wrote more about those adventures in a 2019 LinkedIN article).
Seeing the entire country is typically a bucket list item people wait to do until their retirement years, after the kids have left the house and they have unlimited vacation days. It is the sort of thing I would have probably waited to complete too until my 55-year old father died in a car accident a decade ago. That experience made me realize that we have no promise of tomorrow and that every day is an important day to realize your dreams.
In many ways, my 50-state adventure was also a symbolic endeavor to show myself that I could accomplish big things. It was life-affirming and emotional. These trips – sometimes done solo with long periods in a car – also helped me process my grief and gave me the mental breathing room to figure out my life goals. For example, it was a trip to Alaska – after seeing the ongoing impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil spill – that led me to dedicate my life to decarbonizing transportation.
Over the last year, the pandemic halted my travel plans and eliminated a major personal outlet for retrospection. For the first few months of the pandemic I wallowed in a grief-like trance as trips and speaking engagements I’d worked so hard for were cancelled, my daughter’s school went virtual, and I adjusted to working full-time from home. However, I had cultivated the resilience to handle these disappointments, just like all of the other challenges I experienced in my life, and decided to use the extra time at home as an opportunity to accelerate my personal growth.
On a typical weekend trip to Target, I ran across a display with a three-month Priority Planner created by organizational guru, Rachel Hollis. I had never used a priority planner before, but I was intrigued. I decided to challenge myself for the next three months to see how much more I could do by intentionally and proactively working towards my goals.
In hindsight, I am shocked at how much I accomplished. This website is one of the direct outcomes of that effort, but I also made a lot of decisions related to my career (and pivoted to a new job), hired a speech coach to improve my presentation style, helped kick off a new Women of Electric Vehicles (WEV) chapter, supported multiple fundraisers to help elect President Biden, spoke at dozens of online events, reconnected meaningfully with old friends, got healthier, and published a significant amount of EV research to name a few.
Too often, we focus on the day-to-day tasks of life and are not able to step back and consider the bigger picture. The pandemic gave me the opportunity to more closely examine my life, what was important, and what I wanted to do next. Finding a way to continue to achieve – and improve – my goals has been the silver lining for me.
I challenge all of those reading this article to find your silver lining and to make the best out of this bad situation. Continue to find a way to work towards your goals because we can’t slow down if we are going to halt climate change.