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I wanna do a lot of things.  I wanna rock climb. Ice climb. Run. Bike. Swim. I wanna go to yoga classes, spinning classes, and zumba classes.  And I wanna do these things around the world—France, Switzerland, India, and Thailand.  But in reality that’s a lot of wannas and not enough cannas.  Except for those few amazing (and annoying) people who miraculously pull off doing all of their “I wannas,” most of us have to work (or look for work in my case).  We need money.  We need to pay off student loans.  We need to pay for health insurance.  And we need to eat.  Traveling the world is certainly not an option, and even the gear that we need to tackle some of our “I wannas” is more than we can afford.  So should we whine about it?

Yes.  I do.  But lately I’ve been trying to be a bit less whiney and a bit more practical in my approach to outdoor sports.  Take the facts as they are: we need to exercise to stay healthy.  We need the outdoors to stay sane.  We need things that are free.

But there’s another obstacle that I’m often faced with—getting off the couch.  My “I wannas” sometimes really mean “I wish I would,” and they often float in their mythical bubble around my apartment, laughing at me as I sip my tea and watch youtube videos of climbers.

So how do we practically manage our “I wannas?”  I’m tempted to be full of clichés and assert that we need goals, organization, and budgets.  But, as I’ve learned, goals often change when we’re stressed or busy, no one can actually stay organized, and budgets are often interrupted by unexpected costs (like vet bills and car problems).  So, here’s what I do.  Make friends with outdoor people.  I was lucky enough to meet my boyfriend in a gear shop (as he was working) who later became a rock climbing guide.  Gear, done.  Free lessons, done.  (And I promise, I was not using him for these perks when we started dating.  Now, well, I get what I want).

Most importantly, although I allow myself to try new activities with friends, I really only choose a few activities that I do on a regular basis.  Here’s an inspiration: My dad, 58 years old, swims 4,500+ yards every day of the week.  When he’s sick?  Swims.  Hurt? Swims.  Tired? Swims.  Travelling? Swims.  Every excuse that I use he tackles by getting in the pool.  And his mantra is simply quoting Woody Allen, “95% of life is showing up.”  Swimming for him has become a natural part of the day—just as we make coffee in the morning, brush our teeth, or check our e-mails.  His colleagues know not to call him before 8:30am because his phone will be off, and they know not to expect him at work until 9:00.  It’s simply a part of his life.

For me, the way to follow my dad’s example is to find a sport that I cannot turn down.  I know I’ll never get up at 6am every morning to run because for me running is just a way to stay in shape.  It doesn’t empower me.  But I know that I will get up at 6am to climb some rock or even some plastic in a gym.  I know that when I start moving, start following a route, I will be focused on mind and body.  That’s my “I wanna.”  What’s yours?