The first consideration when plotting your New Year’s paddle goals should be measurability. Soft sell resolutions like “get better at paddling” or “paddle harder” are pretty much untrackable and therefore difficult to know if they were reached. For this reason, all the goals below are totally measurable. A second consideration is choosing goals that are within your reach. The loftier the goal the more likely you may get too distracted or abandon ship altogether. It’s good to push yourself, but within reason, so you're sure to experience the glorious taste of accomplishment and victory - which is what goal setting is all about, right? Here are some fun and achievable goal ideas to set for yourself this New Year!
Track your paddle adventures
Have you ever kept a travel or personal journal? Apply this principle to your paddling. Tracking your days, weather, distances and conditions can be a fun way to remember waterways and elements of your paddle trips. Start a hydro journal and see what paddle prose follows. Once you dial in the basics, see what poetic stories flow onto the page.
Bonus points: Rite in the Rain journals are ideal if you will be taking notes while on the water. With waterproof pages you can write in any weather without fear of smeared words.
Go where you’ve never gone before
Choose a couple waterways you’ve never explored and put them on your hit list. I like to pick a couple close to home - it makes for easier day trips, if for nothing else than the sight seeing. To compliment the locations within reach, choose one exotic paddle adventure. Think about a long weekend or multi-day trip, or even traveling to another part of the country. If you’re really bold, try an international paddle trip. Inflatables are known for their ease of transport. Put that theory to the test. Roll it up, pack it and fly with your inflatable paddleboard or kayak.
Bonus points: When choosing your destination, I like to consider a spot with a drastically different ecosystem than where I live. For example, if you live in the snow and cold, head to the Bayou, somewhere with white sand, or the tropics.
Instruction from a pro
Have you ever considered taking a paddle lesson or going on a professionally guided excursion? With either, you will learn a ton. There is a whole world of formal paddling skills you may know nothing about. Perhaps some paddle skills are intuitive, but hearing an expert break down the form and function of each movement can be enlightening and inspiring. Even if you're the best boater in your hometown wolf pack, even the best inflatable kayaker or paddle boarder can benefit from instruction.
Bonus points: Are you looking for more friends to paddle with? Signing up for a class or guided excursion can get the ball rolling with meeting new paddle buddies.
Do you normally navigate from an inflatable paddle board? Why not try your hand at inflatable kayaking? Do you typically tandem? Have you tried going it alone in the cockpit yet? Whatever vessel you are used to paddling - try another type. Check out a demo day at a local paddle shop to better understand your options. Or, call up a friend with a different vessel than you and plan a paddle trip where you swap boats. Just have fun and try something new. Who knows, you may fall in love with a new sport along the way.
Ocean, rivers and lakes
Still looking for a New Year’s paddle goal that suits your interests? How about trying a whole 'nother kind of water way? If you are used to paddling calm, still and serene lakes, why not step it up to a downriver tour? If you have perfected the art of shuttling river trips, how about giving the ocean a go? If you want to try a new type of water but you're a little nervous, circle back to “Instruction from a pro,” the third New Year’s goal.
Happy paddling and see you on the water!