Finding the Goldilocks Spot

 Finding the Goldilocks Spot

As you read this, I will be celebrating my (almost) 75th birthday by attempting to hike to the top of Mt. Lassen (10,500 feet). When I climbed the peak last summer, I met a 70+ year old gentleman at the top. He said, “You know, if we keep on doing this, we’ll be able to keep on doing this.” 

I’m exploring what I’ll continue to do as I transition more deeply into retirement, finding the new Goldilocks spots between so much “doing” and simply “being” –  more “living” – fully engaged with the complexities of our global world, I hope, and also more fully at ease. 

I learned the importance of finding Goldilocks spots – not too easy, not too difficult, just right, similar to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of “flow” – not too easy (boredom), not too difficult (anxiety) but just right (flow) – on a previous wilderness trip, hiking/biking in the Canadian Rockies. 

One morning at breakfast in the hostel, a woman asked my where my husband was. Well, I was traveling by myself. “Oh, I would never do that!” she exclaimed. Well…I biked to the trailhead to hike from Bow Lake up to the glacier that fed it. A posted signed warned that a fisherman had been killed by a bear two weeks before; hike at your own risk. Well, I did pause. And I did hike up the trail. Near the glacier I met six folks who had just skied down the glacier. Oh, I would never do that! And I realized we all had found our comfort zone in the Canadian Rockies. We all need to find our Goldilocks spots in life, all the time.


1 Identity one circumstance in your life – just one to practice with – where there might be different levels of risk. A difficult conversation with spouse or friend. Seeing your doctor now or waiting a few weeks to see if the pain goes away. Moving across the country for a new job or staying put, maybe staying bored. 

2 Identify the “too difficult,” “too easy,” and the just right possibilities as best as you can, knowing that your assessment might be different at different times in your life or depending on whether you are solo or companioned. 

3.  Experiment with your decision in your imagination first, exploring the possible outcomes of each choice as best as you can think it through. Asking trusted friends and family for their input is probably a wise thing to do, but stay anchored in trusting your own judgment and desires, too.

4. If it’s practical, act on your just right decision, learn the lessons from your experience.

5. And keep practicing, again and again, until you trust your own judgement more and more to land you in the land of just right.