7 Stories of Reach & Why Goal-Setting is Essential

The importance of looking forward to the future and setting goals for yourself is undervalued. One of the seven No Barriers Life elements, Reach, is about setting goals for yourself and breaking barriers to achieve them. 

Goals are expected results of specific actions and they can significantly change your life. They can be short term or long term, big or little and individual or group. 

no barriers life reach

What is Reach?

To Reach means you:

  • Continually strive to meet goals
  • Are willing to try new things even if you might fail
  • Take risks to get outside your comfort zone
  • Seek opportunities to expand your potential 

“Reach is about being willing to go outside of your comfort zone to chase your dream even if that means you fail, because you understand that failure is just a way to learn and grow yourself.”—Mandy Harvey

Reach = setting personal goals. Goal setting is about helping motivate and guide yourself toward something you want to accomplish by creating an action plan. Setting goals for yourself, whether big or small, can help you to achieve faster, more focused results. Having a clear path guiding your life agenda is extremely beneficial to help you take effective, productive steps to achieving your goals. 

7 inspirational stories of Reach we love 

no barriers reach life element and obstacle course for testing being blind

Photo credit Moses Street

1. Nerissa climbed Mt. Bierstadt

Nerissa Cannon is a wheelchair user who set out to summit her first 14er. Not only did she achieve this goal, but it empowered her to achieve more. Through the help of 27 strangers, Nerissa made it to the top of Mt. Bierstadt. After this adventure, Nerissa set out to roll across the United States. By setting these goals for herself, Nerissa hopes to show the world that it is not about the limitations of her wheelchair, but what she CAN do with her wheelchair and the empowerment it gives her.

2. Susan Spann, Japanese peak climber

Susan Spann is a cancer survivor, but if you asked her, that’s not how she would define herself. She is continuously reaching and setting goals, to break barriers. Susan decided she was going to summit the Nihon Hyakumeizan, 100 famous peaks in Japan, and she started working towards her goal by training for a year. Shortly before her trip, she was diagnosed with aggressive stage 1 breast cancer. 

Seven months later, she had beat the cancer and was on the summit of her first of the 100 Japanese peaks. The goals Susan set empowered her to break through the barriers in her life from “being an overweight, middle-aged lawyer/author” to a cancer survivor. 

3. Craig DeMartino Turned a Fall into a Triumph

For any climber, listening to Craig’s story will make your hands sweat. Craig DeMartino is a rock climber who took a fall where he landed feet first on the ground, crushing his feet and legs, spine, breaking ribs and much more. After his accident, Craig’s first time climbing terrified him beyond what words could describe, but through that he realized there were few parts about climbing that he did love such as the feeling of the rock under his finger tips. 

“…You have to accept failure as part of the learning process…Failure is what you learn from. That is something that we absolutely do not encourage. And that’s a dangerous precedent to set…that risks are not worth taking, because you’re not going to learn from it and it’s going to cause more harm than good.”—Jason Malone, Compass School

Months after the accident, Craig made the decision to amputate his right leg due to painful symptoms he was experiencing. From this point on, Craig was on an upward trajectory. Figuring out how to live his new norm, he met other amputees like him who were passionate about rock climbing. Through Craig’s experience, he reached past the barriers that he faced and now he helps lead other disabled climbers through the organization Adaptive Adventures. 

4. Nyah’s Trip to Nepal

17 year old Nyah got to experience the trip of a lifetime, but it required her to step out of her comfort zone and be vulnerable with people she had just met. Nyah went on a two week long No Barriers trip to Nepal. During her trip, Nyah set a goal for herself to develop confidence and bravery so that she could take on any obstacles that came her way. This trip to Nepal gave Nyah the opportunity to set goals for herself and run towards them full force. By reaching for her goals, and succeeding, Nyah learned the value of setting goals that may seem far fetched because with the right mindset and the right people on your team, you can do anything. 

no barriers reach life element and river rafting

Photo by Micah Baird

5. Bobby Created His Own Educational Path

Bobby Moakley was born deaf and for the first 17 years of his life, being deaf caused many barriers to be built in his life. From friendships to academic achievement, Bobby felt like he was falling behind. After attending a No Barriers trip through the Grand Canyon, his mindset was changed. Bobby went on to study environmental science at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he paved the way for others like him. 

From being elected Student Government President to integrating the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Hearing cultures on campus. Bobby set goals for himself and broke through barriers.  

6. Reach Scholarships from Erik Weihenmayer

Erik Weihenmayer, the co-founder of No Barriers, created the Erik Weihenmayer Reach Scholarship which is given to deserving individuals who exemplify No Barriers Reach element. This includes those who push through barriers and tough trials, those who set goals and work hard to achieve them and those who step out of their comfort zones in the process. Erik wants to support people who are on a mission to make the world a better place by pushing through uncertainty to do the impossible. 

no barriers reach life element with nate

Photo by Micah Baird

7. Gabriel Cordell is on a Roll

After Gabriel Cordell had his life trajectory radically and instantly changed, it was not a simple walk for him to continue down his path of being an actor. When Cordell was driving to his first audition at the age of 22, his car was t-boned, leaving him paralyzed from the mid-chest down and in a wheelchair. When Gabriel was 18, he committed himself to doing something extraordinary before the age of 45, and man did he stick to that goal. 

Not only did he roll across the United States, but he also rolled between Palestinians and Israelis and the 123 miles across Long Island, NY. Yes Gabriel stuck to his goal, but to get there he overcame some extreme barriers. He quit doing drugs and his sex addiction to pursue his goals. When Gabriel puts his mind to a goal, he works extremely hard to achieve it, no matter what it takes.

View More No Barriers Stories on REACH»

Tips to achieve your goals & truly Reach

Inspired by Robyn Ward’s piece on Medium

  • Get to the heart of the goal. True goal-setting goes deeper than simply listing the things you want to “do.” When it comes to your big, bold goals, it’s more about who you want to “be.”
  • Create a plan. Have you heard of David Allen’s Getting Things Done? It’s an awesome book that gives practical how-to advice for setting up effective “to-do” lists!
  • Visualize success. This can be you. 🥳 Pro tip: Revisit this exercise often — particularly in challenging times as it can serve as a powerful re-motivator.
  • Create accountability. AKA a Rope Team!
  • Listen to the Official No Barriers REACH Playlist and get p.u.m.p.e.d.
  • Be somewhat prepared to fail spectacularly. Have confidence that you’re able to complete new tasks and reach goals you set for yourself.

What will YOUR Reach be?

no barriers reach life element and woman celebrating on mountain

Photo by Micah Baird

Like these No Barriers examples, you can set extraordinary goals for yourself and break through unbelievable barriers. Goal setting is a great way to propel yourself forward while keeping yourself accountable. Stepping out of your comfort zone is often essential to achieve a goal.  

Set your goals and crush ’em. Make ’em SMART. Ask your Rope Team to support you. Your No Barriers community will be cheering for you every step of the way. 

What goals will you set out to Reach?

Join the No Barriers Facebook Group & Reach With Others »

This article is part of an ongoing series that explores the No Barriers Life Elements in-depth. Find additional articles here:

  1. How to Create a Vision for Your Life
  2. 7 Stories of Reach & Why Goal Setting is Essential
  3. Pioneering: Easier Said Than Done
  4. Rope Teams & The Value of Community
  5. How to Stay Positive No Matter What AKA Alchemy
  6. 4 Steps to Find Gifts from the Struggle & Celebrate Your Summits
  7. How to Be the Best Leader You Can Be & Elevate Others
December 12, 2019
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