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Do as Woodpeckers Do to Achieve Your Goals

Updated on December 10, 2016
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Nature and wildlife know exactly what to do to survive and thrive. Shauna believes we can learn valuable life lessons by observing nature.

Female Pileated Woodpecker in Live Oak
Female Pileated Woodpecker in Live Oak | Source

Have you ever wondered where the hell you’re going in life? Do you sometimes find yourself questioning the decisions you make or second-guessing the goals you’ve set for yourself? Come on, be honest. You know you have and probably more times than you care to admit. It happens to all of us. We’re human. We’re fallible. We get overwhelmed with responsibilities. We experience brain overload. We lose clarity and go into melt-down mode. Our minds get cluttered and it sometimes feels as if we’ve got cobwebs snatching up our forward thinking. We fall prey to spiraling circles of uncertainty.

Then, just as we’re about to lose faith in ourselves, something happens to clear the cobwebs and we’re once again able to focus.

This happened to me not too long ago. I was sitting on my front porch feeling kinda sorry for myself and having an all-out pity party when a Pileated Woodpecker caught my attention. He flew from behind my house and made a beeline for a dead tree in the lot across the street from me. Over the course of the next few days, I watched his activity and the cobwebs started to clear.

He changed my mindset as I watched his determination. He taught me – rather, he reminded me – of the fundamentals of setting and achieving our goals in life.

Here’s what I learned:

Define your goals
Define your goals | Source

Define Your Goals

It became apparent to me that the woodpecker was on a mission far greater than foraging for carpenter ants. Apparently, he’d spotted just the right tree to create a protective home for his lady and forthcoming offspring. He’d pound the tree a few times, then step back and assess the situation.

We need to do the same, no matter what our goals are. Whether we aim to build a business, balance work with home life, create a garden, or set aside time for ourselves, it’s important to periodically step back from the situation and see it from the outside looking in. Re-access and gain a clear perspective of where you want to go and what it’ll take to get there.

Can you relate to this article?

Do you sometimes find yourself losing sight of your goals?

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Take it One Step at a Time

Everything we endeavor in life has a rhyme and reason. There are logical steps to take in order to make the journey and achieve the end result.

My mind became clear on the steps to take on my own journey as I watched the woodpecker slowly and methodically chip away at the tree that was to become a safe haven for his offspring. He worked diligently for days until the hole became large enough for him to step inside and finish his work. I watched in amazement as he threw large chunks of wood chips outside of the hole. He was on a mission and knew exactly what it would take to achieve the end to the means.

It was then that I realized I’ve been going about working towards my goal in the wrong way. I took on too much too soon. I spent too much time learning and not applying. The more I learned the more there seemed to be learned. The Internet can be an awful thing, folks. Sign up for one newsletter and before you know it you have too many people telling you you don’t know shit from shinola. You have so much more to learn before you can step off the plank and swim. Or so the ‘experts’ would like you to believe.

Take one step at a time. Don’t get sidetracked. It’ll only muddle and befuddle your mind and before you know it, you feel as if you haven’t learned a thing. You may find yourself questioning your ability and even the goal itself.

Don’t let that happen. Take baby steps. Learn to walk before you run, but please don’t ever be afraid to run!

You must walk before you can run (or fly)!
You must walk before you can run (or fly)! | Source

Perseverance

My fine-feathered mentor kept at it for days. Hell, it may have been weeks, but he showed up every day and worked for hours. He knew what he needed to do in order to accomplish what he’d set out to do. He never gave up. As you can see by the photo below, he now has a cozy little home for mama woodpecker to incubate her eggs. I was tickled that he let me come close enough to take a photo of him sticking his head out of the apartment. Perhaps he knew how grateful I was to him and his mate for allowing me to learn vital life lessons from them.

I was almost ready to give up on my dream – my goal. In fact, I’d put it on the back burner (ever so temporarily). Mr. and Mrs. P. Woodpecker sent me a message: persevere and you will achieve! Take the right steps and you will cross the finish line. That finish line is the beginning of living. It’s the beginning of living your dream. After all, isn’t that what goals are all about?

Don’t give up. When life gets in the way, push it back or find a way to blend it in with your goals.

Male Pileated Woodpecker testing out his handiwork
Male Pileated Woodpecker testing out his handiwork | Source

Patience

I think patience may be one of the hardest traits to grasp. At least it has been for me all of my life. Patience is a virtue and one that must be learned if you ever expect to get anywhere in life. Once you set your mind to something, know that you have to take the necessary steps to get there. Rush them and you risk disappointment, frustration, depression, and loss of focus.

Imagine pounding your head against a tree for three to six weeks in order to clear a safe, protective spot for your lady and kids-to-be. I’ve often wondered if woodpeckers get headaches. Maybe they do, who knows? The point is they know they can’t just fold their wings, blink, and poof! have their vision suddenly appear.

It’s the same with us impatient I-want-it-now humans. If that were the case, we’d have come out of the womb running. And, honestly, wouldn’t that have been a drag? How would we know the joy of accomplishment if we didn’t have steps to take along the way?

Male baby woodpecker peeking out of his doorway. Patience and persistence paid off!
Male baby woodpecker peeking out of his doorway. Patience and persistence paid off! | Source

Conclusion

Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. Make them happen. Without (achievable) dreams, what is life worth? Set your goals. Determine the steps you need to take. Be diligent. Weed out the crap that muddles your mind and clouds your thinking. Strive. Persist. And above all, be patient.

When life gets in the way, take a deep breath, walk away, and observe nature. Breathe deeply of the beauty of life outside your four walls. Observe. Document. Take heed. Our wildlife has so much to teach us about living. They’ve been doing it right for eons. Are you ready?

Dream on and fly big.

Peace,

Bravewarrior


Shauna L Bowling

All Rights Reserved

Daddy woodpecker feeding babies. Mission accomplished!
Daddy woodpecker feeding babies. Mission accomplished! | Source

Motivational song by Miley Cyrus

© 2016 Shauna L Bowling

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    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 4 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      What a wonderful example of perseverance in life, Shauna. You and the woodpecker are determined to achieve your goals and I feel confident that you will. The first step is in realizing we need to step back and reassess every now and again. Thanks for sharing this inspirational message.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 4 months ago from Iowa

      Love this positive message. And the great woodpecker photos.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Oh boy did I need this today. I've let this political season get me down, not sure about traveling anywhere or going places I've always gone, because of fear of the unknown. I loved your story about the woodpecker. I could sure use him at my home. I do have a squirrel and birds that I feed daily, and they seem contented. I also have a neighbors cat that I feed. ( I an allergic to animals darn it. ) Thank you for this inspirational piece today. Now you go meet your goal's! Hugs..

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Peg, thanks for being the first to comment!

      Yes, sometimes we get so wrapped up that the only way to see clearly is to step away. I do the same thing in my job as a Project Accountant. If something befuddles me, I step away for a moment. Then the answer comes to me and I can move forward.

      We have to remember to not be so inside ourselves that we can't breathe. When we can't breathe, clarity has no way of finding us.

      BTW, I read "The Pub" when I was at my folks' over Thanksgiving. It was a real page turner. I read it in two days. Great job on your debut novel, my friend. I hope to see more from you!

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Thank you, Deb. I hope you're doing well. Although we've never met, I feel very close to you. When you hurt, I hurt.

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Ruby, I'm glad this came at just the right moment for you. Funny how that happens, isn't it?

      Sit on your porch and watch the kitties and squirrels. You'll see that they find time to play and have fun in their daily survival routines. When you open you mind, you'll find you get messages from the most unexpected places!

    • profile image

      Connie Smith 4 months ago

      I find myself distracted by emails all the time. Recently I 'unsubscribed' from a lot of the stuff that didn't seem so relevant anymore. What a difference it makes in the time I have to spend on what is really important to my goals. Your article is spot on!!

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Connie, it is SO great to see you here!

      Yes, ma'am. Get rid of those unnecessary subscriptions. I still have many that I need to unsubscribe from, rather than simply deleting them. They take up memory space and no longer serve a purpose.

      I hope you're doing well. Drop me a line and let me know what's new in your paradise.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 4 months ago from South Africa

      We can learn so much from the birds and the bees. The real wonder of the woodpecker, Shauna, is the fact that you allowed him to teach you, and all of us, a few very important lessons.

      Good to see you!

      Hugs,

      Martie

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Martie, I couldn't ask for a better comment and reaction to what nature can teach us. My Pileated Woodpecker family would be proud!

      BTW, they ended up having two offspring: a girl and a boy. I'll post the documentation of how the family came to be in a subsequent article. It was absolutely fascinating to watch the progress. I learned a lot about their habits that I wouldn't have known I not been witness to their miracle.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 4 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Sha - Seems a valuable lesson, that you already knew, was reenforced by your observations. Great photos and metaphor so clearly expressed.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 months ago from USA

      Great to see you writing again and using nature to promote such positive lessons. When my daughter was nearly 2 we had a woodpecker who was pecking on our house early each morning. It became a family dilemma how to dissuade or distract him and make him pound on a tree instead of the house. Our efforts worked until one morning I heard a jackhammer-like rat-a-tat-tat on the house. My daughter woke up and yelled, "Mom! The pecker's back!" We've always loved that story.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 4 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Sha,

      It is wonderful to see a post from you - inspirational and motivational as usual.

      Animals are the best teachers - thanks for sharing the lessons you have learned from this woodpecker.

      Have a peaceful evening. Love ya, mar

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 4 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Shaun's, when I saw you had written a new hub I knew it would be worth reading. A very important message here to set clear goals and never give up until you attain them. Good old woodpecker.

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Thank you, Mike. Your comment means the world to me!

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Funny story, Flourish. One that will be handed down for generations, I'm sure! Why was the woodpecker pecking on your house? Is it made of wood?

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Mar, it's true - we can learn so much from animals, both wild and domesticated. They seem to have life all figured out!

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Thank you for the awesome comment. Your confidence in me is just the boost I needed!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 months ago from Brazil

      Brilliant reminder for us all. I often take a break in the hammock just watching the birds. You're right about their focus and determination, they don't let anything distract them. We can learn a lot from them.

      My problem is I feel I have too many things which need to be done today, and consequently I either let something slip or do a half baked job.

      I'm going to bookmark this and refer back to it when I am feeling lost.

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Blond Logic, it sounds very peaceful hanging out in the hammock to watch the birds. Watching the stars at night would be awesome too.

      I can relate to your dilemma. When that happens, you simply need to ask yourself what can wait until tomorrow or even another day. You'd be surprised at the answer!

      Sometimes I give myself a lazy day where I don't do anything at all, but read or watch TV. The way I see it, I've earned it after years and years of putting others' needs and concerns before mine. I'm sure you have too!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It's good to see you writing again, my friend. There are so many lessons to be learned from nature. Unfortunately, many people consider themselves superior to animals and birds and thus, feel there are no lessons to be learned. Oh how wrong they are!

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      How wrong they are, indeed, Bill! That's their loss. People like that think they know everything anyway.

    • simplehappylife profile image

      SA 4 months ago from Earth

      Wonderful read (◕‿◕✿) Sharing on twitter right now. Thank You!

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Thank you so much, simplehappylife! I'm thrilled you found this worthy of sharing.

    • simplehappylife profile image

      SA 4 months ago from Earth

      You're So Welcome :o)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 months ago from England

      Good to see a great new hub from you, and so very true with wonderful advice!

    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 4 months ago from The Great Midwest

      The woodpecker (as does other animals)has an advantage over us humans when it comes to meeting our goals: instinct. We tend to think too much as opposed to just simply taking the next step,or in this case taking the next peck. Enlightened hub.

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Thanks, Nell. I know I've been slow to post this year. Thanks for cheering me on!

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Messenger, you're so right. We tend to over-think things. We also put too much on ourselves and we end up going into overload mode. That never works out well. As some wise person once said, K.I.S.S.!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      There are so many ways in which we can learn from nature; but too many of us pass by it, every day, unnoticing. This is a beautiful article, and very perceptive. :-)

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 4 months ago

      Great lesson. I find I get the same sort of lessons by doing something, such as picking apples. You need to step back to see where the next group of apples is hiding! Nature has a wonderful way of providing us with what we need.

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Thank you for the great comment, Genna. Our eyes are open but do we really see what's around us?

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      So true, RoadMonkey. We need to be more cognizant and look beyond the obvious.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      A very valuable lesson from the woodpecker. Patience and perseverance go a long way in the pursuit of dreams. Probably the birds succeed because they don't know how to worry about failure. Thanks for the motivation.

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Excellent point, Dora. So nice to see you this morning!

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      What a great time of the year for this hub! It's just the time when everything seems to pile up and all needs to be done at once. Thank you for your encouraging lesson.

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      I'm glad you found this article timely, Blossom. Now that I think about it, you're right about things piling up and stressing us out at this time of year. Perhaps that's why I was nudged to post my observance of the woodpecker.

      Thank you for your enlightening comment!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 months ago

      We have a very persistent woodpecker around here, guess he is teaching us these principles you write upon here. Thanks for the creative inspiration.

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Dianna, perhaps your woodpecker is, indeed, trying to send you a message. See him from a different light and you just may capture it!

      Thanks for stopping by. Your visits are always appreciated.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Sha.....I know why I like you so much! You're sooooo smart, besides being an all around awesome lady. Nature is our best source for wisdom & learning vital lessons. People laugh at me because I treat my pets like humans.....but they ARE humans with feathers or fur, some with 4 legs and some who can fly or do all sorts of wonderful things we can't do! No matter what anyone says, I'll always believe we have real connections with them.

      Woodpeckers! Well now, I do have something to say about my neighbors, Woody Pecker and his family!! LOL. Wish I could send you a picture of my redwood deck! At last count, I have 16 HOLES HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE! I never seem to catch them pecking but I hope they're having a great time! I left them a note the other day, asking them to play on the OTHER side of the deck for a while.....they've practically pecked my railing down to a toothpick!!....................Good to see you Girlfriend! Hugs, Paula

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Paula, I'm a firm believer that our pets are better people than most humans. We can learn a lot from them as well!

      As far as your deck, woodpeckers normally only attack rotten or rotting wood. They'll attempt to achieve their goal on wood that appears to be declining, but if it's still solid inside, they'll move on. If your railings have been pecked down to toothpick size, perhaps it's time to replace the wood.

      Love you too, my friend. I've been thinking about you a lot lately. Perhaps we need to schedule another phone conversation!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      LOL....OK OK.....I confess, there's a whole lot around here that is rotting & declining...and maybe not so "solid" any longer. a HEM!...no need to get personal! LOL

      Perhaps it's time for me to replace some......er...um.......cough.....I'll talk to you some other time girl!..........This is allegedly a family site...........Thanks for the laugh!

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      You're a trip, Paula.!

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      Shyron E Shenko 4 months ago

      Shauna, I am so glad the woodpecker broke-up your pity party. This is a wonderful inspirational hub and I love your pictures also, and Miley.

      Blessings always

    • bravewarrior profile image
      Author

      Shauna L Bowling 4 months ago from Central Florida

      Ha ha. You're the only one who mentioned the pity party, Shyron. I'm glad he interrupted it too!

      I'm glad you enjoyed this. It's always great to see you.

    • Gina Welds-Hulse profile image

      Gina Welds Hulse 3 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

      I love these lessons from Nature. It's amazing what we can learn from Nature and its inhabitants when we just pay a little attention.

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 3 months ago from Central Florida

      You're so right, Gina. Fortunately, we get to see nature all year round, here in Florida.

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 3 months ago from Central Florida

      Thank you, Nell. Happy New Year my friend!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 3 months ago from Orlando Florida

      You have given some great reminders about goal setting and goal reaching. I agree that the best approach may be just to dive in and then re-assess. Otherwise you end up planning so much, you don't do any real work. Learn on the job, get experience, enjoy a sense of accomplishment, and then figure out where you are going.

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 3 months ago from Central Florida

      Right on, Catherine! I've always learned by doing, not by reading about it. I'm referring to actual application. OJT has always worked for me. I grasp more when I'm in active pursuit and hands-on. I tend to space out and lose focus when sitting through a class unless it's inter-active.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 3 months ago from Dubai

      Positive and uplifting. Perseverance and patience make a great combination to help us achieve our goals. Thank you for sharing this important message.

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 3 months ago from Central Florida

      Nithya, you received the message loud and clear. Sometimes we all need reminders to stick to our guns and stay focused.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 months ago from london

      Very nice, my Sweet Friend Shauna.

      Learning from Daddy Woodpecker, eh? Cool! Great Hub and inspirational conclusion. So you're writing again? Excellent!

      Dreams? Well, one has been fulfilled. One more to go.

      1. I met a 'Son of God' in this life-time.

      2. I wish to serve ... to live in total and unconditional surrender to the Will of the Supreme, at God's choice hour and in God's own way.

      Yes. Patience is necessary. I'm in no hurry. I will visit you again soon, my Love.

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 2 months ago from Central Florida

      Manatita, what a wonderful surprise to see you here today! I know your dreams will come true. You're already half way there, my friend. Enjoy the journey!

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 months ago from london

      So sweet of you! You're very kind. I found the answer that I was looking for, that I was going to write to you about. I knew that I was close to your birthday and I've figured it out. Ha ha.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 6 weeks ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Wow Wow Wow. What a fantastic example you have chosen to bring a message to your reader. This was the most inspirational read I have come across for a while and I will share it. Many thanks.

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 6 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Wow, Nadine. I couldn't ask for a better comment than what you've voiced here. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 5 weeks ago from Texas

      Shauna, this is very inspiring, and I am always up for inspiring. I thought I put a comment on here, but I enjoyed reading this again.

      Blessings always.

    • bravewarrior profile image
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      Shauna L Bowling 5 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Glad to see you back here, Shyron. Thanks for the re-visit!

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