A lot of this year's class of AT hikers have read the book "Appalachian Trials", by Zach Davis which is geared to help you learn about the psychological and emotional stuff to prepare for while hiking the trail.
From what I have read of it (and the blog), it has some good information on preparation and one of the things it asks you do to is make three lists. The first list is why your are hiking the trail. The second asks you to list the feelings you would have if you made your goal (i.e. hiking Springer to Katahdin). The last list was for what you would feel if you had to leave the trail before your goal has been achieved.
All of those Third Lists that I have read have made me a little depressed. They always seem sooooooo negative. They seem to totally dismiss the things you did accomplish during your hike, and concentrate on those things you couldn't do (for whatever reason).
I thought it was just me, but yesterday, I saw someone comment in the same manner to someone's number three list and that has led me to write down these little tidbits.
Call me an optimist, but here is my list for the "What if" of going out hiking and having to leave the trail.
If I don't complete the whole trail, I will...
1. ...most likely try again.
2. ...know that the trail will always be there... waiting for me... to come back.
3. ...realize that being ON the trail is the place to be. Why rush the journey?
4. ...believe that a goal not yet achieved, is still a challenge to be taken.
5. ...still have a bucket list item to strive for.
6. ...still love the trail with yearning. Wanting to be hiking on it, experiencing the world of the AT, always.
7. ...not be afraid to adjust my goals and work my way towards them at a life enjoying pace.
8. ...not think of myself as a failure.
9. ...learn a lot about myself that I didn't know.
10. ...know that I did so much more than those who never leave their front door.