HOW TO SUMMIT YOUR MOUNTAINS: a survival guide




Nature, as wide and majestic as it is, always teaches me about simple things.  It knows more about the foundational principles of life than I'll ever be able to grasp and often embodies the mastery of them.  From the coexistence of species to the stillness of waterfalls, there is always a reminder that can be taken from nature's perfect example as to how to approach this life we've been granted.

In this post I want to touch on one of the lessons nature has recently taught me while I flip through some of my favorite moments from a recent hike I took on Stone Mountain in North Carolina.  On the hike, I was accompanied by some close friends from my church (the tiny dots in the above picture).  They make a few appearances throughout this post and played in integral role in the lessons I learned from the mountains that day.  I hope you enjoy some of their photogenic moments I captured.


This post is all about process.  Yes, the slow and steady of life.  The hills and the valleys.  The steepening terrain.  It's about all of those things and, more importantly, how you as an individual can make peace with their presence while still moving forward.

I feel as though hiking up a mountain is a fairly realistic parallel to many of the challenges of this life.  Your mountains might wind a little more than mine.  They might take a few extra turns or even have you climbing a steeper trail. 


Your mountains might even be ones you willingly and soberly placed in front of yourself.  They're ones that you chose because, in addition to the view being great, these mountains will make you a better and more equipped person to continue on your life's trek.

Let me first just say that if you're one of those people who places mountains in front of yourself, you're already succeeding.  Taking that first step to desire change in yourself through dedication and process in either a personal project, fitness regimen, career goal, or otherwise is already pushing you forward solely with the power of your mindset.  It has the ability to set you up for success in many areas in your life, no matter how many times you may fail.


But maybe you're not at the bottom of any mountain.  Maybe the thought has never even passed your mind to take a hike just for the joy and appreciation of the process and hard work it takes.  If that's the case, you're not alone, but you're also not moving.  You value comfort over betterment and have yet to fully grasp the importance of self-motivated discipline.

If this is you, I invite you to consider taking on a goal or project that wasn't assigned to you or forced upon you.  Create one that you've gifted to yourself as an investment in personal growth.  It doesn't have to be big or overwhelming.  It just has to be moving you, giving you experience, and teaching you more about yourself.


Now that you've found yourself ready to begin your hike, start that project, or prepare to reach that goal, I want you to keep in mind one simple word: process.  Process means a lot of things, but it doesn't mean cutting corners and giving up.  It requires patient endurance and an acceptance that the job will be done, not perfectly, but thoroughly.

Process requires a letting go of expectations while demanding persistent action.  It focuses on forward movement so that growth and develop happens actively in movement and not passively in thought, bogging you down.  


Don't be fooled, though.  Process, despite its rigid connotation, allows for great creativity and ingenuity.  In fact, in order to get the most out of process, one must not follow the steps they set out for themselves blindly, but constantly be in a state of reevaluation and refinement.

While on the hike, my friends and I were not interested in having a halfway decent experience.  We wanted to make the most out of the trip.  We made spur of the moment decisions to take side routes that sounded interesting, read historical placards, adjusted our pace to meet our time goals, moved lunchtime to a more convenient point in our hike, and played a little longer than anticipated in the waterfall.  None of these decisions were originally decided on, nor were they a diversion from process. They just enhanced our experience and made the trip even more memorable. 


Many people, even those who set and meet goals routinely, have a problem with a certain defining characteristic of process that sets it apart from general productivity.  That specific element is the appreciation of the in between.  Sure, the view is great on the top of the mountain, but did you notice the satisfaction of the switchbacks, feel your heart pounding in your chest, appreciate the steps you took, and live in the moment?  If you didn't, you didn't grow.  You didn't learn to appreciate the 90% while being so fixated on the 10%.  You forgot that a change in you doesn't happen when you reach your goal, but it's happening every step of the way.

Don't overlook the path which brings you to the mountaintop.


Climb steadily.  Climb patiently.  Climb purposefully.

You're never as far as you think from a better you.


Thank you for your time and read.  I hope the mountains have given you a little wisdom today. 

Much Love,
Sydney

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1 comments:

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