Last week I accidentally climbed a mountain.
How does one accidentally climb a mountain, you ask…
Well, it started by saying YES.
I said YES to an invitation to go to an intention-setting gathering for the new moon.
I’d been to a similar event with the same organizer on the summer solstice. It was wonderful! We took a short jaunt up a scenic hill at the foot of a mountain.
We did a guided meditation.
We journaled about our experience.
We shared our insights.
So when an email came through asking me whether I wanted to join in another adventure, I was all in.
But I didn’t read the email closely.
When I showed up at the trailhead just after 6 am, I learned that this time, instead of meandering in the foothills, we were climbing to the 1559-foot summit.
“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit” was the one thought circulating through my mind as I trudged up the steep, rocky switchbacks.
My lungs were burning.
My legs felt like lead.
I wanted to stop, to go home, to get back in bed and forget I’d even attempted a 3.5 mile hike up a mountain at dawn.
But I didn’t quit. I didn’t give up. And I didn’t turn around until I reached the top.
As I stood on the summit, with a glorious view of the entire city below, I couldn’t help but ask myself why this had happened. Why had life given me this experience? What lessons did I need to learn?
As soon as I posed the question, the answer flashed before my eyes.
There were six reasons I got to the top. Six principles that brought me up a mountain I didn’t know I was going to climb, but was so grateful to have conquered.
Here are the 6 principles. I bet they’ll help you get to the peak of your next mountain, whether that’s writing a book, committing to blogging consistently, or finally capturing your authentic voice on your website.
#1 Set a Clear Goal
Even though I was clueless about my goal when I showed up at the trailhead, as soon as I heard we were climbing to the top, I stayed focused on that. No point trying to talk myself out of of putting one foot in front of the other. I knew where we were headed, and I knew there was no stopping until we reached our destination.
The goal was a way to remind myself that the discomfort couldn’t go on forever. Eventually I would get where I wanted to go. The goal helped me focus on the endpoint. The reason. The big WHY. There was no wiggle room. I would know when I hit the summit. And until I got there, I would stop trying to convince myself that maybe the goal was out of reach.
?Do you have a clear goal you’re focused on in your writing? Do you know how it will serve your business?
?Do you know your big WHY? Can you connect with the benefit you’ll get by sticking with your plan and continuing to put one foot in front of the other?
#2 Get an Experienced Guide
I would’ve stayed at the trailhead looking up in overwhelm if it hadn’t been for the woman who organized the hike. Heck, I would’ve stayed iny my warm, cozy bed. I needed a guide to push me out of my comfort zone and inspire me to do something this difficult — and this rewarding.
I had faith in her knowledge and experience to get me safely to the top. Which meant that I didn’t have to think about the details. Am I still on the trail? Am I moving in the right direction? Am I almost there? Is it safe to continue?
?Do you have a trusted guide to take you in the direction of your goals around writing content for your business?
?Are you confidently moving in the direction of your goals, or are you floundering at the first fork in the road, wondering whether you made a wrong turn?
#3 Have Someone at Your Back
Working in concert with the guide was her co-organizer, who took up a post at the rear of the line. No matter how much I struggled or slowed, I knew I couldn’t be left behind. Someone had my back. I was still in the pack. I had help if I needed it. Someone was watching out for me.
Which also meant that I was between someone else and the summit. I don’t know if you’ve taken Gretchen Rubin’s quiz about the Four Tendencies, but for an Obliger, knowing someone else is depending on me to keep going is huge. It’s one more WHY. It means when all those little gremlins start whispering that I should quit, I can hush them with the simple statement that I’m not alone. Someone else is depending on me to keep going.
?Does someone have your back? Do you have an accountability ally who will motivate you to keep you going when you feel like quitting?
?Are you leveraging your personality and learning style to make it easier to keep going? Using what you know about yourself to stay invested, even when things get hard?
#4 Take Water Breaks
No matter how determined I was, I couldn’t have made it to the top without stopping to catch my breath and drink water. Stretching myself toward this challenging goal wasn’t about punishing myself or enjoying the pain. On the contrary, each water break was also a chance to look out at the vista. To marvel at the view. To celebrate how far I had come. And to realize I was closer to the summit than when I started.
?Do you pause to celebrate your wins and acknowledge your accomplishments?
?Do you have a practice in place for reflecting on your writing process and taking stock of what’s working or what you’d like to do differently?
#5 Be Responsible for Your Own Feet
A few times along the rock-strewn path to the top of the mountain (and also on the way back down), I told myself I had to hurry. I had to catch up. The Obliger in me began to panic a bit as she thought about slowing down the group.
But a deeper wisdom emerged in these moments, telling me that only I could be responsible for my own feet. If I thought it was a burden by being slow, how much more of a burden would I be if I misstepped and sprianed my ankle and couldn’t continue?
I realized that I could only go as fast as I could go. My obligation to the group was to take care of myself. To be responsible for my feet. To step with care so that I could keep walking.
?Do you respect your own process and listen to your intuition about how much and how often you write?
?Do you stay focused on your own progress, even when you worry other people in other businesses are passing you by?
#6 Decide to Keep Going
As I neared the peak, my legs were wobbly and my face was flushed several shades of red with exertion. I stepped up onto one particularly large boulder and fell backward. Not all the way down on my butt. Just back onto the foot on solid ground. I had to fight the backwards momentum and try again. This was one of many moments when I had to decide to keep going. To keep reaching toward my goal.
There have been several times in my business when I’ve set myself big goals and for one reason or another fizzled out on them. And it’s almost never because I decide to quit. It’s because I lose sight of the big goal and stop focusing on doing what I can in the moment to keep moving.
I realized that the secret to reaching the goal is to stay present. To actively commit myself to the goal. To decide again and again and again to keep going.
?Do you have practices that help you stay committed to your big writing goals?
?Do you use mindfulness in order to anchor yourself in the present moment so you can create content consciously?
Coming Back Down
I’m so grateful that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into with this hike. I might have come up with an excuse not to go.
Which means I would have missed out on seeing the sunrise and the glimmering lights of the city below.
I would have missed the chance to make myself stronger by discovering where I am weak.
I would have missed out on learning these key lessons.
At the top of the climb, when we sat to journal and think about our intentions, I wrote the following:
“I can have everything I want if I’m willing to do the parts that are hard for me but that take me to the next level.”
Does that resonate with you?
Are you ready to do the thing that feels hard, but that you know will take you to the next level in your business?