I live minutes away from some incredible mountain ranges. The natural beauty that is all around me can sometimes get lost in the busyness of the days. A few weeks ago, I decided to go hiking with my kids. The trail was labeled “moderate” and although early in the season, we decided to go for it. I knew the trail would be a bit hard, but I was unprepared for how hard it would be. The first half mile was at a steep incline. It was hot, and being the first hike of the season, I was out of shape. I stopped frequently to catch my breath. I questioned my sanity and if I should keep going. As I kept moving up the mountain I started thinking about all the life lessons that applied on this hike. I call these “Life Lessons on a Mountain”
1. Go at your own pace. I’m in a very different space than my 13 year old. She’s an active, bubbly, full of energy kind of girl. I’m a 39 year old, tired, never enough time for cardio kind of mom. Expecting myself to go at her pace was a set up for disappointment. In life, if I try to keep up with anyone but myself, I am setting myself up for failure. That doesn’t mean I can’t challenge myself or push myself to continue, but comparing myself to someone else’s journey will end in disaster.
2. It’s ok if you don’t make it to your intended destination. On our hike, my intended destination was a look out point called Grandeur Peak. When I started out on our hike, this was my destination. About 30 minutes into the hike, I could see that this wasn’t going to happen. I started setting up smaller, more manageable goals to reach. My goal became making it to the next shady spot, the next 100 steps, or to a look out point. If your intended destination seems out of reach, set up smaller goals and work your way to the top. It’s ok to take yourself where you are.
3. Come prepared. Although I brought plenty of water, I hadn’t eaten lunch or brought any snacks for the trail. Combined with the heat and my physical limitations, I was a recipe for disaster. Coming prepared by eating protein prior to the hike, or bringing along some nuts to snack on might have helped alleviate some of the discomfort I felt along the way. Preparation is critical to success.
4. Understand your own limitations. Setting my sights on a 5 mile hike when I had barely walked around the block this winter wasn’t realistic. Understanding my own limitations helps me to reach manageable goals.
5. Enjoy the beauty wherever you are. Don’t wait until you “get there” to open your eyes. Although I never made it to the top, I was able to see wildflowers, rolling green mountain tops, and butterflies. I heard birds singing. If I had waited until I was at the top to enjoy the view, I would have missed the beauty along the way.
6. Love yourself for trying. It would be easy to get frustrated with myself for not making it to the top. Instead, I’m choosing to love myself for trying. I’m loving myself for making an effort to enjoy the world around me. I’m celebrating the mini milestones and encouraging myself to try again. Negative self talk was my go to for so many years. Clearly, that didn’t work well for me. I’m choosing a different way.
7. There is always another chance. This wasn’t a once in a lifetime opportunity. I can try this hike again later in the season or next year. I can work my way towards another chance. I can take the lessons I’ve learned and try again. Just because I “failed” this time, doesn’t mean that I can’t succeed. Failure to me is when I stop trying.
So there you have it. Life lessons on a mountain. I think I’m ready for life lessons from the beach next.