Over the past two weeks, I have had more conversations than I can count with clients, coworkers, friends, running partners and people in the grocery store line up which can all be summed up by the age old car trip query, “Are we there yet?”
- The answer is, “Nope.”
Life is a never ending journey of climbing to the top of a mountain, enjoying the view and peace from the top, finding another mountain to climb and then doing the hard work of travailing, traveling through switchbacks, descending down into dark chasms only to have to immediately climb up the other side, fording rivers and slowly picking your way up a winding path next to a sheer drop off to arrive at your next, well-deserved and glorious mountaintop view.
If you have ever hiked up a mountain, you know that despite the beautiful vistas along the way it can be a lot of work, somewhat dangerous, hard and tiresome. Yet the pay off of being able to see more of the world and sit back and enjoy the view for awhile is rather satisfying and worth it.
- No one climbs to the top of a mountain and stays there indefinitely, there is always another mountain to climb.
When you’ve climbed to the top of a mountain, scaling another peak doesn’t seem complex. In fact, you can probably see it from where you are and it feels like shouldn’t be too hard to get to; after all, you got to the top of this mountain, right?
And so the next journey begins.
The gap between where you are and where you want to be is usually larger than you realize when you start out.
- Most of life is lived in the gaps.
Steep climbs paired with some glorious vistas and fabulous seasons of easy climbing have taught me that who I am and who I am becoming is always and completely up to me. I can’t change what happens in life as I climb my mountains, but I can choose to do my best under pressure and become a strong climber.
Over the last season, I have been practicing a few things to help me do a little bit better as I navigate the gaps which make up most of life.
#1 Be where you are
Being happy is not about avoiding pain. How much happiness you are able to experience is directly related to how you go through painful experiences. Happiness is the gift that comes from learning to experience all of life, even the most painful and unpleasant things. Lean into both pain and happiness as it comes in life; go through the pain and savour the amazing times. There is a deep sense of joy that comes when you finally arrive on the other side of hardship, a peace and lightness that cannot be taken away because it is rooted deep into your soul and fills the space that loss has left behind.
The best views and incredible peaks require the most work to arrive at the top.
And when you find yourself at the top or running through a beautiful meadow, throw your arms wide open, smile, let the sun shine on you and laugh as you happily spin around.
- Lean in and drink deeply of all life has to offer.
#2 Take risks
Someone whom I respect and quite adore once told me, “In order to make an omelette, you have to break some eggs.”
Oftentimes, to get what you want out of life you have to break what currently is in order to make something new. It isn’t for the faint of heart and it takes courage to create a new future.
Risk is never comfortable, but once you’re clear on what you want and where you’re going, you owe it to yourself to execute. Simply not doing what you know you need to do, avoiding, or not making a choice is actually making a choice; every single action and inaction has its risks, both seen and unseen.
- What if it isn’t broken, rather just open?
#3 Learn to be ok traveling sans map
There is a certain finesse and je ne sais quoi involved in simply moving forward when you don’t know every twist, turn, step or climb in a journey.
Or more aptly put, no guts, no glory.
I have learned the art of gathering what I think I might need and then just doing the next thing because there is no Google Mapsloree app out there to tell me what the next life turn is, where I am going, when I am off course or what time I am due to to arrive.
Once you’ve started on a journey and descended into the valley, it can become hard to see where you’re going and it is easy to feel desperately lost even though you are moving towards where you want to go and what you want to do with your life.
- You’re not lost, you’re in process.
#4 Tell yourself a better story
A business acquaintance of mine noted that I have “a legendary optimistic approach to life”. I laughed out loud because I would simply call myself a realist who takes all things into consideration. I am adept at seeing all the problems and all the possibilities; the glorious, good, interesting, boring, bad and ugly.
I have simply decided it makes sense to spend more of my time worrying about what could go right rather than what could go wrong since whatever I tend to over analyze and obsess about rarely happens anyway.
- Worry about what to do when it goes right.
#5 Throw caution to the wind
I make more plans than the average woman. I have goals, lists, spreadsheets, I am prepared – heck I have everything from dental floss to bike tools in my purse at any given moment. I pack my lunch the night before and get up before the sun to train. And then opportunities show up which I have to say YES to and all plans get thrown out the window and I wonder how in the heck I am going to accomplish what I just agreed to, yet there is nothing else I would rather be doing at the moment.
I am notorious for saying yes to things that make my heart sing and then figuring out how to do them once I start; instruction manuals are rarely referenced which only adds to the chaos and adventure.
The truth is no one knows what they are doing and the only way to grow your capacity is risk epic failure while learning how to do things you don’t know how to do.
Because I am human, the only way I actually grow is by external pressure. Not knowing how to do everything I have committed to keeps me on my toes and forces me to keep learning, striving and risking failure. Every good woman needs a challenge and adventure in her life which helps her show up every day and give all she has to the task at hand.
- Make the bold choice and take the opportunity when you come to a fork in the road.
The next challenge in life is rarely easier than the last.
Every single day is an opportunity to become a little bit better, develop, reflect and grow through, not just go through, life. Most days pass by without much notice, but the training you do and the purposeful choices you make in how your respond to life is who you’re becoming and it is what prepares you for the next, bigger, harder, more challenging peaks and valleys which scatter the landscape of your life.
- If you don’t start the climb, you will never arrive at the top.
If life is anything, it is dichotomous, and that is what makes it good even when it is hard.