The number of metaphors that describe the trials of life are infinite. If you, or someone you know, needs one to help them through a tough spot, look no further than the ever reliable "Google" search. That being said, my personal go to metaphor has been that of climbing the mountain.
Before one begins their climb, there are a couple of important questions that need to be asked in preparation of such a expedition. To ensure that the journey can and will end successfully.
What's at the top of the mountain? What am I working towards? It's very important to have a goal in mind. It's what put you on the journey in the first place, and the very thing that will keep you moving when you feel like giving up. Life with no goal can be difficult to endure.
In my opinion, I feel many people fall into "depression" because they have either not found something to dedicate their lives to, or, even worse, have not found the courage to pursue the things they are passionate about. I want to be clear that I am not discounting the medical condition that many people suffer from called, "depression," but I also want to be clear that, I think, several of those diagnosed with said condition, might be allowing that "label" to define who they are, and therefore limiting their potential for the future. But I digress.
Answering the questions "what do I want out of my life," or "what do I want my life to mean," can be quite difficult, but they are not impossible. That is why it is important to establish not just one large goal to shoot for, but several smaller goals, as well. In other words, long-term and short-term goals. They can be related, like completing various certifications toward a promotion, or other employment. Or not related, like trying to commit so many hours to feeding the homeless, and/or trying to learn a new language. Whatever you decide to make a goal, the important thing to remember is that the best goals are the ones that improve our communities, and/or improve you, the individual.
What tools do I need? In order to accomplish any climb, one needs to be sure to have the necessary equipment to make it to the top. In the case of our climb, we need to be prepared with things like initiative and accountability, a solid yet flexible game plan, and a support system of friends and family (and maybe a therapist).
Initiative and Accountability are both the easiest and most difficult tools to acquire to
accomplish this climb. Because they are the tools that come from within, and as we all know, we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to self motivation, but that's why accountability is so important. Accountability ensures we look to ourselves for answers as to why something does, or does not, work for us in our quest to finish what we started. Otherwise, initiative packs the gear, gives the heading, and moves the pace in the direction of progress.
When it comes to game planning, flexibility, really is key. One's ability to be able to adapt when confronted with adversity is paramount to goal accomplishment. So, just as important as the plan itself, is the knowledge that pitfalls and landmines litter the path on the way to success. That awareness makes dealing with hard times a little easier, and makes us more likely to get back on track once a problem is resolved. At any rate, a plan should be in place in order to keep track of progress and timelines. (See Blog: SMART)
Also, in the realm of game planning, there should be room for a few checkpoints. Places where can stop and admire the scenery. It's an admirable quality to put one's head down and grind away at the task at hand, but take advantage of opportunities to pat yourself on the back every once in awhile. Especially, if you're doing well. It's understandable to be reluctant, but if you have managed to stay goal oriented for an extended period of time, stop and smell the roses. When negotiating the toughest mountains, climbers must establish camp sites as checkpoints, because taking on the entire mountain in one hike is practically impossible. It's in these moments, climbers relax, decompress, and admire the hard work they've accomplished so far. All that having been said, much like the climber does, so must we, because the next day is another day, and the climb must continue. But it's okay to take a "breather."
The support system. When taking on any climb, one has to keep in mind that although you may want to bring every rope and every hook you own, its not feasible to carry all the extra weight because it slows you down, not to mention dangerous. The same goes with the people you choose to keep close as you proceed along your journey. And you will need your people, you just don't need all of them. This is an important detail to have worked out ahead of time because not all friends and family will be supportive in these matters. Many will try and discourage you from fear of losing you from their own circle, or in some cases, some may deter you from taking necessary risks for fear of seeing you get hurt. Both admirable reasons to keep them close, but also reasons to consider letting them go. The bottom line is this: you will need people to get you from point "A" to point "B," but they can hurt as much as they can help. So only take what you can carry. Anything that prevents you from getting to the top of the mountain, should be cut loose, because the weight of trying to take them along would eventually drag you down the side of a cliff.
As mentioned earlier, there are countless metaphors at the disposal of those who need them to help make sense of a life journey, or a goal accomplishment easier. Personally, mountain climbing has always been mine. What's important to remember is this: every goal we set for ourselves is attainable by hard work, discipline, and the support of loved ones. Any task that makes you a better you, or a better us, will be faced with plenty of pitfalls and adversity, but if properly prepared, what seems impossible, is possible. See you on the mountain!