There’s a certain peace that I feel when I go hiking. Ever since I was a boy, I used to explore all sorts of trails around the country. I’ve always enjoyed discovering new places. Last month I came to realize that a trail is very much like the journey of life. I am absolutely addicted to the blissful feeling of climbing to the top in the same way that I’m addicted to striving for success in life. We all have our own mountains to climb. Our own dreams to fulfill. It’s my pleasure to share the life lessons I’ve learned at high altitude.
8 Life Lessons from Hiking
1. When you go after your dream, prepare yourself beforehand
If you’re used to spending long hours in front of the television, day by day, and your diet consists of Coke and fast-food, a bit of training before going hiking would make it easier for you. The same goes if you’re starting a business, going to an interview or taking a test. Learn as much as you can about what you’re going after. After all, knowledge is power.
2. Life is full of ups and downs
The moment that you feel that you’ve reached the peak and you’re about to celebrate, you realize that you need to go down and up again to get to the highest point. You might even notice that you took the wrong turn and need to go down again to get back on track. Sometimes, life can get difficult and, most of the times, there is no straight or easy road to success. If it would be easy, then everyone would be successful. Makes sense, right?
3. Realize your mistakes
This ties very well with point nr. 2. Most of the times, you will be unaware that you’ve taken the wrong path on a trail until either someone else tells you so, or you realize yourself, through intuition or past knowledge, that you’re wasting valuable energy going in the wrong direction. It’s easy to be stubborn and hold on to toxic habits, activities, ideas or even people, but when life gives you obvious signs that the road you’re taking is destined to fail, then it’s time to accept the fact, cut your losses and start over. Denial will only keep you farther away from your dream.
4. Each with his own goals
There may be groups that want to climb all the way to the top and others that drive close by to a cascade and merely climb 200 feet. Neither of the groups is wrong or right and none of them have the right to judge each other. You may encounter people with small goals that will judge you for your seemingly unrealistic goals. Also, you might look down on people for their mediocre goals. In situations like these, the best idea isn’t to look sideways, but to look in front and keep on going.
5. The road less traveled is often the most rewarding
Not once, but many times I’ve encountered situations in which a narrow, steeper road would be more efficient when wanting to climb to the top. The same way goes when it comes to life. Most people choose the road that others have chosen. The thing that sets successful people apart is their willingness to dream, experiment and take the road less traveled.
6. You choose your own rhythm
One thing that I’m not proud of is my eagerness and lack of patience when it comes to hiking. I see a spot, set an approximate time when I wish to arrive and stick to that time, regardless of other people in the group that might be tired. The only one that can truly stop you from pursuing your dreams is yourself or extreme misfortune. You can blame an accident that leaves you incapacitated or unable to do what you want to, but you can do so until you recover. After that, it’s still up to you to pick yourself up and get back on track.
7. Obstacles are made to be overcome
Hiking is a challenging and unpredictable activity. You might encounter steep trails and fall. The people in front of you might slip and make rocks fall in front of you. A road can be too slippery for you to go downhill. You will always face obstacles. You can look at them as stepping stones that test your motivation. Walls are there for those that don’t truly want to pass them.
8. Climbing to the top means that you’ve won, not that you’re the winner
You’ve finally reached the top after lots of effort. You’ve surpassed obstacles that you thought were impossible. The sense of accomplishment fills you with happiness and you can finally reap what you’ve sown. Now it’s time to start over and find something new that you can top.
Don’t just be happy that you’ve accomplished an objective that was not your life purpose. Find a new road that will build you up, the same way that your previous trail has made you see beauty and purpose. And yes, it was the trail that made you be so happy that you made it to the top. The top itself would be much less meaningful if you had to take the cable car.