Changing habits to change your life's direction is hard.
Hiking steep mountains is also hard.
Both require one foot in front of the other. Both require sustenance along the way. Both require rest times. And both require a desire to finish, for a desired outcome.
This photo is from a very steep hike we did as a family. You can see me and my youngest taking a break on an expertly placed log bench along the path.
I'm hoping to offer you motivation to stay your course on changing your life to a better direction, and peace through the inevitable struggles along the way from this comparison.
Before you even climb the mountain, you decided to climb it. You heard of the view, the breath taking scenery, the family friendly area, whatever it was, and you envisioned yourself enjoying these things. You loved the vision so much, you decided to take the steps to create this moment into your reality. You looked up where the trailhead was, you learned how long it would take to drive there and hike the path. You prepared some snacks and packed a backpack. You put on sturdy shoes, and maybe even put on some deodorant. You probably packed a camera to document this reality for future generations to know you'd been there and done that, or just for your own fun life history album or maybe just to share how awesome it was on social media. ;)
You are ready, and you begin.
About a 1/4 mile in your legs are sharing with you some mention of some heat, possibly some strain. This is a steep climb after all.
About an hour in, your body is sharing with you that you need to take a rest. It's hot. Your legs are shaky. Your lungs are burning a bit. And then your mind has time to form a debate committee to help you feel validated about all these warning signs from the body:
"Wow.... maybe I'm really not cut out for this. Maybe the view isn't going to be worth it. Maybe I'll just stop here and call it good. The view here is good too. I've seen enough. Well.... I really wanted to finish this. I really felt like it was going to be a good thing. I'm not dying... just feeling winded. Maybe a drink of water and a protein bar will help.....I mean, I've come this far already...."
And then you begin again.
You took the rest, you weighed your desire, took the opportunity for sustenance, and decided to finish.
But about 2 hours in you are REALLY wondering if it's going to be worth it.
You needed more rests. You needed more snacks.
You needed more water.
MAN. Are you a weakling or what? Does everyone need this many breaks? Am I odd? Am I less healthy than I thought?
By this point though, you are almost there. You can see the final ascent. But you are SO fatigued.
At this time, a fellow hiker comes descending from the top and says, "Oh my gosh! You are almost there. It's amazing. Totally worth it. You got this!"
With that validation that the outcome really IS worth all of the struggle.... You decide to just do it. To Just finish.
And you DO.
And the view is breath taking. The natural formations of rock are mind boggling. The crashing waterfall and spray have created a wonderland of moss and sparkling wildflowers in the middle of this dry region. You feel euphoric that you finished. You close your eyes and breathe the freshest air you've had in forever, and revel in the energy that is just pulsating from your chest and legs. You've never felt this alive!
You sit down and just live there for a moment. You feel pride in your efforts. You feel a deeper sense of self trust.... you kept the commitment to finish, despite the struggles and survival warnings from the brain.
You descend. And all the while, you pay forward the encouragement that that one hiker gave you- "You are almost there! Keep going. It IS worth it! I promise." And offer any tips that you can to help them navigate the harder paths.
That night you upload your photos to your social media or share them with your best friend or you just look through them with a smile. All the while feeling euphoric. You did it! You did that HARD thing. You conquered the mind game today.
You realize that the body is capable of almost anything. It is the brain that gives it the commands. The brain that is designed to keep you alive and was giving you all sorts of warnings today. It was warning you of imminent danger and threats to your health several times. The brain wasn't the one reminding you of your vision. The brain wasn't the one that helped you finish. If the brain was in control, the old paths of least resistance would have totally won. But you overruled those paths today. Something happened that caused you to feel more joy than you've ever felt. Something ELSE told your mind to shut up. Something ELSE told you that you could ignore the emotions from the strain and do it anyway.
And you realize that through fighting that struggle, you created one of the greatest moments of joy you've ever felt. It didn't come without taking the rests, and eating the food when you needed to though. Those things DID help, but ultimately it was your inner power- the soul- that overruled everything else. Your soul lives in truth. Your soul knew that your body was capable despite the warnings from the brain. Your soul knew that you COULD go where you envisioned. Your soul KNEW and that fellow hiker's soul touched yours in those final moments as it shared truth.
Friends. As you change your habits, to change your life, you will inevitably encounter struggle. You will need rests despite your great preparation. You will need to eat. To stop and fuel what you've built so far for a time before you move on. But those rests and needs to refuel, aren't the end. They don't mean you are weak- it means you are human. Don't let the brain create a story that is not true about yourself. Get a mentor- someone that has been there- and get their tips, use the tools they use, accept their motivation and believe their story when they say it will be worth it! Every step on the path matters. Just because you had to rest, doesn't mean you are back at the bottom. You have come SO far. Just rest up, get some food, and go again! You've learned so much already to get you where you want to go.
The struggle isn't a sign that you shouldn't be going down that path. The struggle is the necessary thing you need to conquer to become the person you need to be to achieve the things your soul KNOWS you can do. Pushing through struggle by listening to your soul, your truth, instead of your brain, creates NEW pathways in that brain of yours. Pathways that improve your ability to persist, grow, and to change. Pathways (thought patterns) in our brain are created through experiences, and our reaction.
These new pathways you need aren't there until you create them through hard experiences aka things you've never done, because you thought they'd be too hard or you wouldn't succeed. If you keep failing in your commitments and goals... you've created pathways to that end. So of course when struggle hits again, your brain will say "Hey- we felt this way before, I liked getting out of it by quitting, it stopped the pain, lets go that way again...." and your trust with yourself deteriorates further. Many times we need OTHER people to speak the truth to us, that will resonate with our soul, motivating us to try again and again. You'll find these people online, in books, on youtube, at a conference, etc.
The good news? Is that you can override those pathways as you keep using the new ones! Then the new ones become the paths of least resistance, and voila. You are a changed person.
If you are looking for a mentor for your health, you are in the right place. I will help you keep that commitment to yourself. I'll help you navigate the harder areas of this path. I will assist you in staying the course and offering fuel and rest resources when the time comes. But as your fellow hiker, I can say with full confidence, "IT IS WORTH IT! The feeling you'll have when your body feels amazing and your physical health is in check, will outweigh any struggle to get there! You'll be more creative at work, you'll smile more, your relationships in family and romance will flourish. It is WORTH IT. So much happens when your physical body is not longer stifling the power of your brain-soul connection and your ability to connect with others. All that you envision all of a sudden becomes doable."