A couple of years ago, I climbed a mountain. It was a summer holiday in the north of England, and for some reason, I thought it would be a good idea. I started by walking through fields, past cows and farmland, and I felt confident. This will be a breeze I thought. Unfortunately, I was cheated, as unlike other fells and hills I’d climbed, the incline was particularly flat, and somehow, I’d convinced myself that the whole journey would be this way.
An hour in to the walk, and with only a mile or so to go, I sat on some rocks, feeling incredibly sorry for myself. My feet were sore, my quads were aching, and my calves were raw. I had a choice. Do I walk one more mile to reach the top, or two and a half miles to get back to our hotel? Let me tell you, it was a genuinely a tough decision. What did I choose? With substantial hesitation, and a face like a moody toddler who’d just dropped her favourite dummy, I rose and sulked my way towards the top. I’m not a runner, and at the time I was fairly unfit, so I hated every second of it.
With only 200m to go, I was exhausted. My legs were jelly but as the incline was so steep, I was able to use my hands to scramble upwards.
And against all odds, I reached the top. A wave of relief swept over me and my goal was complete. I had climbed Ingleborough. I had done it in an hour and half. I had no injuries and had not got lost. In a moment of celebration that I had reached the top, it suddenly occurred to me – I’m at the top of a mountain – the goalpost had moved, and then I had to make the long journey all over again, and I was gutted.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing; I discovered something important about goals that day that I’ve kept in mind ever since. Achieving a goal in your day to day life is like climbing a mountain. It can be a total slog that leaves your body exhausted and your brain fried, but you can’t give up mid-way through. Then you reach the top, but you can’t stay there, for a new goal has begun – you have to keep moving, keep pressing, keep progressing. It’s disheartening to realise that it’s not over, and you still have 3 and a half miles to go, but if you don’t try achieve your next goal, how can you possibly achieve your dreams?
Now, it may sound pessimistic, but I don’t think about achieving one goal as being ‘successful’. There’s always something else that will move you on to your next step in your fitness or career; something else that will improve your mindfulness; something else that will make you even more of a success. So, keep striving towards that summit, and the next one, and the next, until you eventually do reach your dreams.