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Climb Every Mountain & We Can Do Hard Things

September 13, 2016

A week ago a friend and I hiked Lone Peak in the Wasatch Range. It was Labor Day and I wanted to maintain a family tradition of hiking on the Fall holiday and take advantage of the gorgeous day off work.

A few stats about Lone Peak:

  • Elevation gain: 5800 feet
  • Distance: 12 miles roundtrip (we got lost a couple times so we think it was closer to 13 for us)
  • Ending elevation: 11, 253.
  • Difficulty rating: “For experienced adventurers…strenuous.”
  • Spectacularness of the view: 10 stars.
  • Days it took me to walk normally again: 4

Neither of us had hiked Lone Peak. And in fact, we started the day without a strong commitment to really summit the mountain. Even just a wander in the mountains sounded pretty good. At some point I think Sarah got more determined than I did, but I did remain committed to putting one foot in front of the other. And that is exactly what it took to get there.

An unglamorous capturing of me taking one of the thousands of steps taken that day. If I look dazed and exhausted it’s because I was.

On the way up it was reassuring to say, once out-loud then countless times in my head, “We’re closer than we’ve ever been before!” On the way down phrases like “We chose this?!” (tone: sarcasm, incredulity, what-were-we-thinking) and “Ow ow ow” were more commonly heard. We finished our hike in the dark, finally arriving at the car at 9:06pm, 13 hours after we started. We (hysterically in retrospect) thought we’d possibly be done in time to catch a matinee. I may never find the guts to hike it again but I can still say very enthusiastically: it was one of the hardest things I’ve done but it was SO worth it.

The peak is at the top right of the picture. This was still 3 or more hard hours away from the summit.

There are so many parallels between summiting a mountain and learning to change spending habits or getting out of debt or getting rid of mountains of clutter.

  • Ideally, you’ve got to be close to 100% confident you can and will get there (i.e. Sarah’s level of commitment and confidence that we really were going to get to the top).
  • In lieu of the above:) putting one foot in front of the other on the path to the top still got me there. Just doing it and starting over if you fall while hiking (like I did) or if you fail in budgeting (like I’ve also done lots) get you closer to the top than ever before!
  • There will be grand vistas and views along the way. You don’t have to be 100% debt-free or a never-failing budgeting rockstar to taste success. The mountain peak is not the only place with a gorgeous view. When you make choices educated by your budget, choose to forgo something for a little while or choose the less expensive option…that feels really good! Even more satisfying is when you have money set aside for things that typically derail your finances – car repairs, annual memberships, medical expenses. These little summits along the way to the big one are beautiful and to be celebrated too!

I’ve been able to share with friends that I’ve paid off over $20K debt in the past year. This is a rather staggering number even for myself to process especially given all the fun things I’ve still been able to do. It’s been rewarding to see that number motivate friends that THEY, maybe, just maybe, CAN DO IT, TOO. So here I am offering up a reminder like we all need that we can do hard things. We can climb mountains, pay off debt, set hard goals and achieve them. And, unlike the hike for me:), sometimes those hard things stop becoming hard once we learn about them, ourselves and our triggers and motivations, and get some momentum! Here’s wishing you lots of momentum as you start/continue your trek to your mountain peak whatever it may be. Now, climb on, Maria*!

*Vague reference to Sound of Music and specifically “Climb Every Mountain” sung by Mother Abbess. I must admit, that song was running through my head for much of the hike but couldn’t stir me to do more than plod unglamorously along.

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