“Why would anyone ever want to climb Mount Everest?” I thought to myself as my class on leadership began a case study of the skills it takes to climb the highest mountain in the world. It’s dangerous, cold, and uncomfortable. It would stretch you to your absolute outer limits, and in the end, you may not succeed.
That’s when I realized, we all have our own Mount Everests to climb. While your particular “Mount Everest” may not include literally climbing the highest mountain in the world, you are likely facing a challenge or obstacle, or pushing yourself to reach a goal that may be just as ominous.
Do You Feel Like You Have a Mountain to Climb?
Pushing ourselves to reach our dreams or to overcome obstacles can feel just as overwhelming as climbing a mountain. It can be uncomfortable, stretch us to our outer limits, and it can be dangerous – at least psychologically. We make ourselves vulnerable when we reach for our dreams, and there’s always the chance that we might fail.
My Mount Everest right now is finishing my master’s degree and completing a thesis that includes an 80-page research paper and defense in front of my college faculty. It’s due this summer.
As I work to finalize my topic, this endeavor certainly feels like the world’s highest mountain. But rather than allowing myself to worry and stress about the assignment, I’ve found that I can look to the proven techniques used by the world’s top mountain climbers. These strategies have helped me as I climb that mountain, and they can help you too.
8 Strategies to Climbing Your Own Mount Everest
1. Create a Plan
This may seem obvious but you would be amazed at how often this gets overlooked. When you create your plan:
- Do your research – how have other people succeeded in your endeavor? Talk to them if you can.
- What strategies, techniques, or new habits will you employ to reach your goal?
- Create a timeline with milestones to help yourself stay on track.
- What obstacles can you expect? What can you do to overcome them?
2. Visualize Success
Take time each day to visualize completing your goal. What does success look like? How does it feel? Be as specific as possible, allow yourself to feel how you will feel when you’re successful.
Here’s one successful mountain climber’s visualization:
“I imagined myself on the summit. I also saw myself climbing and having a positive outlook getting there.” (1)
For me, success looks like walking across the stage in my cap and gown with my husband and family in the audience. I can see my finished thesis paper, see myself confidently presenting it, and see myself answering the faculty’s questions with ease. I feel joyful, grateful, and excited. Create your own vision!
3. Develop Mental Strength – Push Yourself
I’m not advocating beating yourself up or being hard on yourself; that’s never helpful. I want you to always treat yourself with love and compassion. But it’s also okay to push yourself. In fact, many things worth achieving will require you to push yourself beyond your comfort zone.
There will be times when you’re uncomfortable. You may have to put yourself out there in new ways, take risks, or keep working even when you’re tired, not feeling well, or just ready for a break. When times get tough, that’s when it’s most important to visualize your success, and remind yourself why you’re working so hard. Keeping yourself focused on your goal during times of adversity or discomfort is a key factor to success and is a primary strategy used by successful climbers.
4. Focus on the Right Things at the Right Time
Working hard is not always the same as working smart. Make sure you are focusing your time and energy on the areas that will get you the best results. This is where having a good plan before you begin will make a huge difference. If you should be studying, don’t allow yourself to get sucked into watching TV or checking your email.
5. Set Short-Term Goals and Celebrate Your Success
When you create your plan and timeline, establish milestones or short-term goals. This breaks your large project down into bite-sized “chunks” and can help you keep from feeling overwhelmed or saving everything until the last minute.
As you achieve your goals or reach your milestones, don’t forget to take time to celebrate. Acknowledging your accomplishments and your progress will help keep you motivated when times get tough.
6. Remember Lessons from Past Successes
You already have everything inside you that you need to succeed, whether you realize it or not. Take a few minutes to think back to when you’ve achieved a goal in the past or you’ve overcome adversity. What tools or techniques did you use? Write them down. If creating a daily “to-do” list helped you find a job or pass a test, chances are that technique can be used to help you achieve your next goal as well. Learn what works well for you and build on that.
7. Believe in Yourself
Believing in yourself and knowing you can achieve your goal will help ensure your success. This belief allows you to persevere instead of giving up. One successful climber said,
“I believed in my ability to make it to the top from day one, from the moment I made this decision three years ago. Somehow I just knew I could climb Everest. I never told anyone that I knew. I didn’t want to sound arrogant, but inside me, I seemed to know it. Even after obstacles, I kept pushing on and didn’t give up on my dream. I failed on Everest four times before reaching the summit on my fifth attempt. What made the fifth attempt different was that I had the confidence that I could do it.” (1)
8. Get Support
Creating a system of support, finding a partner to help you, or working with a coach can provide encouragement, feedback, and resources on your journey. Talk to others and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Now It’s Your Turn: What is YOUR Mount Everest? What strategies have been helpful for you on your journey? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments below. And, if you found this helpful, please “Share” it with others. Thank you!
(1) Reference: Mental Strategies of Elite Mount Everest Climbers