Goal Setting and Mountain Climbing – 5 key lessons

Sometimes, achieving your goals can seem like climbing a mountain. Well, funnily enough … it is!

I’m fortunate to have some wonderful friends – a few days ago we decided to climb Goat Fell, the mountain on the Isle of Arran just off the west coast of Scotland … and we all took our sons with us.

Climbing a mountain really does hold several great lessons for goal setting and success. Here are five of them:

1. From a distance …

From the mainland, our goal (the highest point on the island) looks very distant indeed.

It’s actually difficult to get a true sense of it from across the water: sometimes it’s too misty to actually SEE the mountain from the mainland. Sometimes the top is shrouded in cloud whilst the rest of the island is visible.

Perhaps more to the point is that I see this view – weather permitting – almost every day. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve said to myself, “I really must climb that thing …”

And isn’t that the thing with life goals sometimes? The bigger they are, the more distant they seem, and it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of saying, “Ah yes! One day …” rather than actually making plans to get there.

2. As you get closer …

As the ferry gets closer to Arran, Goat Fell starts to look alarmingly large and steep, especially to a novice hill walker like me. The dreamy image of an island across the water in the sunset gives way to a towering hill of rocks … and a challenging summit with a rocky outcrop.

When you focus on your goals and move them from the status of a wish or a pipe-dream to something you actually intend to do something about, the enormity of the task can seem daunting … to the point of actually putting you off.

It’s important at this stage, though, to look at the challenge in front of you, and make a decision to go for it.

Once you’ve determined to set out, the route to the top turns out to be pretty straightforward: you prepare and plan as much as you can for your journey … and then you put one foot in front of the other and keep going until you get there.

3. As you journey up the hill towards your goal …

It does get tiring climbing up the hill. Your focus is often on where you’re putting your feet, so that you can avoid stumbling on a loose rock or slipping on the scree. However, you’d be missing the point if you didn’t stop from time to time to look up and make sure you’re still on the right path to the top … and to look back and admire the view.

In terms of goal achievement, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, one-step-at-a-time tasks that are taking you to the top. These are, of course, extremely important.

It’s also vital, though, to pause from time to time and check that you’re still on the right path, and if not make adjustments and realign your direction … and to look back see how far you’ve come.

Getting to the top is important … but so is enjoying the journey.

4. The path becomes apparent

From the bottom of Goat Fell, it’s not easy to see exactly how you‘ll get to the top: the last stretch of the climb looks like a challenging heap of large rocks with no immediately obvious path.

As you get closer to those rocks at the top, though, a path becomes obvious. Bizarrely, the rocks have formed a sort of natural stairway to the top of the mountain.

Sometimes when you set off towards your goal, the path to the top ISN’T obvious. Sometimes that can put people off. But as you carry on purposefully towards your goal, a path will open up in front of you (I’m not being trite here … it really does!)

5. At the top … the next peak is on the horizon

Yards from the top, walkers on their way back down encouraged us to keep going, that it would only take another 10 minutes or so, and that the view from the top was spectacular.

They were right – on a clear day, the view from the top of Goat Fell is stunning, and absolutely worth the effort of climbing to the top.

Celebrate your successes and your goals as you achieve them.

And in exactly the same way that, once you get to the top of one mountain, you can see the peak of the next one, your next goal will already be on the horizon.


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One Response to “Goal Setting and Mountain Climbing – 5 key lessons”

  1. fiftyin2012 Says:

    I live in the States in the beautiful state of Colorado, where I love to hike and climb the mountains. Your pictures are beautiful and you are so right…once you get to the top it is stunning and so worth the trip!

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