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How pushing your limits helps you navigate life’s challenges

About a year ago, just prior to COVID and all the resulting chaos, I decided to try something new and challenge myself in ways I never thought possible. Not only was I going to be a hiker, I was going to literally climb mountains. With a newly acquired backpack, some decent shoes, and a pair of hiking poles, I was determined to succeed. Keep in mind I have never been athletic, my workouts could be described as sporadic attempts at physical activity at best, but the wisdom that I have gained on the trails has saved my sanity during the uncertainty of this year. I use this time to reset and clear my head, and most importantly, step away from work given the challenges that many of us face working from home this year. I know I find my workdays blurring into the evenings and separation between the two is fuzzy at best. Here are four of my biggest takeaways:

Discover your happy place

During this pandemic reality, being on a hiking trail is the one place where I feel a sense of normalcy. I feel like me again. The worries and heartache of our current world just seem to slip away and become secondary to the sights and sounds of nature. Here in these moments, I find my escape and do a proper mindset reboot. For a few hours, nothing else matters, I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Find your tribe

Sometimes you need a hand, or a big push, and this is where your tribe comes in. I got lucky to meet a fantastic group of like-minded women to hike with regularly. We challenge each other to be stronger and test our limits. Our time hiking often turns into an outdoor therapy session. We have each other’s back and no one is left behind, either on or off trail. Plus, it is helpful to know that you are not the only one huffing and puffing.

Sunrises are more rewarding than sunsets

“Hiker early” is a term that is now engrained in my vocabulary. Never would I have thought that I would be up at 2am so I could be climbing a trail in the dark. From this, I learned to set my priorities, as well as my alarm. There is something so enjoyable about watching the sunrise, logging a dozen miles, and still having most of the day ahead of you. It is a feeling of accomplishment that is overwhelmingly satisfying.

Be okay with being uncomfortable

Hiking mountains is hard – ridiculously hard at times. Bagging peaks has taught me that it is okay to be uncomfortable and this feeling is temporary. Life is like climbing up a steep trail, sometimes you need to put your head down, dig deep, and push through. Seven mountain peaks later, they are still just as difficult, and each new hike presents a different challenge. When you get to the summit, take a deep breath, and enjoy that view. This is when you realize that the struggle was all worthwhile and appreciate the gift you have in front of you.

Find your challenge, start small, and consistently build on each step forward. Soon you will see that these small strides eventually add up to miles and you show up stronger in all areas of your life.

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