“You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so… get on your way!” -Dr. Seuss
Let’s agree on one thing. The future is an uphill climb. Whatever vision, dream, or goal you have, requires you to climb. However, we naturally gravitate to habits that take us down the slopes of life into despair, discouragement, and distress. In reminding you that anything worthwhile is uphill, I am encouraging you to understand this one thought: when you choose to take the hill, you are opting to do what is difficult to reach something that is worth it.
What Is My Hill?
To scale the mountain waiting for you and reach its summit, taking the hill is key. And there are many hills to conquer as you climb your mountain. Actor Matthew McConaughey says, “Be brave, take the hill. But first, answer the question, ‘What is my hill?'” I believe McConaughey is on to something with this short but powerful question. For a student, identifying and successfully taking the hill of exams and tests is part of ascending the mountain of academic excellence.
Knowing your hill makes the shades of uncertainty dissipate as the clarity of motive and intention comes into view. Why should you be clear about your hill? To ensure you don’t misappropriate your most valuable nonrenewable resource; time for which has no rewind button.
A Running Conversation
To stay fit, I enjoy taking long runs outside. However, the fun of running outside is sometimes stolen by the myriad of hills I encounter. I have a tendency of thinking and talking myself out of taking the hill. I slow down as a plethora of thoughts flood my mind.
This hill is too high.
Maybe I should walk up the hill and then run down the hill.
If I run up this hill, will I have enough energy to get home?
Is there a way to avoid this hill?
But one thought lingers in the background. Starting as faint but growing in strength is,” You can take this hill.” This one thought gives the buttress to stay focused until I have taken the hill. Here is a little secret that I have discovered: It feels good to take the hill whether in running or in life.
When you think of your hill today, what thoughts flood your mind? Self-defeating thoughts? Confidence-building thoughts? Your most dominant thoughts determine not only how you view the hill, but whether you take it or not. Here are two hills I believe we all encounter as we climb our mountains.
Most of the hills we have to overcome are within us. At times, our emotions are divergent from our intention to do what is wise. Two areas our emotions often cast a dark shadow are relationships and finances. Do you find that your emotions dictate your behavior in your relationships and financial decisions? When this occurs, our thoughts are sabotaged as our emotions take over and hold us hostage. Thus, our progress is stunted.
Creating an Alignment
Our emotions can keep us locked in a vicious cycle of destructive habits and we cannot find the right combination of thoughts to break out of it. Our low emotional state makes us bottom feeders in the sea of life. We remain campers as our future rests on a precarious ledge. If most of our relational and financial behavior is predicated on how we feel, not just on what we know, how do we align our thinking and feeling to create a better way of choosing?
Start by asking, why am I feeling this way? This pause to ask approach can save you from dispersing negativity into your relationships or ruining your financial plan. Then ask, if what I feel is real, what thoughts do I need to inject in order to change this feeling? Conclude with this final question, with this new way of thinking and feeling what is the wise choice in this situation? What hill are you facing in this season of life? As wisdom takes the driver’s seat, your low emotional state loses its controlling edge. As you practice this, you will keep climbing on days you feel like camping.
Another hill to overcome is the environment we grew up in. Unknowingly this hill has a strong pull on our present and future. If, for example, you grew up in a home where excuses were made over and over again, more than likely you will discover the same modus operandi when you face challenges. Or, if alcohol was how problems and sorrows were drowned, you will be more apt to reach for the same when the waters of life get choppy. At times, our emotional state is a product of our environment. If anger and yelling were how you were conditioned to communicate, more than likely you will become a repeat offender in your current relationships. Many of us are miles and years away from where we grew up yet we are tied to patterns of living engraved into our minds and hearts by those formative years.
Live To Tell a Better Story
How do we take this hill? Again, we apply the principle of asking better questions to not only arrive at better answers but also better decisions. Here is one question to ask; do I want to relive the same story I saw growing up or do I want to live to tell a different and better story? When we relive the same stories we become statistics. But when we choose to live to tell a better story we become game-changers.
Final Thought: One thing is certain. Great places await as you take the hill and climb your mountain. With that in mind, do you see that hill in front of you? Set your face like a flint and take the hill.
Keep on keeping on.