How tall is your mountain?
Rock climbing is a fun and motivating activity. It takes both physical and mental strength to be able to climb a rock face. First, you need the right gear, a few classes, and a couple of peers and mentors to teach and motivate you. Next, start looking around for some mountains to climb. Choose some easy climbs to start out with that give you some quick wins and after you have your technique down, move on to bigger and more challenging routes. As you climb up a mountain you will reach little ridges and plateaus where you can rest and plan your next move. Looking up, you see how far you have left to climb until you reach the summit.
It is fairly easy to make the analogy between climbing a mountain and progressing through your career. For starters, you need to ask yourself if you are even climbing the right mountain. If you are working in a dead end job, or in a job that is not allowing you to work to your full potential, then you need to find one that you will enjoy doing. Once you are working in a career that you want (job = short term plan, career = long term plan) then you want to start focusing on climbing your mountain, but the question that doesn’t get asked is “How tall is your mountain?”
It’s pretty easy to get complacent in this life. There are so many routines that we can get lulled into, and we even encourage ourselves to do so. “OK, Monday is Trivia night at the bar, Tuesday and Thursday is hockey practice for the kids, Wednesday is pork chop night, Friday is board game night at the neighbor’s, Saturday is play practice and Sunday is church and volunteering.” The trouble is that we get so tied up in our routines that we forget that we’re climbing a mountain. Then you wake up one day, realize that five years have passed and three of your co-workers have gotten promoted past you. The challenge with life is that you are actually climbing a few mountains at once. Your mountains might be named friends, family, personal life and professional life. Trying to spend enough time with your family and friends when you’re not working can be hard enough, but there is still the task of growing your professional life. I believe that there is something new for every employee to learn at every stage of their professional career.
Focusing on how your climb your mountain is the key. How fast do you want to go, do you want to take a few more classes before you start, and once again, are you even climbing the right mountain?
--- Life is too short to be working at a job that you don’t enjoy. Unless you are using that job to accomplish a goal like paying off debt or gaining a skill, get out now.---
The problem that I have seen with many people is that they start out climbing really well, but after a couple of years, they slow down and eventually stop. It might be laziness, it might be motivation, or they might just lack a goal, but then they see their friends and coworkers getting paid more, working less and traveling. It turns out that they need to keep on climbing.
Now I’m not using the summit to symbolize reaching the top of the corporate ladder, it is simply serving as a marker for the point when you are completely happy with where you are in life and work. As you’re climbing, you should be looking at the course ahead of you and planning on how you’re going to get to that next goal, that next landmark. Maybe it’s a promotion; maybe it’s just learning a new skill. The key is to always be looking for that next hand hold to get you closer, that next foot hold to help raise you up to the next level.