I had an epiphany this week. It happened while I was hiking up a mountain. The back story is I accompanied my daughter out to California where she’ll be spending her final semester interning in LA. This was a hard journey to make because it is a reminder she is almost fully out of the nest. If you’re a mom and you’ve been through this phase of parenting, you get it.
I was determined to be fully present for this journey. I wouldn’t deny my sadness that she would now be almost 3000 miles away, but I would keep coming back to the present and stay focused on supporting her, using the time remaining to enjoy being together. We also had a lot of logistics to handle and I welcomed the distraction.
We spent the first three days getting her settled in. On the fourth day, my daughter was booked with orientation, and my schedule was wide open. Typically any time I’m in LA I’m booked up with meetings or in production, but this time I wanted to focus on her and not schedule much. So on the fourth day, I decided to do something I’ve always wanted to do: Hike up the trail leading to the Griffith Observatory. I didn’t know much about the trail other than there was a starting point near a little cafe that had been there since the late 1800s. I had never even been to Griffith Park.
As I was getting ready, I could feel the resistance come up. I was already missing my kid, I was regretting I hadn’t set up meetings, or called friends to connect, and I was rethinking the whole notion of hiking by myself. So I did what I always do when I’m resisting something: I bargained. I decided I could just drive there and see what it’s like. I didn’t have to do the hike and no one was forcing this adventure. I find that bargaining is a good way to quiet the control freak in me and the stubborn part of me who doesn’t like being told what to do. I get this sounds a little nuts because literally NO ONE was telling me what to do. I had just declared this was something I wanted to do. All of this self-talk occurred before I even got in the car.
When I arrived, I was still bargaining. OK, I’ll get some breakfast at the cafe and see how I feel. The park is beautiful. I ate at a picnic table and stared at the trail. When I finished breakfast, I walked closer to the trail and could see the top of the Observatory. This did NOT look like a short walk. The observatory sits as high as the Hollywood sign (which is pretty darn high up the mountain). The trail leading up to it is a collection of twists and turns. I saw a few very athletic looking people heading toward the trail. I started walking. And that’s when the epiphany hit me. This is exactly how I began my weight loss journey. Resistance. Bargaining. Curiosity. Go. One step at a time, managing my reactive mind.
As I walked I began to think about the motivating factors that get me back into alignment with my vision. I thought about the times when I quit, throwing up my hands, and all the self-talk aimed at talking me out of doing something new or different or committing to anything that feels uncomfortable or risky.
If you are thinking about stepping into, or resuming, this journey, here are 5 Steps to help you when you’re feeling resistant.
#1. Ditch The All Or Nothing Approach.
When I started out on that mountain trail, I wasn’t committed to finishing. In fact, there was a chorus in my head saying I’d walk a little bit of the way and probably turn around. So I simply agreed to start walking and see what happens. Thinking about the whole mountain was too overwhelming. You can ease into the challenge. It doesn’t need to be a pass or fail proposition. If you go off your plan, don’t ditch the plan. The next moment is right around the corner. Acknowledge the setback and resume. As long as I didn’t turn around on that trail, there was still hope I could get there. The only time failure is a sure thing is when you stop. Do what you need to do to stay on the mountain.
#2. Let Go Of Future Thinking.
The present moment is the only place we have power and influence. As I walked up the trail, what kept me going was to focus on the next step. When my thoughts turned to how far away I was from the top, or how hard this was, my energy shifted and the negative thoughts poured in. To quiet the mind, take small bites and stay focused on what you can do right now. The future will take care of itself.
#3. Release Time.
Goals tied to a timeline can be helpful for accountability but can also lead to moments of beating yourself up. Whether you lose 50 pounds in a year or four years, how much will that matter in four years? When we set a weight loss goal tied to a date and we fail to achieve it by that date, it can lead to a lot of negative energy. When you release time, you are more apt to focus on NOW. When you begin to trust that your actions in the present are having a cumulative effect, you build confidence which will fuel you forward much more than hitting a date on the calendar. While hiking up the mountain, I didn’t make it about how fast I would get there. I stopped when I needed to stop. I took time to catch my breathe, to stand in the shade and take in how far I had already come. Appreciating even the small milestones reinforces the energy you need to keep going.
Trust that moving at your own pace is the right amount of time. Time is simply a construct in our brain. We do not reach goals because of time, we reach goals by doing the next right action. Those who run marathons are not focused on the clock. They focus on what is in front of them and have faith they will get to the finish line.
#4. Stop Comparing.
Your journey is YOUR journey. If you are spending time judging and comparing, you are taking your eyes off the ball. There will always be fatter and thinner people. There will always be richer or less fortunate. Letting go of judgments, jealousy and resentment lightens your spirit. Celebrate the wins for others. Embrace where you are right now. Everything else is wasted energy.
While it may sound cliche, there truly is only one you and your journey is unique. Your experience and your history are unique. If you begin to see through the lens of acceptance rather than comparing and judging, it frees you from the past and lifts you up. When I was almost to the top of the mountain, I saw a guy run past me. SEVERAL people passed me because I was taking breaks along the way. Instead of beating myself up about how slow I was or how they were in better shape than I was, I surrendered to thinking about it differently. I was on the mountain. I was going to get there. I silently wished them well, took another deep breath, and kept going.
#5. Focus on the Wins.
At the end of each day, take a few minutes to reflect on what went right. Even if you completely went off the rails, take time to find something positive. When we focus on what’s working, there is an energy shift. The shift is what will keep you coming back. No one wants to be doing something that makes them feel like a failure. Make your journey one that lifts you up.
That day on the mountain, there was a lot bubbling up. There was sadness about leaving my daughter in California, there was sadness about wanting to be in better shape, there was anger at the hot sun, there was a litany of memories of all the times I quit, all of the failures. There was a moment before reaching the top when I felt totally present, focused on the next rise and the next. Suddenly, the top of the dome appeared, and I was within striking distance.
The view was more beautiful than I imagined.
The hike helped me to feel more aligned. It reminded me why I should never give up. The solitude gave me perspective. I went outside my comfort zone, pushed through the uncomfortable moments and felt transformed.
I’m still feeling the sadness of leaving my kid in Cali. Allowing myself to feel it without avoiding it is helping it to heal. She is doing great. And so am I.
You deserve to feel great and have all that you desire. Be curious. See what begins to happen when you simply put your attention on the next right action.