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5 Career Reminders for Your Journey to the Top

career advice Mar 24, 2024

I needed a little bit of a reset, so I set off a few hiking trails with nothing but my thoughts and the sounds of nature to entertain me.

Admittedly, it took about 45 minutes to settle into the peaceful Zen of being outdoors. I wanted to attack the first hike the same way I dive into a lengthy to-do list. Once I surrendered to the feeling of curiosity and stopped checking the time, my thoughts slowed, my breathing deepened and I enjoyed the  journey. I hiked more than 30 miles during a three-day span. It was a way for me to unplug and get away from work, but I couldn’t help but think of the similarities between every journey to the top. It doesn’t matter if you’re climbing a mountain or taking the next step in your career. Here are the reminders I came back to multiple times on the trails.

Uncertainty still exists even with a clearly marked path. How many times have you wanted a clearly marked career path, or thought you had one, only to be surprised by twists and turns? Take heart, be encouraged – it’s normal. Every mile I hiked was on a clearly marked trail. There was no chance of getting lost or not ending up at my destination. And yet there were a number of times I had no idea where the path was going until the next step was right in front of me. It took finding a clearing, getting around a clump of bushes or away from the cactus to see where the path was going. Uncertainty doesn't mean you're on the wrong path.

Stop to say “Wow” on occasion. There’s more than one spectacular view. Sure, you want to take in the view from the top of the mountain, but the lookout points along the way are equally as awe-inspiring. Don’t forget to look for those same points throughout your career climb. Marvel at what you’ve accomplished, what you’ve learned, where you’re going and the experiences you get to have.

Go at your own pace. I encountered speedy trail runners and 80-year-olds steadily making their way along the hiking trails. No one was jockeying for position. There was room for everyone to go at their own speed. Your path and your career will unfold at the speed that works for you. Don’t worry about everyone else. Just stay on the path.

You’ve already been training for this. I hike when it’s available. It’s not something I train for. I do, however, train with the goal of being strong and maintaining functional movement. I hesitated briefly at trails marked intermediate or difficult knowing I’m not an actual hiker but my workouts prepared me for everything I encountered on the path. When it comes to your career path, don’t stop yourself or hit pause thinking you’re not prepared. Everything you’ve done up to this point has helped you train for the skills you need next.

Save some energy for the downhill hike. It's not smooth sailing on the downhill side. Momentum is not your friend when your legs feel like jelly. My legs burned more as I huffed and puffed toward the top of the mountain, but the downhill climb still required stamina and energy as I navigated steep and sometimes rocky paths. Pace yourself when working towards goals. Save some stamina and drive for what happens after you reach the mountain top so you can navigate what comes next.

Lastly, remember you’re already doing the thing. The trail might not be what you expected. You might get a late jump on getting out of the house or feel slower and more fatigued one day compared to another. It doesn’t matter. It’s all part of the journey and you’re already doing the thing. Just stay on the path and keep going.


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