It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. We’ve heard it before, ya? Well, in 2013 I finally stopped hearing that phrase and starting living it. I had to embrace the climb up my own metaphorical mountain and try to discover what I was going to do after shutting down my first business. I couldn’t snap my fingers and have a new business appear out of thin air, I had to create it myself.
Interestingly enough, at the same time, my wife started a similar trek of her own. She went from working for my first business (which, as I mentioned, shut down) to starting a design and branding company. And, believe it or not, I also helped my Mom jump head-first into the world of entrepreneurship that year. Oh, and there were also the people I was emailing with, talking to on social media, and having phone calls with who wanted my advice on their own businesses.
2013 was quite a year for business-climbs!
The Climb (Or The Journey) Is Uncomfortable
Just like actual rock/mountain climbing, the mental battles you face when starting a new business or make a big change are mentally taxing. You can easily psyche yourself out before you strap on your climbing shoes or flip open your laptop.
I remember back in 2013 I dreamt of someone handing me a successful business on a nice silver platter. A veritable money-making-machine that was humming along that I could simply enjoy. But alas, those machines* don’t exist. And last time I checked, there isn’t an elevator at the bottom of Mount Everest.
Part of any new adventure is fighting the mental battles that rage in our minds
Thoughts of self-doubt and imposter syndrome will run rampant. I remember thinking to myself: “Jason, you failed at your last business, you’re going to fail at your next one.” But I quickly acknowledged that was just fear talking. My mind was trying to avoid the discomfort and pain I’d experienced previously.
The way to combat those fears and thoughts? Take one small step toward the obstacle you’re going to climb. Accomplish one minuscule task on your to-do list.
Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art is a must-read if you’re experiencing fear and self-doubt. Here’s a quote from the book I love:
“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
Resistance is real, especially when you’re staring a big climb in the face. Acknowledge that exists and understand it’s a necessary part of the process toward accomplishing anything worth doing.
If you don’t enjoy the challenge of the climb, you’ll never stick with it
Part of what got me through my journey in 2013 was appreciating the opportunity to be on that journey at all. I refused to get a “normal” job working for someone else and even though I had to go into debt to build my next business, it was a challenge I wanted to take on.
One exercise that helped me start to embrace my climb was to reframe it completely. Instead of thinking I was starting a new business and that it had to succeed immediately, I told myself I could have a year of experimentation. That simple reframing changed my entire perspective and helped me enjoy the difficult journey I had set out on.
Do you enjoy trying new things and learning from your inevitable mistakes? Do you like the thrill and excitement of reaching for the next hand or foothold?
Ask yourself if you actually appreciate the process it takes to get where you want to go.
Because if you don’t, your journey is going to suck and you’re going to quit.
The Climb Gets Easier When You Appreciate The Small Victories
Take your journey step by step, but try to be more mindful and appreciative of the work you’re putting in. With each day you should try to take a deep breath and enjoy a small victory (or learn from a failure). With each week you can reflect on how you dominated your to-do items. Compare your months as your journey goes on and find small wins to celebrate. Count up those completed boulders, rock faces, and mountains, and enjoy your accomplishments.
Mindfulness never came naturally to me, but that’s because it’s not a natural thought process. It’s in our DNA to constantly be searching for comfort and our next meal. While those things come much easier to most of us these days, being mindful of our small business victories does not.
Like a rock climber scaling a large rock, enjoy the little nuances along the way.
There will be times when it will be hard to find a place to put your hands and feet (I do know this from my very short rock climbing experience). There will be subtle details of the rock face you notice on the way up, especially when it’s 2 inches from your face. Your goal is to get to the top of the rock, but don’t miss out on all the fun, challenges, and effort that lead to achieving your goal.
Whether it’s working on your business or doing some actual climbing, take a moment to enjoy your daily adventures. The finish line will be there waiting for you, embrace the climb it takes to get you there.