When people face a mountain, often unexpectedly, their response is to try to immediately head for the summit and fix things. They can panic and try to somehow return life to normal and that usually isn’t possible, at least not right away.
On our cancer journey, we learned six important questions to stop and ask before you go too far up the mountain, perhaps prior to even arriving at your trail head. It can also help to have another person or two there with you to be a listening ear and clarifying presence, someone less emotionally tied to your situation.
Six questions . . .
What exactly is my mountain? Be specific. Don’t say things like, “Well, I have some sort of cancer or the counselor says I’m depressed, but it’s more like I’m just a little down lately.” No, name it, look it in the eye. It’s what it is.
How big is it? Cancer is described by stages. Name it. Financial debt can be described in dollars. Total it. Relationships have various descriptors that need to be addressed honestly. Admit it. You won’t commit enough time or passion to your climb unless you know what you’re up against.
What are the potential implications? Could someone die? Will there be a divorce and children involved? Is is possible to lose the house?
What was your role in it, if any? Lots of things happen to us and cause mountains that we didn’t cause. But if you lost your job because you were fired and made some very bad choices, you need to face that as part of getting past your mountain. Again, it’s what it is and can help make sure you deal with how to change as part of your successes.
What are the potential dangers? Just like on a mountain of granite, there are risks and potential problems in personal challenges. Discuss those so you can be sure to look out for them during your trek: health reactions, returning to an addiction, spending money you don’t have, relationships that interfere . . . you hopefully get the idea.
What are your resources? Whatever you do, don’t skip this one because your answers here will be part of your lifelines. What finances, friends, experts, confidantes and other fellow travelers will you have at your disposal? Chances are you have more resources than you thought you did. Review them and be thankful.
So, slow down. Think carefully through your answers to each question. They’re important and will make you than much more ready to tackle the Mt. Everest facing you.
[There are other insights on this topic and more in my Never Quit Climbing book available at Amazon.com.]