Are you at the top of your mountain?

mountainreflectionI have to admit that I’ve felt overwhelmed by the flurry of goal-setting blog posts, announcements, and what have you as we’ve begun the new year. In fact, I’ve entered the new year in a bit of burnout.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve realized why.

I am in a season of needing to reflect on what I’ve accomplished over the past couple of years — to really take it in, acknowledge it, and absorb it a bit before I can move forward into a new season of envisioning fresh goals and horizons for myself.

And when I’m in a “reflective, introspective” season of my life, it can be difficult to rub up against a lot of “doing” energy. The energy doesn’t match my quieter, “being” energy, and it can also trigger quite a bit of “compare and despair” in me (“I should be doing more,” “I’ll never get to where he/she is,” etc.).

Back when I went through life coach training, my mentor Martha BeckΒ often shared these words from The Buddha with us: “Just as you can tell it’s the ocean because it tastes of salt, you know it’s enlightenment because it tastes of freedom.”

My truth, my piece of enlightenment, for the moment, is that I’ve reached the top of my personal mountain and I need to sit here on a rock and take in the view.

And I realize, too, that I in fact needed to sit down and take in the view quite a while ago.

But I didn’t let myself.

I kept on pushing and goal-setting — even though I know all too well that “push” energy is not effective for me either in the short or long run — and now I am tired.

When we climb a mountain, we need to acknowledge it when we get to the top. We need to appreciate the gorgeousness of the view we’ve got from here. We need to acknowledge and integrate what we learned on the way up, at least for a while, before we start climbing again.

What we don’t need to do is immediately scan the landscape for an even higher mountain and decide it’s time to climb that one — right now. This is the way we get into burnout. This is the way we lose touch with ourselves, with our own inner compass which is specific to our journey, and not anyone else’s.

We live in a culture that believes busy is good. Doing is good. More goals, and pushing, and striving, are good.

I think goals are terrific, and necessary — but we are not always in “goal-setting season.” Sometimes we’re in “view-appreciating season.”

Here are some signs that we may not be in our personal “goal-setting season” and in fact may need to shift into our version of “view-appreciating.”

* The thought of doing anything “big” creates a feeling of instant exhaustion.

* We’re having trouble concentrating for more than a few minutes at a time.

* We notice that our “social self” — the self that cares a lot about what other people think — is chattering so much that our essential self is having a hard time getting a word in edgewise.

* We take lots of actions but they don’t seem to have much resonance for us. They don’t feel good or satisfying.

So, how can we appreciate (and really take in) the view we’ve arrived at?

* Think back on the accomplishments that truly pleased or delighted you that got you to where you are. Write them down or share them with someone. Writing them down and/or sharing them makes them more real. (And notice any tendency in yourself to downplay your accomplishments or compare them to someone else’s. This, too, contributes to burnout!)

* Commit to crossing the non-essentials off your to-do list for an entire week, or a month, or however long feels good to you.

* Acknowledge the person you were before you climbed this mountain, and notice the differences in yourself now that you’re at the top. Is there anything you let go of on the way up? A part of you? A job? A lifestyle? A way of being or doing? It’s important to acknowledge how we’ve changed so we can move forward from who we are now, not who we used to be!

* What are the “shoulds” that have been coming up for you? Are they based on what you really want — given who you are now — or are they based on the person you were before you reached the top of this mountain?

Are you at the top of your personal mountain? If you’ve been on a journey, have you really acknowledged what you’ve accomplished and let it sink in? I’d love to hear from you.

Image is “Snowy Reflection”Β Β© Martin Brown | Dreamstime Stock Photos

8 thoughts on “Are you at the top of your mountain?

  1. Oh. My. Goodness.
    I love this post, because it pretty much exactly describes where I am right now. Snap.
    You are so very wise, Jill. Thank you.

    I am right now sitting on top of my mountain, suffering from most of the symptoms you describe, barely able to push myself to do anything other than languish on the sofa (or in bed) and read novels.

    I didn’t post on my blog for two weeks in the lead up to the new year because I was so damn tired, and although I managed to squeeze out a 2014 reflection post, I haven’t come near contemplating 2015. The thought of writing my annual new year outlook post has me ducking and weaving.

    Exactly as you suggest, I’ve been reflecting, slowly trying to ramp up to a position from which I can do some work, waiting until I get an influx of emotional energy… or inspiration… or something.

    I hope you enjoy the view from your mountain. πŸ™‚


    • Ellen, I’m so glad this spoke to you, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone in entering a new year with a feeling of just not wanting to do another thing! I really do believe that just as our creativity ebbs and flows, we ebb and flow as humans in our energy levels, in our doing and being. And I notice that the more fully I can allow myself downtime, the sooner I’m ready to get into “doing” energy again. Thanks so much for sharing. Wishing you a replenishing start to the year, not necessarily a “productive” one! πŸ™‚

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  2. Oh, Jill, you are SO wise! And I know you’re young, too, so you must be an old soul. This is such an important post, but then I don’t think I ever read one of yours that I don’t think, “this is such an important post.” We don’t do enough appreciating the view here in the West. And you are so right. This does lead to burnout. Thank you again for putting into words what I so need to hear right at the moment I need it.


    • Mary, it’s so true — we’re just not taught to appreciate the view in Western culture. I hope this will (is) changing for future generations. It’s vital. In fact, the earth demands it. Our survival requires it. Thank you so much for reading, I always love getting a comment from you. πŸ™‚


  3. What a timely post! I’ve been struggling with this very issue for the last couple weeks. At age 57, my body and soul are telling me to slow down. I was taught early on that doing nothing meant you were lazy. I spent a lifetime staying busy just to escape the “lazy” label. I did for everyone except myself and now I question who I am at this point in my life. I’m so ready to kick back and enjoy the view! Thanks for the beautiful and very wise reminder that it’s okay!


    • I really hear you, Kim. I was given that same message growing up, that taking time to “just be” was a sign of laziness. I stayed busy for years just so others would approve of me! So glad this post resonated for you and good for you for listening to your soul’s urgings and giving yourself permission to enjoy your view! Thanks so much for sharing. πŸ™‚


  4. It is said that the universe places a message on your doorstep when you need it the most. So, for that, I thank you πŸ™‚ I think I am in the same boat as you – feeling overwhelmed with needing to do more, or at least move on to the next big thing. However, what I need right now is indeed a time of reflection and introspection.

    It is liberating to hear from another like-minded individual that we don’t need to be following along with the rest of the rat race that is being run around us. I know that it’s perhaps common sense that we need to pause, relax, and reflect. But, common sense is not always common practice.

    The story I just finished compiling was a month and half long endeavor – probably the longest single writing project that I have undertaken to date. I was immersed in the lives of my characters so deep that I don’t think that I am quite ready to extract myself from their lives so abruptly. Like you, I need to absorb everything that the past month and a half has presented to me without feeling the need to move on just yet.

    Thank you for such wise and inspiring words, I truly appreciate your insights πŸ™‚


    • Dave, your wonderful story IS a huge accomplishment, and it makes sense that you’d need a little time in coming out of that state. When I read or write a story, I usually want to linger with the characters and the feeling it gives me for a while before moving on. The world can really make it tricky to honor that! We need to be our own leaders in that sense. I really appreciate you sharing how this resonated for you, and I’m so glad it did! πŸ™‚

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