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THE TOP IS NOT THE END

By Kalyanasundaram Divya
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The air got thinner and my body began to slow down. Our approach route to the top of the mountain was slow and tedious. We passed the great glaciers to our right and even in the darkness of the night I could sense the tranquility of their seductive peril. Only in nature can you find a danger that is welcoming.

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Despite falling, despite having to overcome massive sunburn, despite not being able to eat anything for 12 hours, despite having to climb in the stillness of the night I enjoyed it. Except, the curious thing was that the actual summit wasn’t that impressive to me.

I reached the top and got a little nauseous from the altitude but I wanted to just turn around and go back. It was generally unimpressive. I appreciated the accomplishment of reaching the summit but hanging out there seemed like a waste of time. I couldn’t see the beauty I had seen on the way up, there were no more challenges so I got bored. I was in limbo.

That brings me to my most important lesson from Mt. Rainier. The top is not the end.

I set new goals for myself every 90 days. I hit a fair amount of these goals and every time, I reflect back and I realize that the journey was much better than actual goal.

The lessons are fun. There is wisdom in the lessons but obtaining the outcome is just icing. It is immediate gratification and fades fast.

When most people reach a goal they celebrate it but then go back and do the same exact thing. Over time, this forces them into a rut. They begin to vacation in the same spots. They get the same bonus at work. They can anticipate their outcomes which is safe. We instinctively want what is safe but it stops you from growing.

Imagine this scenario: what if I climbed Rainier again? Would it be hard? Sure, it is a huge mountian. BUT the more important questions is, would I grow from the experience?

The answer is no.

The top of the mountain was unimpressive because I am programmed to set new outcomes. I like to take all the clues I leave myself on my journeys and use them for a new challenge.

That is the key to happiness in my opinion.

What if I took my wife on the same date night every single week? I am paying attention to her. I am appreciating her but it is boring. Let’s be honest, the zest you get from new challenges and experiences cannot be topped.

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It is a bold statement, ” the key to happiness” but I see so many stalemates in life due to our inability to continually challenge ourselves.

We get comfortable at work. At home. In our routines and one day we wake up and life is half over and we haven’t even done half the stuff on our bucket list!

OR

we lose our identities. I always hear stories about the fun people had when they were “young” but now they can’t do that stuff when they are “old.”

That might be the most preposterous development in our culture. Of course, you probably shouldn’t be drinking at the bars and ripping road signs off the pole but challenges can change! It is that reminiscent mindset of a part of yourself that you perceive to have come and gone that creates an identity crisis.

Perhaps getting in shape is your first challenge. Maybe you move to a mud run (most common lately). Then most people stop there. They REPEAT.

Here is the secret. There is never an end.

Have you ever run a mud race and then stopped seeing results from that point? Standstill?

Have you ever been bored in the bedroom?

Have you ever zoned out at work because the job is no longer challenging?

Have you ever gone to the same vacation spot as a reward for the same bonus at work?

I am not saying these things aren’t fun. don’t get me wrong. Any vacation is fun. Any sex is fun. Mud races are fun anytime.

My point is that the satisfaction goes down. The fulfillment goes down. There is no longer a challenge which is sad because the possibilities are endless.

Here is a chart to compare your approach to your goals in life to:

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The only way to obtain anything in life is to make the decision to get it. Then you have to put in the work. Very few things, if any are achieved without hard work and they certainly won’t be sustainable without it. Once you reach that goal appreciate it and then SET A NEW ONE.

The top of the mountain is not the end because challenges change you and the new you needs a new challenge.