The Year I Challenged Myself: Lessons Learned from Climbing a Mountain

Mar 09, 2023
Emily Chadbourne Blog Lessons Learned from Climbing a Mountain

When the clock struck midnight and the year 2023 officially kicked in, I, like everyone else, reflected on 2022. And for me it felt, meh!

Objectively, I’d had a great year. 

Business was going well. I’d travelled extensively, visiting 7 countries with some of my favourite people. My wonderful friendships had only grown in strength and have you met my dog? Because he just gets more awesome with every passing day. Nice house, great health, nothing to complain about. 

But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing something. It felt like everything I’d done fell into the KNOWN and therefore SAFE category. Sure it was fun but it wasn’t exhilarating. It didn’t challenge me.

So at 00:05 I made myself a promise as I gathered my coat to leave (because I am actually Cinderella and can’t stay up later than midnight) that 2023 would be the year I pushed myself to do… different.

Enter Mel, my PT and lover of adventure.

Since 2021, Mel had been on at me about joining her for a hike up Mount Feathertop (the second highest mountain in Victoria I’ll have you know). And every single time she asked, I had a reason not to. Sometimes that reason was brunch. Hardly valid but an excuse nonetheless. 

When she asked again (she’s persistent) in early January, I still didn’t want to say YES. 

Drive 4 hours to stay in a cabin with a bunch of people I didn’t know, sleep in a bunk bed only to wake up at 5am to have my fitness and stamina tested by climbing a mountain? Nah, I’m good thanks.

But I said “yes” anyway.

And that about catches you up on the background of this story.

Shall we?

So here I am, on a road trip with my PT to meet half a dozen strangers with whom I will sweat, huff, puff and scramble up the second tallest mountain in Victoria.

And here are the things that I learnt alongside these humans up Mount Feathertop.

1. Mostly, the things we worry about don’t ever happen.

I am a people person but the idea of spending 48 hours with a bunch of people I didn't know in uncertain and uncomfortable conditions was daunting for me.

What if no one liked me

What if everyone else was fitter, stronger and faster than me?

What if I got left behind?

What if no one talked to me?

Of course the moment I arrived, everyone was awesome. We operated as a team, encouraged and supported each other, shared snacks, took selfies, bonded and no one took themselves too seriously. People are nice.

2. Your social network can only grow if you’re willing to be around people you wouldn’t normally speak to.

I have a wide friendship group and it’s easy (and comfortable) for me to socialise with people I know all the time. But being thrown together with people I didn’t know exposed me to new conversations, different points of view and has created a more connected network for me.

Also no one had heard my stories! Move over rover, I was suddenly interesting!

3. You’re almost definitely underestimating yourself.

You will be amazed at what you can tolerate when you need to.

Honestly, the trek didn’t tax me that much but that last 2 hours wasn’t fun. If I could’ve I would’ve flagged down a chopper! But alas, there was no helicopter, chairlift, zip line or donkey. There was no choice but to power on. So I did. If I’d had the opportunity I might have quit. But that wasn’t an option so I found out what I was capable of. 

4. Nature is brilliant.

But there is a limit to how many times you can sing “climb every mountain” like Julie Andrews before people want to hit you.

5. Your life will only be as fulfilling as you allow it to be.

I can’t believe I said no to climbing a mountain so many times. I chose predictable, safe, known and comfortable so often that life became … dull. Lovely yes, but God how many brunches with the same people in the same places can one have before it becomes mundane? We have to create excitement and adventure. We have to push our horizons by doing different so we can find out more about ourselves and the world we live in.

Life passes so quickly. Climb the mountain.

My overriding tale away from last weekend was this - you are the architect of your own life. If you want more excitement, connection, expansion, fun and growth then doing the same thing isn’t going to cut it.

Be intentional with your time and don’t believe your own BS. Brunch is not a good enough reason to say no to climbing a mountain!





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