I stood alone at the base of the granite rock face. I’d hiked over 1,000 miles, but nothing I’d encountered was as challenging as the trail in Maine. I was more than a little afraid. If I was going to climb over this rock, then I would have to do it on my own.
I had come this far and I wasn’t going back. I took a breath, cinched my pack straps and folded my poles. Now, I could use my hands. I climbed forward, one foot at a time. I grabbed for roots when I could and I trusted my shoe wouldn’t slip on the tiny ledge of rock. Little by little I climbed, up and down, over and over. Twenty days later, I made it. I stood atop Mt. Katahdin, the highest point in Maine.
I had no choice but to pull myself out of my fear. Each time I find myself stuck in a scary place, I go back to that moment to rediscover how I can learn and grow.
Start with one small step. Let yourself make the smallest step you can. Confidence grows by taking action. Small steps over time add up. Once you’re moving you can make adjustments to your path.
Review your successes. Find the part of your problem that looks like something you’ve tackled before. When I gazed up that steep rock in Maine, I realized I had already learned everything I needed to know. I had climbed every mountain on the AT since I began the trail. Recognize how your accomplishments have given you the skills you need for your new challenge.
Widen your perspective. Back up and see the big picture. Whenever I reached a viewpoint on the trail, I stopped to see how far I’d come. Three summits away, I could see where I had breakfast. Step back from your project for a broader view. Even better, go for a walk to clear your head.
Envision the completion. Take a few minutes each day to envision everything working out perfectly. Be detailed and specific. Add in sights, sounds, smells, color and emotion. Relish the feeling of success. I pictured standing at that Katahdin sign many times when I was still huddled in my tent miles and miles away. Allow yourself to savor the moment. Then get back to your journey.
Gather your allies. Ask for help from those who know you best. They’ll remind you why you’re meant to achieve the goals you’ve set. The support I received via letters, calls and Facebook messages from friends and family during my 2,000 mile journey was invaluable. Your friends and allies will give you energy and renew your hope. They see your capabilities and believe in you.
When you’re facing a challenge, know your fear will not disappear. Once you realize this truth, you will be free to move forward and accomplish your goals. Georgia O’Keefe said it best:
“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.”