When Should I Stop Climbing?

My cousin and I, we climbed to the top of Kendall Peak- all 4.5 miles in the snow to the alpine lakes. It was a winter wonderland. Magical. And we almost didn’t do it. We almost stopped climbing. But we made it. Then we went down the 4.5 miles back to the trailhead.

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves whether it is time to stop climbing. It’s a challenging and difficult question. On one hand our goal was the summit but on the other hand the first 1.7 miles may have been just enough.

Life is like this too. We have to make a decision of when it is time to stop climbing. To rest. To be confident that we accomplished what we were supposed to accomplish. I have a hard time with this.

An interesting part about climbing a mountain is that as you go up other people are coming down. They tell you stories about their experience, offer advice of how far you have to go, and they encourage you on your journey. “You’re close” they will say. And for the moment you think “I got this”. They say I can do it.  But then as you climb you realize “close” to them could be really far to you. Because how far you have come and how much further you have to go is all relative. And climbing uphill looks and feels different than coming down. And your different than them. Maybe they know the distance but they don’t know what kind of energy, grit, or mind power it took for you to get to that spot in the moment you crossed paths and conversed with them.

We climbed to the top. It was magical. But did we need to? Could we have experienced the same level of magic at the first look out point at 1.7 miles?

In my career as a school counselor, I have always shot for the top. My goal-digger and can do mentality means that turning around before I reach the top is not an option. I mean I went for my Phd. Everything is gold standard. But what I am realizing as I grow in this profession is that shooting for the top or the ultimate result is not always efficient nor effective. In my climb to the top of Kendall Peak I felt great. What I didn’t anticipate is how it affected me that night or the next day. I was on an emotional high but my body was so sore, especially in the calves, that I was limited in my evening that night with the plans I had with my boyfriend and in the plans I had the next day (although my goal digger self still made it to the gym the next day). Could I have encountered the same emotional high yet saved my calves and body fatigue by turning around earlier?

As a school counselor, if I exert all my energy on one student or one program will I have enough for the others? When do I put a project to a stop and say it is good enough? When do I tell myself that the support and services I offered a student or a family is good enough? When do I say no because if I say yes it will take away from what I have already committed to? Climbing to the top can become a hinderance in the work that I do.

I think a lot about this in my career as a school counselor. I loved making it to the top of Kendall Peak, but I continue to question the appropriate time to stop climbing and the best time to continue to the top. Again, at what point can I put my hands up and say “good enough”?

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