Recently my family went on a mini-vacation to Palm Desert. We were only gone for two days, but we managed to pack a lot into 48-hours, including climbing the San Jacinto peak, the second highest mountain in southern California. It took us three hours to get to the top of the 10,800 foot peak, aided by a tram that took us to the mountain’s ranger cabin over 8,000 feet up the mountain.
A six mile trail hike up the final 2000 feet to the very top of the peak was ours to climb and it was the longest six mile trek of my life. I was tired, sore, and wearing shoes more fitted for a skateboarder than a mountain goat. The three hour ascent was a very long three hours indeed.
Once we summited, the journey was worth it. We looked around at the incredible view from the top of the mountain, a view that the famous naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club, John Muir, once wrote was “the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth.” Muir was right. Standing on top of the granite peak, we saw the desert floor spread out far below us on all sides and the ground 10,834 feet away; everything seemed so small and insignificant from our vantage point on the mountaintop.
I won’t lie. The journey up the mountain was difficult. Although now a cliché, the metaphor of climbing a mountain and the reward that follows it is very important- I don’t know if I would have taken on the hike if I did not expect to feel a sense of achievement. I get enough exercise as it is. No, I climbed the mountain for the accomplishment of doing something hard. The view was the reward. This perspective works well for everyday life.
Do you ever give yourself a reward for doing something difficult? A reward can transform a difficult task into something worthwhile. If you’re forcing yourself to go to the gym transform it into a task you enjoy. Transform a difficult day at the office into something special. The reward doesn’t have to be extravagant; it can be as simple as a 20-minute soak in your own private hot tub after work. Keep track of your accomplishments. Look at what you’ve completed each week, and even if it’s as basic as conquering a spreadsheet at work, be proud of it. Be proud of your spouse’s triumphs and your children’s successes too. Gaze down the mountain you’ve climbed, see how far you’ve come and what you’ve done. Be proud.