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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« Why Do I Love Helping People Get Organized? | How to Work the Motivation Pendulum to Your Advantage »

How to Climb Mountains to Boost Your Motivation

As I’m just back from our summer vacation in Maine, I have to admit that my motivation to jump into regular activities (like writing and working on the next projects) hasn’t quite kicked in yet. Vacation mode of waking up without an alarm, wearing no watch, spending uninterrupted time with my family, and exploring new places continues to permeate my heart and mind.

I don’t know about you, but I like to give myself one full day post-vacation to unpack, do laundry, return calls, go through snail mail and email before resuming my normal pace. As I settle in to write this post, I have a vacation motivation experience I’d like to share with you.

I wouldn’t describe myself as athletic.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy a long walk, swimming or an occasional bike ride, but you won’t find me actively engaged in sports. I prefer gentle exercise and stretching.

Mohegan Island

During this vacation, there was a lot of exploring. We walked all over. Maine is such a gorgeous place with beautiful seascapes, rocky shores, and wonderfully lush terrain. For those that love to hike, it’s a paradise. Before our children joined us mid-week, my husband and I took an easy hike to the top of Monhegan Island. What a gorgeous, magical place. No cars are allowed on the island. It’s quiet and peaceful with an abundance of wildflowers gracing the hills. If you ever have a chance to travel there, which involves a ferry ride, definitely go.


While I was huffing and puffing a little bit, I made it to the top of the cliff. We sat and enjoyed our lunch. There were amazing views several hundred feet above sea level of blue sky above and water crashing against the shore below. The sun was bright. Sounds of rushing waves and seagulls squawking could be heard. One seagull decided to accompany us for lunch as we sat on the cliff’s edge. I think he was hoping for some scraps.





Cadillac Mountain 

A few days later, the family took a trip to Acadia National Park. Our first stop was Cadillac Mountain with breathtaking 360-degree views of Mount Desert Island.  We did some walking off of the path and onto the sides of the cliffs. It was fairly easy, although you had to watch your footing. 









Champlain Mountain 

Following that we took a longer hike to the top of Champlain Mountain. It was a 2.2-mile round trip hike, which seemed doable. We thought it was going to be on level ground and relatively easy. None of us realized beforehand that the hike was an uphill climb on uneven paths and involved vertically climbing the rocks at some points. Remember before when I said I wasn’t athletic? So as you might imagine, this was especially challenging for me. Our kids and their partners (30 years younger,) climbed easily and were way ahead of my husband and I. While I kept going, taking short breaks as needed, I was getting physically tired and wasn't sure I could make it to the top. Doubt set in.


Every so often, one of the kids would double back to check on us. Or, they’d call out to encourage us that we were getting close and almost there. At one point, my husband asked me if I wanted to stop and head back down. He knew I was having a hard time. However, I knew I was closer to the top than the bottom. I was determined and motivated to meet the family at the top. The last stretch was especially challenging, as it was almost a straight climb up without shade on sometimes-slippery rocks.

My husband climbed behind me to make sure I was OK. But I was slowing up even more. I asked him to climb in front of me to help give me the visual motivation and pacing that I needed to reach the top. We finally arrived. The kids were waiting and cheered us on.  The views were incredible and well worth the effort. 


So what kept me motivated to keep going?

There were a few things . . .

First there was the accountability piece: people were waiting for me. Secondly, the goal was within reach. It required that I push myself beyond my normal limits to get there. Isn’t that often the case? We’re so close to our goal and then we just give up. Yet when we do push through, it feels exhilarating. Lastly, there was the celebration. The woohooing, cheering and picture taking helped to commemorate the goal. When we’re struggling with motivation, our goal isn’t always so clear. The next time I’m feeling challenged, I’m going to conjure up images of climbing Champlain Mountain along with that wonderful feeling of making it to the top. We often need to reach beyond our comfort zone to arrive at our destination.

Do you have an image or story that you use to help motivate you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation!





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Reader Comments (14)

It's funny how sometimes our brain gives up before our body. We psych ourselves out. I'm SO GLAD you stuck it out and made it... what a tremendous feeling. Seeing that breakthrough provides motivation for another time when we might want to give in. I am more of a "stretching and walking" kind of person myself, so climbing a mountain would be a big achievement for me too. Sometimes you have to make the decision to go for it, no matter what. This might sound silly, but I recently had a screening colonoscopy. If you've had one, you know the prep isn't any fun. It can be tempting to just bag it and not follow through. But, I stayed the course, all went well and I'm glad to have it behind me!

July 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

@Seana- You're so right. So much of what I experienced was in my head. Yes. My body was having its own issues, but I had to get into a positive mindset to make it to the top. Remembering back will definitely be helpful in the future when a challenge is before me. I'm glad to hear that your procedure went well. I've been there. And you're right that the prep is no picnic, but the relief in knowing that everything is OK is worth the slight inconvenience.

July 23, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Congrats on your successful climb! What I see in your vision is much like our clients in conquering what is difficult. You challenged yourself and your outcome is amazing! It's about tenacity, team effort and (as you said) accountability. I love that you have an image that will make other challenges easier.

July 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

@Ellen- Thanks so much. I like the word choice, "tenacity." I needed a big dose of it, especially when I felt like giving up. That accountability piece made a huge difference for me. And the celebration was the icing on the cake...or should I say, mountaintop? Do you have any images that help you when you're facing a challenge?

July 23, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda, I admire you for sticking it out, and thank you for sharing your experience with us.

July 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- Thanks so much. It was an interesting juncture to get to...go the distance or retreat. It helped to have those motivation boosters: accountability, a clear goal, and celebration.

July 24, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I enjoy reading stories of struggles resulting in reaching a goal. Thank you for sharing. They inspire me to not give up. I wrote a self-reflection story in college from my experience at Dunes Falls in Jamaica. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or ready to give up, I think of that moment and it helps me get through. Reflecting on moments like this gives us an imprint of the experience in our brain and writing it down helps it become more concrete and Helps us to realize we can do anything.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

@Sabrina- How wonderful that you have an experience from your past to draw upon that helps you to forge ahead when you're at a low point. I suspect you're right that reflection is part of the process, but writing about it provides another level of processing that thinking alone might not accomplish. That you for sharing that insight. And happy to hear you have your Dune Falls to cheer you on.

July 26, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

The celebration. That's the part that I love the most. I usually focus on how I'll feel at the end when I've accomplished a goal. Thinking about that feeling is often enough to push me forward.

I love that you'll have a story and a feeling to remember during those moments when you need a bit of motivation. =)

July 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDeb Lee

@Deb- I love the different approaches to reaching goals. When you wrote that you love the celebration most and focus on the feeling at the end when you reach your goal, it made me think. While I love the celebration part (so fun!!!,) I realized that for me my focus tends to be on the process. Arriving is definitely important, but I tend to focus more on the actions I'm doing at that moment and adjustments needed to get me there. The beautiful thing about reaching goals is there are so many ways to get there.

July 27, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I agree with Deb. I'm all about the celebration - knowing that I will celebrate this challenging task, having completed it to the best of my ability is a huge motivator for me.

July 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Diane- Having the insight to know what motivates you is wonderful. And knowing that the celebration part works for you is great. Here's to the motivators that move us forward!

July 30, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love when you say: "I knew I was closer to the top than the bottom." Admitting that is the first step to help your brain say, "I'm going to keep going!"

When I was in college, I went on a summer trip to Israel and we did rappelling--my first time. It was scary and thrilling and I was proud of myself not only for the accomplishment but because the counselors put us in their idea of 'fraidy-cat' order. I was in the last group to go and half the guys in the group went before me! When I'm doubting myself, I think back to that experience and tell myself, "If I successfully rappelled down a mountain, I can do anything!"

July 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Agin Murray

@Stacey- Wow! What a great story of you rappelling down a mountain. And to have that message of being able to "do anything" as something deeply ingrained within. Fantastic! I love that you return to that experience when you need the reminder to forge ahead.

July 31, 2018 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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