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On May 29, 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the top of Mount Everest climbing to 29,028 ft. Prior to their successful ascent, hundreds of attempts had been made. All failed. 13 people had died trying. Some bodies still lay frozen on the mountain today.

“They didn’t know what they’d find. No one had been where they were going. That’s just a huge psychological barrier, and that’s what’s still great about what he and Tenzing Norgay did. They didn’t just summit; they broke through.” –Unknown

Everest stories fascinate me. I have read books and articles on various expeditions and climbs. More failures then successes, greed, ego, achievement, its all in there. I find it to be a great metaphor or example of what each person deals with in their own minds every day.

What Psychological Barriers are holding you Back from Your Dreams?

In my last article I wrote about figuring out what you want, going deep inside and feeling your “bliss” and happiness, committing to it and practicing daily until you achieve it. I would like to expand on this idea and provide a visual aid to help you establish your goals.

Here is a graph created by my friends at the London Perret-Roche Group. Start at the star on the upper right hand portion of the graph. This is the psychological barrier. This is what you want. But it is impossible right now simply because there is no plan. The idea is to make the impossible possible. This is your “Mt. Everest” climb and you are Sir Edmund Hillary.

planning-horizon-i

This can be used to guide you through your life. Your path is yours and only yours. When you wake up in the morning you stand on your own two feet and no one else’s. It can be frightening and exhilarating and there are several normal psychological processes we go through while we stand at “base camp” and look to the “summit of Everest”.

Understand that feelings of fear, even light headedness, dizziness and dread are normal and common whether you are climbing Mt. Everest or taking the first step toward making a change in your life.

Every day we climb our own Mt. Everest.

1 in 10 Americans takes an antidepressant medication. For women in their 40s and 50s this number is 1 in 4. Over 44 million prescriptions were written for Anti-Anxiety medication last year or 1 in 7 Americans getting a prescription of Xanax. One author concluded: “What is everyone so damn anxious about?” It’s the psychological barrier in front of us. It is that which we perceive to be impossible. It is our own Mt. Everest.

We have a daily struggle sorting through those things that we truly want in our life and how to attain them. We have inner conversations that we are not good enough, we do not deserve to have them, or that we cannot achieve such things. We go into self-attack mode. We get down on ourselves. We become depressed and anxious. We go on meds. This is unfortunately the path for so many people.

If you can See the Mountain, You can Climb the Mountain

Let’s use the example of physical pain. It is easier to identify then mental pain. Let’s say you have severe back pain. What are you going to do about it? One option is to ignore it. Many do this leading to serious problems later. Another option is to medicate it. Pain killers and anti-inflammatories are band aids more often than not leaving the problem to remain. Another option is to get an Xray taken, find out what the problem is and then come up with a plan to fix it.

When you become aware of what the problem is, and become clear on how to fix it, much of the fear, depression and anxiety will begin to dissolve immediately.

Back to the graph. One of the paths shows what will most likely happen if you keep doing what you are doing. Another path shows best case scenario. But the star at the top is the prize. How do you close the gap between “most likely,” “best case,” and the “Breakthrough.”

The first step begins with seeing the mountain, being aware that it exists and making the decision that you want to climb it. The next step is yours to take. And step-by-step you close the gap to make your breakthrough.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Lao Tzu