It was somewhere in the south west of Western Australia on a day hike that I got to thinking about the similarities between hiking and the creative process.
That’s the thing about hiking – you have plenty of time to think. Plenty of time to allow thoughts to ruminate to the rhythm of your heavy hiking boots marching along the track. A constant rhythm that has the same sort of mental benefits as meditation.
There is also a very defined period of preparation, a middle bit that can be both treacherous and beautiful, and a completion. The whole process of which allows for personal growth and a huge ol’ whack of endorphins.
So what can we learn from comparing the two?
Here’s the commonalities I’ve drawn from both experiences…
You become aware of your own mortality
Sounds pretty morbid, doesn’t it? Let me break it down. You are carrying all you need to survive on your back (water, food, shelter … ahem…red wine). You have moments of sheer desperation and not wanting to walk any further. Understanding our own mortality is something we don’t often get much of a chance to think about, or flat-out don’t want to think about, in our busy day-to-day lives. Not surprisingly, it can be intimidating, fear inducing and stop you from embarking on a potentially life-changing journey.
Sound familiar? Perhaps you’re experiencing or have experienced these feelings when contemplating that career change, going for that promotion or signing up for that personal development course. But rejoice my friends, for herein lies opportunity. With this stark reminder comes a more positive and quite powerful one. A reminder of your ability to back yourself. TRUST yourself, and how capable you are of achieving the things that matter to you, irrespective of the array of reasons which may be plaguing you to feel otherwise. A quality we all inherently possess, but sometimes require a unique experience such as this to reawaken.
Less prep, more doing
On a recent hike that I did with my other half we spent a good week getting ourselves organised for what was a (wait for it)…24 hour hike. Yep, that’s right. We had #allthegear and #noidea and felt like we had to over-prepare for every possible situation. While it served us well, there were seasoned hikers there with less gear than we had, and the truth is just because we were prepared it didn’t mean that we were more ‘pro’ when it came to the actual hiking.
I’ve seen the same thing time and time again with clients. We think that we need to take every online course that comes up in our Facebook feed, purchase every possible marketing tool or have completed a university degree with honours to be successful. Let me tell you, this just simply isn’t the case. In fact, as Stephen Pressfield tells us in one of my favourite books, The War on Art, it is merely a form of resistance to get started on the creative journey.
The ‘process’ itself is the best bit
How often have you been told to enjoy the journey and not just the destination? As a Type A personality that likes to ‘get shit done’ I know I have many times. But has that message really got through? Cast your mind back to a time when you launched something, or completed a piece of writing, or an art project. Was the moment you finished it as good as ALL the ‘aha’ moments or moments of progress during the actual project itself? For me, the answer is always no. Hiking is the same. Reaching the end is never as good as the flowers along the way, the incredible views, and the solitude of being surrounded by nature and away from the computer screen, yet we tell ourselves we just need to reach the end. Be present. Stick it on a post it note on your computer screen, or save it as your screensaver, should you need the reminder.
Reflection is the key to up-levelling
There have been many times I’ve reached the end of something and I’ve not felt the gratification I thought I would. Sound familiar? In my experience, the best way to get past this is to seize the opportunity to use the end period to look back and celebrate the journey. Here’s why this is key:
- We TRULY realise how far we have come.
- We reflect on the best bits, any not-so-good bits and the key learnings that enable us to keep on growing and evolving, whether it be hiking a longer stint or launching a project into the world.
What part of your life or activity can you relate to the creative process? I’d love to know.