How do you stay motivated to pursue your outdoor challenge of choice when life threatens to get in the way? Work, relationships, self-doubt and stress can easily get in the way as you strive to pursue an adventurous life. What’s going to keep you going when your dreams are nearly derailed?
Lisa Thompson is the second American woman to summit K2 and has taken on countless challenges through her passion of mountaineering. With each adventure she’s come up with, countless obstacles have threatened her path. From unsupportive people to plain self-doubt, Lisa has taken on it all to become a renowned climber.
Lisa Thompson came on the Tough Girl Podcast to share her mountaineering journey and the strategies that kept her going. Keep reading to learn from Lisa’s experiences and find out how authenticity may be the key to your motivation.
Allow Your Why to Change
Once Lisa got into mountaineering, Mt. Rainier was the first big mountain she chose to ascend. On her second attempt, the guide pulled everyone over and assessed each person’s ability to summit. When he passed Lisa and said she would make it to the top, her confidence soared. That moment was pivotal as Lisa realized she wanted more of that sense of possibility and accomplishment.
This sense of accomplishment and the desire to prove people wrong as one of the few women involved in climbing drove Lisa to continue pursuing this passion.
“Spite is what got me started in mountaineering, but it can only take you so far,” Lisa notes. “Over the years I learned more from the mountains and really paid attention to how I was growing because of my challenges in the mountains.”
When Lisa was diagnosed with cancer, her reason for climbing shifted. Instead of thinking about proving people wrong, she started thinking about what mountaineering did for her. That became her reason for climbing.
“The mountains are my greatest teachers and I’m more motivated than ever to have them in my life,” Lisa says.
The why behind your passion can evolve. Allow that change to happen and you may find a renewed sense of motivation.
Create Your Own Path
After recovering from Cancer, Lisa quit her job, ended her marriage and sold everything she owned in a short period of time. Needless to say, this was shocking to her family and friends. Lisa learned to accept and appreciate the concerns of her community, knowing that they came from a place of love.
In many moments, Lisa decided to follow what felt right, rather than what was conventional as she pursued her passion for climbing. “I’ve made this choice that I know is aligned with who I am,” Lisa remembers. “If I don’t stay true to that, I won't be authentic with myself. That was a bigger motivation than anything else.”
Through creating her own path, Lisa felt in her gut that she was doing the right thing. “The right path is always to stay true to who you are,” Lisa advises.
When obstacles threaten to derail your vision of adventure, remember to stay true to yourself.
Handle Pressure with Presence
When you decide to share your challenge goal with friends, family and the world, it can be a lot of added pressure to succeed. Sometimes, it can make you reconsider your dream completely for fear of not achieving your goal.
On Lisa’s K2 climb, she worked with sponsors so part of the deal was putting herself and her big goal out there. This was a new level of stress and pressure for Lisa because people were now counting on her to complete the challenge.
While this pressure could crush her motivation, Lisa set outward opinions aside to focus on her personal reasons for making the climb. Pressure wasn’t productive, but being present was.
On a challenging climb, Lisa handles the stress by getting present with her breath. She focuses on taking measured breaths to calm her nervous system. She also uses mantras to remind herself that she’s strong even in challenging moments.
When you’re faced with pressure and stress as you take on a challenge, consider how you can bring yourself to the present. Developing this habit will help you in the planning stages and beyond!
Make a Promise to Yourself
Later in her climbing journey, Lisa decided she wanted to take on climbing K2, a notoriously dangerous summit. When even her climbing coach thought the mountain was above her ability, Lisa questioned if it was the right choice.
This seed of self-doubt turned into a forest and became difficult for Lisa to move through. If someone who worked in mountaineering for years and knew K2 well didn’t think she could do it, should she scrap her plans?
Lisa couldn’t be sure that she was doing the right thing even when she left for K2, but she still listened to a tiny whisper inside that told her it was the right path. Following that voice was being true to who she was.
As she took on the challenge, Lisa simply promised herself not to climb above her ability and to do her best every day. If she did that, she would be staying true to herself.
Take on your adventures in a way that’s authentic to who you are. You may have internalized a message to quiet the voice inside you. It’s your responsibility to unearth that voice and follow that intuition to a path full of joy. Lisa shares, “When you use that as your guide to make decisions, you can’t go wrong.”
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