Let’s imagine that following a career is like climbing a wall. When it comes to climbing that wall, the best way to start is not just by beginning to climb – but rather to look at the wall, observe those different types of hand- and footholds, and analyze how you can get straight up to the top without losing too much strength and time. It’s about planning a step-by-step approach in order to reach the top without falling in between. When you then finally start climbing, the most important thing is to always focus on the next step. Then you grab the next handhold, and the next one, and then suddenly the top of the route appears above your head. What might have been a challenge before is now just one step ahead.
As the last step is done it’s finally time to relax. If you are abseiling you can let yourself lay back into the rope and let your partner pull you down to the ground. If you’re climbing a mountain you may take another more comfortable way back down or you stay and watch the sun go down between the summits. And a good day will come to it’s proper end.
And then the next day starts with new routes, new challenges and new goals waiting for you.
„Training is hard work and success is not just given.“
(Angela Eiter, Professional Austrian Sports Climber)
Well, not every wall is easy. Not every wall is the same difficulty all the way through. You may find yourself in big trouble, may fall sometimes or give yourself bloody knees on the sharp edges of the rocks. You may ruin your clothing and shoes. You may get stuck and have to go back or start all over from another point. Or even realize, that the specific route you’ve chosen is too hard for you to manage.
Every climber – indoor and outdoor – is aware of such problems. A lot of them are taking the risk knowing that the route may be beyond their personal limit. If there was no fear within, there would be no fun. And if there was no fun, nobody would ever climb. Without any climbing, nobody would ever reach the top.
„Live your dreams and achieve your goals.“
(David Lama, Professional Austrian Sports Climber)
When it comes to career, it often seems that there is an impregnable wall in front of us. When we simply remember the individual steps of climbing, it can help us to focus and assess whether we’re able to take the risk and reach the top. Firstly, check the top of your route. Is it far away? Can you keep your breath long enough to advance to the summit? Do you have enough time to study and get experience? Are you talented or willing enough to become good at it? If yes, then just give it a try. Above all, you’ll gain experience and get better in whatever you’re doing. There’s nothing to lose but time. And time is also passing by, even if you are doing nothing at all.
„I would tell my 14-year-old self to trust in himself a bit more than he did.“
(Kilian Fischhuber, Professional Austrian Sports Climber)
If you have already started your career, focus on the next step ahead. If you pass this one, then focus on the next step and you’ll advance. Maybe sometimes it’s possible to get two steps done all at once. Occasionally you need to take two steps instead of just one. Perhaps you fall, get a bad mark, ruin a project or even lose a year in school or lose your job. Maybe you also have to take a break and let your muscles relax for a minute, take a sabbatical or travel the world.
Eventually you realize at some point that you’re off track. If you’re brave enough you can try a new route, not knowing to which top it will lead you. Or you get back onto your original path and try again.
„When I became older I allowed myself to fail more often, so I could then take bigger steps and this would lead me to the limit of my own possibilities.“
(Reinhold Messner, Austrian Alpinist)
In the worst case you fail. That will teach you two things: First: You may not be good enough right now for that specific route. Or it may be just the wrong route for you. Then start a new route with bigger hand- and footholds and no overhangs or roofs. In terms of career, consider that you must not be a doctor to deal with patients. Nurses and medical assistants can also do a great job of helping people. Or you choose another route up to the same top, which means that you may learn better on-the-job compared to a college or an university degree. Or the other way around.
Second: The route may be the wrong route because it leads you to the wrong top. In that case you may consider changing the route as well as the destination. This might be just a little change, for example not becoming an investigative journalist but instead a lifestyle writer for an online magazine.
„Go your way, believe in yourself and have fun.“
(Anna Stöhr, Austrian Professional Sports Climber)
The only thing which is really bad luck for you is a burnout. That can make you hang loose on the rope for a long time without going forwards or backwards. There is also something that we can learn from climbing: Knowing when it’s best to stop. When climbing a mountain, bad weather can force someone to go back. Climbers then often wait for days or weeks, or even go back home without trying. Getting back up just means to have a new start when you’re ready again. Maybe you lose a little time in your steps to the career top. But you won’t lose your health.
When it comes to your career path the wall you might see does actually just exist in your mind, whilst when climbing – fortunately, because you do want the exercise – walls do physically exist. So, whatever „your way“ means to you, always remember, it’s just your career. It’s not the entire purpose of your life. Relax and have fun. Because that’s what it should be all about – whether it is climbing up a wall or a career ladder.
Photo credit: Cover image by Pixabay
Judith Massar is Content Creator and Textninja at whatchado. She writes about everything from career to lifestyle and literature. Moreover, she’s a passionate climber herself.