• Sarah Lyall-Neal PsyD

Thoughts from the Mountain Top

Updated: Aug 29



A few weeks ago, while honeymooning in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, my husband and I climbed Mt. Leconte. For reference, Mt. Leconte is the highest mountain in the Smokey Mountain state park with an altitude of 6,539 feet. It is also one of the highest points in the Appalachian Mountains. I am not a professional hiker. I thought I might die (only exaggerating slightly).

I'm guessing you are wondering what on earth made me take on such an endeavor, no I hadn't lost my mind. The biggest motivating factor was going on an adventure with my new husband. I also wanted to challenge myself to push past my limits and do something that was scary. Hiking 11.5 miles straight up and down a mountain was outside my comfort zone to say the least.

In life and in business, we often face mountains and when we do, we have a decision to make. We have to decide if the climb is worth the time and effort. If we decide the climb is worth it, we then have to make sure we have what it takes to reach the top.


Deciding if the climb is worth it


I have to admit, when my husband first started talking about climbing Le Conte, I wasn't thrilled with the idea. We had recently completed a 10-mile hike close to home and I knew Le Conte was likely going to make that hike look easy (it wasn't). I had a decision to make. I could refuse to go and deprive him of the hike, I could go begrudgingly causing neither of us to have a good time, or I could reframe the hike in my mind as an adventure and plan to have fun. I chose the latter. The picture at the top of this post was taken at the start of the hike.

What mountain are you facing? Is it a work hurdle? Something in your personal life? What thoughts come to mind when you think about your mountain? Do you want to run from it? Or climb it?


Preparing for the climb


Assuming you have chosen to take on the mountain (Go you!), it’s now time to prepare. When my husband and I were planning for Leconte, we both got backpack's, hiking boots, water bottles, and snacks. We further made sure our phones were fully charged and threw in some first aid supplies. We knew we had to prepare properly or we wouldn't be able to make it to the top.

What steps do you need to take to prepare for your climb? Do you need to ask for help? Do you need to learn a new skill? Do you need to take some time to rest and reset to help you get focused and gain clarity? Think about your situation, which course of action comes to mind first?


My New Mountain: An example


For years, I have had a calling to do more for people who suffer from anxiety. I have dabbled in blogging before, but inevitably something always pulled me in another direction. Mainly, lack of time. If we let them, little things will drain us. Recently, I started evaluating how I was spending my time and found I was spending a crazy amount of time scrolling through Facebook and watching television. Essentially, I was spinning my wheels when I could have been doing something productive and worthwhile.

The Mountain: Adding a blog into my busy schedule

The Decision: Is blogging worth the time and effort? (yes, it will help me fulfill a calling to help people who experience anxiety)

The plan: Research blogging and online business, create a website, write content, get the content in front of the people who can use it

The climb: launch the website, continue to create quality content, focus on the prize (the summit) instead of the momentary pain (blogging instead of scrolling Facebook :))


Your turn


Determine the mountain in your life, we all have one, and walk through your plan for the climb:

The Mountain:

The Decision (make sure to include your why here):

The Plan:

The Climb:



This picture was taken at the Leconte Lodge. I looked super shabby here and I'm wearing my husband's shirt because it was cold at that altitude, but for once I didn't care. I wanted photographic evidence of my accomplishment. How will you document your accomplishment when you reach the top of your mountain?

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. -Philippians 4:13










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