One of the reasons I love the outdoors and physical pursuits is the sense of peace it always seems to give me. No matter how terrible the weather. No matter how much pain I might be in. I am always left with a sense of peace and accomplishment.

I am rejuvenated. Restored. Energized.

When we’re outside, we’re usually in motion toward something: the top of a climb, the finish line, the summit of a mountain peak. It’s not that we’re not enjoying the journey — because I think we totally are.

It’s that we have a vision of where we’re going. And that makes it so much easier to get there.

Moving toward a goal creates all kinds of advantages. As a life coach, I talk about this with my clients all the time. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking about what we don’t want. Imagine, though, that you’re training for a marathon and all you can think about is not wanting to be at the starting line.

It’s crowded. You’re antsy and just ready to go already.

The start gun fires and you’re off. Hooray! You’re full of energy and motivation.

But it quickly dissipates and you’re left feeling lost and discouraged.

What’s next?


Focus Forward

When your entire mindset is focused on leaving the start line, you don’t take any time to think about the next step, much less your final destination. It’s about moving toward something versus focusing purely on what you’re moving away from.

In the outdoors, it’s usually pretty clear. We hike up a mountain to the summit. We run a marathon and get to cross a finish line. Rack up for a climb toward the anchors.

In life, it can be less obvious. And it’s easy to focus on what we don’t want—especially when we’re feeling stuck or restless. “I want to lose weight.” “I want to leave my job.” “I want to get out of this relationship.” I don’t want to be HERE anymore—where ever that may be.


When we focus on where we don’t want to be, our brains automatically keep thinking about that undesirable Thing we don’t want. We’re stuck because our focus is on the “stuckness” — not the solution.


What if, instead of wanting to lose weight, it became about gaining fitness? Or eating healthier? How would that shift perspective? How would actions and attitudes change?

What if, instead of wanting to leave a job, it was about finding the right job? What would that mean?

What if, instead of not wanting to be here, the focus shifted to moving there? Even if “there” is a vague concept, I bet you know more about it than you think. What does there feel like?


Channeling the Lessons from the Outdoors

The next time you go outside for a hike or a climb (or what ever your sport of choice is), take in the fresh air and natural invitation to move forward. Notice the ease and lightness it provides.


Consider other areas of your life: are there areas of “stuckness,” things you really want to get away from? See what happens if you shift that focus to what you might move towards.


Which direction will you choose?


Amy Christensen is a certified life coach with a passion for adventure and helping women discover and tap into their own adventurous spirits. Based in Boulder, CO, her company, Expand Outdoors, focuses on helping women get outside literally and metaphorically: to step outside their comfort zones, take more risks (the healthy kind) and live a richer, more fulfilling, active, adventurous life.