17 Lessons Learned from Mountain Climbing (even though I’ve never climbed a mountain before in my life)

I had big plans this weekend.

My book editor recently sent me the schedule for the upcoming months. The schedule, highlighted with dates and deadlines that, if met, would assure my new book would be released by the end of 2023.

With the first deadline approaching, and with all the passion and good intentions my little heart could hold, I made coffee, sat in my writing chair, opened my laptop, opened a new Google Doc, and turned on the TV to watch the first of four football games this weekend.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re all set to get to work and then, at the moment of getting to work, you find something else to do?

Over roughly 30 weekend hours, I watched four football games, made three types of football food including buffalo chicken dip, cheese steaks on toasted rolls, and shredded chicken nachos, took two naps, and wrote one mediocre page, that will require heavy editing, for my forthcoming book.

In her book “The Mountain is You,” Brianna Wiest explains that my weekend of avoiding writing was a form of self-sabotage, which according to Weist, “is simply a product of unfamiliarity.”

We’re creatures of habit who love to eat comfort food while being comfortable. Our procrastination is self-protection against the unknown. Against doing uncomfortable things. Things that require vulnerability, persistence, and patience.

After my Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants to advance to the NFC Conference Championship, I again opened my laptop, with the same passion and good intentions as before, but quickly became distracted by Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni’s press conference.

He talked about player performance, the game plan execution, and how the team is “climbing a mountain”, one step at a time, as the Superbowl glitters atop their pigskin mountain.

The mountain metaphor is one of the oldest and most consistent ones humans have.

From the Greeks to the Victorians to The Lord of the Rings to Marvin Gaye, mountains are metaphors for challenges and if we find the courage and fortitude to scale those challenges, our mountains become locker rooms of revelation and transformation.

Maybe it’s a relationship or a job or a health diagnosis. Or maybe it’s anxiety or guilt or fear of writing another book. No matter. Our mountains are universal yet, our mountains are as unique as we are. We should take comfort in knowing humans have always been climbing the same mountains we’re currently climbing since Zeus napped on Mount Olympus.

Yes, it takes effort and discipline and resolve to scale our personal mountains but we can do it.

I’ve never climbed a literal mountain before but I’ve conquered some challenges. Yet, as my weekend of watching football indicates, I’m still struggling to find my footing. I’m still struggling to climb today’s mountain. And maybe you are too. To help us, I’ve written down some things I’ve learned about climbing mountains. I hope they provide some comfort and reassurance as you climb.

1.Whenever you’re doubting yourself, look back to see how high you’ve already climbed. Take pride in your progress.

2.Flexibility, not rigidity, is more conducive for scaling mountains.

3.Every so often pause and celebrate the mental strength it takes to climb a damn mountain.

4.Climbing a mountain is not a race. Pace yourself.

5.Let the mountain humble you but don’t let the mountain control you.

6.There’s no way around it: effort is required.

7.Come what may but always keep your spirit.

8.Creating momentum is difficult. But once you’ve created momentum, create more momentum. Keep going.

9. Proceed with caution but know when it’s time to take a risk.

10.Self-belief is a byproduct of progress.

11.An easy way to lose your grip is by complaining or gossiping or comparing your mountain to someone else’s mountain.

12.You can’t climb a mountain alone. Asking for help is the reasonable and responsible thing to do.

13.Don’t think about reaching the summit. Think about the urgency of right now.

14.Being stuck is a position not a destiny.

15.The climb is not about the mountain. The climb is about you. Pay attention to you.

16. Detachment from uncertainty happens by moving forward.

17.One day this mountain will be behind you.

Be well,

Checkout my interview with All Author where I talk about the writing process and being hounded for autographs at the food store.

Jay Armstrong latest interview by AllAuthor A writer, speaker, former high school English teacher, and award-winning author, Jay Armstrong always enjoyed making people feel something. He was also a stand-up comedian. Ever since he was a child he wanted to write a book. His memoir, Bedtime Stories for the Living won first place in the non-fiction/parenting category of the International Readers’ book contest. He enjoys reading, writing, and exercising. Read full interview…

Buy Here!

January Book Promos for You:

Are looking for inspiration? Are you searching for a better version of yourself? This month I joined literary forces with some best-selling authors to promote our books in Become Inspired. Become You. 

Memoirs, Biographies, Self-help books…oh my! This month I also joined literary forces with some best-selling authors to promote our books in the inspiring in Nonfiction Grab Bag. 

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take…

A few months ago, with low expectations, I took a shot and entered “Bedtime Stories for the Living” in the highly regarded, highly competitive international book contest presented by Readers’ Favorite. Readers’ Favorite is an established force in the publishing industry. They have worked withPenguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors.

Anyway, just before I was about to take a midday nap, I was informed that this suburban dad had won…

First Prize, the Gold Medal, in the Non-Fiction/Parenting genre!


Are you a reader? Looking for your next good book to read or listen to? Check out my new page “Jay’s Book Shelf” for some book recommendations.

Here’s what I’m currently reading: From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks

If you like this post, you may also like:

The Last Walk


Overcoming Monday Morning


Assembly Required


Your Voice is the Most Powerful Thing You Own


Jay Armstrong is a speaker and an award-winning authorDespite being diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, that impairs his movement, balance, eyesight, and speech–Jay presses on. The leader of the Philadelphia Ataxia Support Group, he hopes to help you find joy, peace, and meaning in life. For Jay, a good day consists of 5 things:

1. Reading
2. Writing 
3. Exercising
4. Hearing his three children laugh
5. Hugging his wife
(Bonus points for a dinner with his parents or a drink with his friends)

Jay hasn’t had a bad day in quite a long time. 

You can also visit Jay at jayarmstrongwrites.com

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