The start of my story will be familiar to many people. I was working in London, a high-flier in a bank, working increasingly long hours, feeling under pressure to prove myself and gain continually better results despite an increased workload and lower budget. I hated London; I hated the tube travel, I hated the office environment and I hated the contagious feeling of stress that radiated throughout the team I worked in.
My escape was to the mountains. Every weekend, I would drive 6 hours to the Lake District or Snowdonia to live out my passion. Walking, climbing, scrambling….even sitting out bad weather in a tea shop… was my saviour.
There were 2 main turning points for me….
The first was when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. After several months of strong medication, where I was only just capable of dragging myself into work every day and spent my weekends recovering in bed, I decided to once more escape to the mountains.
Not well enough to summit anything, I instead wandered into a beautiful, remote valley. Surrounded by stunning mountain ridges, I sat perched on a rock overlooking a stream and experienced an overwhelming sense of wellbeing – better than I had felt for months.
1) I felt so much better – I needed more of this in my life! The fresh air, the mountains, the breeze blowing away cobwebs, the views… I’d previously said I didn’t want to spoil my hobby by making it my job, but I now realised I should spend as much time as possible in the places I loved.
2) If the mountains had this magical healing effect on me, wouldn’t it wonderful to share this with other people?
Within a couple of months, I’d transferred up to Edinburgh, closer to the Scottish Highlands and had started to plan out a business I could run in the mountains.
However, something was holding me back…..perhaps the golden handcuffs of corporate life, with my nice salary, annual bonus, flexible benefits, company car allowance, colleague mortgage etc…..
Perhaps it was just a lack of self-confidence?
Then came the second turning point – after a couple of years of passing interest in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) from various articles I’d read, I finally signed up to an NLP Practitioner course. This was initially just for personal interest, and it completely captivated me. Through the training, as well as learning how to coach others, I also went on my own personal journey.
This process was hugely powerful and helped me gain some significant clarity on what I wanted to do with my life. Through the coaching activities, I discovered how I could combine my 2 main passions: the mountains and helping people; into a feasible business.
Through coaching, I also found the confidence, motivation and courage I needed to quit my job and actually get started.
And so, here I am. I now own a business called Reach the Peak, running retreats combining hill-walking and NLP coaching. My clients are women in career transition: facing redundancy, going for a big promotion, wanting to start their own business, or undertake a radical change in career or industry, or perhaps returning from maternity leave and wanting to find a new work/life balance.
I find the walking element in particular, with its stunning scenery, the challenge it presents and the resulting sense of achievement, really helps my clients to find a different perspective. There are many metaphors to be taken from a journey through the mountains: resilience, just putting one foot in front of the other, knowing a general direction but just concentrating on the next few steps you can see… these transfer into everyday life, and particularly into problem solving.
I love my job now! It doesn’t feel like work at all really. I love watching people change their lives for the better, following their dreams and developing their passion. I love knowing I’ve had some small part to play in getting them started.
FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS, THEY KNOW THE WAY….
If you could follow your dreams, where would they lead you?
What things are you really passionate about?
What would it get you if you had more of these things in your life?
For more information on NLP coaching and the retreats I run for women in career transition, please visit www.reachthepeak.co.uk/transformational-trek.