And with every step, I am that much closer to reaching these peaks.

The trail to success is similar to scaling a mountain to the top. When first embarking on the journey, you may think you have all the necessary supplies for your trip. You may have prepared a strategy that maps out your expedition, and you may come forth with an intense energy and drive to finish your adventure at all costs. However, unless you have prior experience in reaching your previous goals at the peak, it will be likely that more things will go wrong than right.

You may come to find out that you didn’t pack enough for the journey, or may have packed too many unnecessary items. Next thing, obstacles arise that you didn’t plan for and the strategy that you came up with does not fit the circumstances of the situation. Your drive to get to the top will diminish the further you climb, and the distance left to the peak is unknown and much further than you anticipated. The best case scenario that was planned is now the worst case nightmare that you tried so hard to avoid as a beginner.

This is the turning point where most people quit and decide to head back down the mountain. The switchbacks are abundant and endless the further up you trek, convincing you that your slow progress is basically no progress at all. The higher up you hike, the more difficult it is to move and to breathe.

At this point, it boils down to two options available to you: Turn back, or keep pushing.

Those that turn back are disappointed that they did not reach the top but are content that they avoided the headache of the journey up there.

Those that continue to push will face countless more obstacles that must be dealt with. Bloody feet, sore legs, unfriendly weather, and mental fatigue will be the traveler’s best friends on the expedition. There will be times where you think turning back would have been a far easier path and many moments of contemplating whether or not to give everything up in exchange for comfort. However, even in the face of great adversity, you move forward, little by little.

Each step matters and each stride will mean one less step to reaching the peak. From what seemed like no progress was being made individually now puts you miles from where you were earlier.

And now all of a sudden, you appear at the base of the peak. Your steps feel more effective, now with the end goal in sight. Your footprint embedded in the fresh, stiff snow with every step. Your body still aches, but that pain feels nonexistent as the number of steps to reach the peak decrease. Soon, you can count how many more strides it will take you to touch the landmark on two hands. Seven more steps. Six… Five… Four… Three… Two…

You stand in front of the landmark that reads: “Elevation: 14,350 ft.”

Everything feels unreal. You reached your goal.

It didn’t matter that it took you seven more hours than you thought it would. It didn’t matter how much pain you put your body through. It didn’t matter that you consumed all your resources on this journey. The only thing that does matter is that you’re where you wanted to be.

Each step on its own seems insignificant, but when totaled, those steps lead you to where you needed to be. Little by little, you’ve conquered an entire mountain.

And before you know it, little by little, you’ve conquered the world.

Baby steps.

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