You might think that hiking in Los Angeles and entrepreneurship have absolutely nothing in common. You might be right. But as a determined lifetime entrepreneur, I beg to differ.
I have tried many ways of coping with the perpetual rollercoaster of being my own boss, marketer, bookkeeper, receptionist, and HR manager. Many were unhealthy and others were just plain ineffective. Over time, I have found that hiking in the mountains of Los Angeles clears my head, boosts my mood, and earns me a small win for the day.
There are three specific things I get out of every Los Angeles hike that inspire me to reach for higher heights (pun intended) in my life and business. There are also a few science-backed reasons to spend time hiking as well. Let me share with you why I think anyone who is struggling to build a business should get themselves to a Los Angeles mountain. And climb it.
1. You Get To Conquer Something Quickly
If you’re anything like me, climbing the ladder of success can seem endless. Growth rarely occurs overnight. Most entrepreneurs in Los Angeles succeed because of countless hours courting clients, months of fruitless pitches, and hundreds of thousands of emails. The work required to reach Successville is endless, and there is often not an end in sight.
Here’s the good news: You can manifest your own 100% success rate on — you guessed it — a mountain. You start at the bottom (usually), you walk until you reach the top, and voila — success.
Hiking to the top of a peak is something that is within your control. You decide to start walking, and you continue to decide to keep walking until you reach the pinnacle. Success is not up to the buyer, the viewer, the consumer, or the vendor. Success is only up to you. And it is achievable within a short period of time. Start, work hard, win.
When I come home after hiking, I feel like I can continue to work toward a finish line that may not be in sight because I have just gotten my dopamine hit of a win by conquering a peak near me.
2. You Can Get a Little Sunshine (Which Can Be More Helpful Than You Think)
Hiking in Los Angeles gets me out in the sunshine, which usually makes me just a little bit happier. Many of us have heard that sunshine can naturally raise the levels of vitamin D in our bodies, but did you know that sun exposure is actually the best way to raise vitamin D levels?
But why should entrepreneurs care about vitamin D? Because studies show that decreased levels of vitamin D can be an indicator of depression. And why should entrepreneurs care about staving off depression? Because entrepreneurs are twice as likely to suffer from depression.
Now, I’m the person who is perpetually (and often, according to my friends, annoyingly) glass-half-full. But if I can get out in the sun, soak up some vitamin D, and decrease my chances of becoming glass-half-empty (or just empty), count me in for some sunshine. Yes, I usually wear sunscreen and a hat, but even the little bit of sun that manages to warm my skin is always a comfort to my high-strung demeanor and a salve for my latest rejection.
3. You Break up Your Day (Which Can Make You More Productive)
Before my discovery of hiking in Los Angeles, I had a habit of waking up, working, eating at some point, using the bathroom at some point, and then going to sleep. The hustle culture has never been more real than it is at this point in time, and I am often one of the hamsters on its wheel. It is very, very difficult to pull myself away from my work when I know that there is no one else to pick up any slack.
I have found, though, that if I break up my day, I am significantly more productive during the times that I choose to work. If, for instance, I plan to head out for a hike around 2 p.m., I get a burst of energy around 1:15 p.m. (“I want to get this done before I leave!”) And when I return from my date with Mother Nature, I usually either have fresh ideas or I can look at a stale project with fresh eyes.
In fact, taking breaks has been scientifically proven to increase productivity. A study out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign says that “the brain is built to detect and respond to change . . . prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance.” So while leaving the desk might be difficult, it is usually the best thing to do if you want to get more done.
While I hike in Los Angeles, I have the time to ruminate on upcoming decisions and step away from problems that seem unsolvable. Somehow during my outdoor time, my problems seem to shrink and I am able to cultivate (literally) a new perspective. Like taking off in an airplane, the further I get from the problems I face as an entrepreneur, the smaller they seem.
How To Get Started
If you’re interested in a little sun, perspective, and accomplishment, I recommend adding a short hike around Los Angeles to your workday. If you’re not sure how to begin your adventures exploring Mother Nature, here is some advice as to how to get started.
- Choose a hike near you. While it’s nice to get away from the hustle, too much time on a mountain is . . . too much time away from your work. The AllTrails website is a great place to find a place near you to start trekking. You can input the city nearest you to find a list of nearby trails, their ratings (how difficult they are to traverse), photos of the trails, accessible restrooms, directions, and more.
- Set a time. And a timer. I always schedule my hikes and set up my phone to (loudly) alert me when it’s time to go. Why? Because if I don’t set up an annoying alarm, I procrastinate. And then I procrastinate some more. And then it’s too dark. Whether you choose to hike first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, or at dusk, I highly recommend keeping your appointment with yourself to step away from your work.
- Get some gear. I am not an advanced hiker, and I have little to no need for things like hiking poles and hydration backpacks. However, they make me feel super cool. I believe the best piece of gear for a new hiker is hiking boots. I splurged on a pair of Merrell day hiking boots that make me feel hardcore and also provide an inspiration to go hiking for the sole purpose of getting my money’s worth out of the purchase.
- Schedule a return appointment. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rest tends to stay at rest. Once I’m out in nature, I have a tendency to not want to leave. I have found that the best way to ensure that I turn around and trek back to my car is to schedule an appointment for which I need to be at my computer at an appropriate time. Doing so will help me hustle my hike and not become the female version of Bear Grylls.
One of the things I have found in my years of working for myself is that I need to ensure that I am always looking out for my own self-care. While it may sound a little hokey to some, I know that even if I don’t want to, stopping to take a breath, get outside, and promote my health and wellbeing is one of the best things I can do for my company . . . and myself.