Redefining career success in the mountains

Success looks different for everyone. In the mountains, it’s even more unique. Here’s how.

Photo: Jeff Cricco

It’s safe to say we all want to achieve a version of success for ourselves, and everyone’s version of success will look a little different.

Money, hobbies, social opportunities, travel, and notoriety are just a handful of metrics people use to measure success. The Berkeley Institute Of Well-Being outlined 8 definitions of success:

  1. Success is always doing your best.
  2. Success is reaching your goals.
  3. Success is learning something new.
  4. Success is overcoming fear.
  5. Success is being loved.
  6. Success is not giving up.
  7. Success is all about noticing all the small wins.
  8. Success is appreciating the present moment. 

The mountain lifestyle encompasses these traits, and the opportunities afforded to those living and working in the mountains breed so many ways to hone in on these definitions. So what are the main avenues mountain town professionals can go through to achieve their particular take on career success?

The value of experiences

The quintessential career pathway defined by the generic expectations set forth from Corporate America appears to be pretty linear. Go to school, get a job, work your way up the ladder, buy a house, have some kids, and retire at 65. It’s that “white picket fence” stereotype. But, this doesn’t really vibe with mountain towners. The people living and working in the mountains strive for a unique life, and it’s the experiences within that overall lifestyle where this is evident. We’ve mentioned before that play is potent. The mountain town lifestyle is full of adventure, nature, and community. From camping to hiking to climbing to mountain biking to skiing and snowboarding and beyond, the opportunities for fun are almost endless. And it’s through this fun where people living in the mountains always do their best, set  and reach new goals, learn something new, overcome fear, practice not giving up, notice the small wins, and appreciate the present moment. This is why enriching one’s life with magical experiences produces so much intrinsic value for people, and the mountain lifestyle just so happens to be a natural amplifier for these experiences. 

The benefits of community

If the pandemic-induced quarantine showed us anything, it’s the value we naturally receive from connecting with fellow humans. Times of struggle are oftentimes when we come to appreciate our neighbors the most because they’re reminders that we are all in this together just trying to make it work, and making it work is usually easier when you can collaborate effectively. Mountain towns are historically tight-knit communities and it’s not just due to their typically small population sizes. There is not the typical social hierarchy you might find in a city environment. “Keeping  up with the Jones” is not a common practice. When you’re in a mountain town, you get to know who is doing what, from their work to their hobbies to the organizations they support. This helps unify people in two considerable ways. For one, this helps other members of the community connect with those of like-mind and spirit, generating opportunities to network with people who share the same priorities that you have.On another level, this dynamic creates an opportunity to respect and appreciate everyone in your community regardless of the similarities or differences. We’ve previously pointed out that mountain towns make for excellent environments to get involved in one’s community and to have a genuine influence on those around you because people are always there to help each other out. Many people don’t live near their family relatives, so friends become family! Mountain townies are just grateful to enjoy life in the mountains together, and there’s so much value in knowing that the opportunity to connect, collaborate, and commend is so readily available. 

A  love for place

Nothing worth having comes easy. It’s no secret that living in the mountains can be trying at times. On one side of the spectrum, you’ve got the challenges of cold and snowy winters. On another part of the spectrum, you’ve got the common difficulties around sustainable housing availability and plentiful job opportunities. And when it comes to the day-to-day, sometimes it takes some strain just to dig your car out of the driveaway to get to work after Mother Nature dumped 5 feet of snow on you last night – talk about noticing all the small wins! Yet, this is integral to the mountain town lifestyle because it makes the rest of it all so much more special. Perhaps it’s the IKEA effect where mountain town residents love things more when they’ve expended effort to create them. Because of this adversity, the fun is even more gratifying and the community is even more connected. Through it all, there is so much love: love for the place you live, your family, your friends, your experiences, and your community. That’s a value you can’t put a dollar sign next to. 

Finding wealth in experiences, in community, and even in adversity is undoubtedly a powerful way to live. If you polled a collective of mountain town professionals offering them to earn twice as much money in the city, odds are they would not take you up on it. Once you’re dialed into the mountain lifestyle and all the intrinsic value it generates, no amount of money would be worth that shift. Does this definition of success vibe with what you’re looking for in your life and career? The mountains are calling, and Mountain Careers is here to help you get to them. Time to achieve the wealth you’ve been dreaming of. Here’s your first stop.