Stone Mountain Summit Signage

Life Work Balance – Foggy Hike On Stone Mountain

This afternoon, I had a chance to take a break and enjoy a fast-paced solo hike on one of my favorite loops through Stone Mountain State Park.  I’m making an effort to increase and maintain a focus on life work balance, especially since I continue to find that launching a tech startup has the potential to be all-consuming of my ever increasing waking hours.

This loop is a hike I’ve been doing since I was a kid, and many aspects of the trail have changed a bit over the three – almost four – decades, including the installation of several long sets of staircases.  These staircases help people stay on the trail on some of the steeper sections of Stone Mountain, which can be pretty difficult to ascend due to the slick granite of the monadnock.

These staircases also help me get into a rhythm.  Often I’ll clear my head by counting the steps.  Often I’ll get some sort of parade march tune in my head as I syncopate my hike.  When I reach the top of the last set of stairs and crest the massive rock to see the view, regardless of the weather, I’m always impressed to the point that my mind clears completely, even if for just a few precious moments.

Photo of view from Stone Mountain
A foggy view from the summit of Stone Mountain in North Carolina.

Then, the sweat really starts pouring from my pores.

Photo of Ben Erlandson atop Stone Mountain
Standing atop the summit of Stone Mountain in North Carolina.

Soon, I’m on my way down the ridge, a nice cool-down descent (with no more staircases) on the return to the car.  My mind clicks back into gear and I consider again the concept of life work balance, and how much effort I need to put into maintaining such a balance as I focus so intently on my new company, Knedia.

I think about how I spent so much time on my bicycle as an amateur road racer in Arizona, training 20-plus hours a week in the saddle while also in the throes of designing and developing several virtual learning environments, conducting research experiments, publishing journal articles, and writing my dissertation.  I often think that I wouldn’t have been able to finish my dissertation if I hadn’t been able to write and review most of it in my head as I spent 2-3 hours of time in the saddle on those early mornings in and around Tempe, Phoenix, and Scottsdale.

I’m happy to be able to get outside on familiar paths (paths I could almost walk blindfolded), allowing my mind to wander and focus on the endless number of tasks that must be done to prepare for the funding, development, and success of a tech startup, and how to do it without destroying myself.  I once told one of my dissertation advisors that getting a PhD would do me and everyone else no good if I ended up dead or crazy in the process.  I’ve got to keep the same thing in mind as I embark on this latest endeavor with Knedia.

To be completely honest, I’ve got to get myself into much better shape (and I’ve got a more detailed post on this topic in the works – stay tuned!).  Being my own boss, I hope to maintain a schedule that, while chaotic and filled to the brim, will be flexible enough to ensure this can happen.

Finally, to add just a bit more creativity to my life work balance (beyond my continued increase in photography excursions), I’ve been asked to join Foothills Theatre, our local community theater group, to play a bit part in Dearly Beloved, the winter dinner theater show to be held in three performances at the end of February.  As Wiley, the inept fiancée of a rather desperately betrothed woman, I don’t have many lines, and most of them are tangential and incoherent, thanks to the agreed upon culprit of “too much cough syrup”…

I went to my first rehearsal this morning.  It should be a riot!