This is one my fave analogies and has been cropping up a lot this week with my coaching.  I work with ambitious people who often have complex demands on their time and energy, big decisions to make, difficult stuff to deal with.  And that means life can be tricky.

And we do great work helping them to reduce their stress, build resilience and find clarity, productivity and new ways to harness their strengths.


But the real big shifts come from taking rocks out of the backpack.  The rocks that we put in there ourselves; the backpack we’re carrying all the time.

These rocks often come in the shape of:

  • Being really hard on ourselves; setting ourselves impossibly high standards
  • Being overly critical of ourselves (that endless negative self talk)
  • Doubting that we belong, are good enough, deserve our space (hello imposter syndrome)
  • Never celebrating what we’ve achieved and just moving onto the next hurdle
  • Black and white thinking, only seeing success/failure, good/bad, right/wrong, win/lose
  • Perfectionism – if it’s not 100%, it’s not worth it
  • Regret, shame and self recrimination

  • Future guessing (“I won’t like that”, “I can’t do that”, “it won’t work for me”)
  • Self sabotage

  • Analysis paralysis – but what if that happens?  That might mean that, then that, then that..

The list goes on…  And it’s all stuff we put there ourselves.  Life is tricky anyway, and then we load up the bag with rocks, and try to do everything we’re aiming for with it on our back.

But the good news is – just as we put them there, we can take them away.  And wow, how much easier it is without those rocks.  And even better – how much more we can envisage and achieve without them.

Shifting this stuff isn’t easy.  But the first step is spotting it.

Next time you’re struggling with something, take time to pause and try to view it with a little distance.  What part of this is the problem itself; what part of it is the rocks you’ve added?  For me, the visual of the backpack is super useful, but you do you!

And how could you gently put down a rock or two?  And if that feels too tricky on your own, let’s talk.