Sunday, January 23, 2011

Don’t give up on your New Year’s Resolutions yet!

Every January I see the climbing gym flood with crowds. I always joke that they are all New Year’s resolution climbers and they’ll be gone by March. The optimistic side of me says the crowds only last until spring because the outdoor season arrived and everyone is off like a bunch of fledglings. But others quit, give up before their hard work pays off. Why? What makes climbers give up on their growth?

Self sabotage

When is that point that you start rationalizing to yourself that it’s okay to slack off of your NYR? Have you ever really listened to what you say to yourself to make it okay? Sometimes it’s not a huge declaration decision point like “that’s it! I’m done with this bullshit!” It’s more like an accumulation of all the little things we say to ourselves or things that we feel but don’t consciously recognize. Things like: fear, self doubt, comparing ourselves to others, talking smack to ourselves (I suck!), not being happy for or good enough for ourselves (it was only a 5.11a, I should do better). Those are the things that ultimately derail us from our goals and get us saying something like “I don’t really want to go to the gym tonight.” I would say the speed at which you dump your NYR is proportionate to the amount of crap you say/feel to yourself that you are not consciously acknowledging. If you’re dumping your NYR by February then you are a huge shit talker to yourself!

Internal vs. External Validation

External validation in climbing looks like setting goals on external things like “I’m going to climb a 5.12a by March,” or just concentrating on the physical aspects of training like lifting weights and cross training. Don’t get me wrong, physical training is important too but progress can be slow and leave room for the shit talking of yourself I mentioned above. The longer your external goal takes to achieve the more time you have to sabotage yourself.

In order to build a stronger training foundation you should set mental goals too. If you concentrate too much on developing the outer parts (how hard you climb) then you may not be developing the inner parts that will get you there. If you don’t know where to start take a look at what scares you. That will always point you in the direction of an appropriate mental goal.

Get realistic

What is really motivating you to climb? If you get stuck on the shallow end of trying to improve the way you look then your NYR might as well have never been created. Create a goal utilizing real honesty and self awareness if you want to stick to it and actually feel good when you achieve it.

Maximize the Flow

I’m going back to my trusty Flow Chart for this one. A great way to structure your NYR is by setting the stage for more Flow experiences to occur. To do this you need to appropriately match up your challenge level with your skill level. New Year’s resolutions tend to maximize the challenge level in hopes for growth but then mentally you might be spending your time more in the Worry/Anxiety realms of the chart. And too much time spent in the negative areas of the chart leads to the self sabotage behaviors I listed above. To maximize your NYR, adjust your challenge level to incorporate a better chance of experiencing Flow. You can still work to increase your skill level but let yourself enjoy a moment of Flow to keep you motivated with your goals. Then you will definitely feel happy about achieving your goal!

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