The Highs and Lows of Goals

So I wrote a post earlier about goals…and as the summer starts to wind down I find myself frustrated, obsessed, and a bit disappointed in my lack of attempts towards some of the things I really want to do. I SO wanted to do a traverse I thought would be fun in Rogers Pass but could not find someone else with a similar desire or time. i wanted to work on yamabushi but again…finding someone and finding my own motivation were the cruxes here. Reflecting though, I have come up with a small list of some of my personal great excuses for goal failures and why they do and don’t really add up.

Excuse #1) I can’t find a partner….

Excuse #2) personal injury

Excuse #3) I’m tired from working all summer and am out of shape

Excuse #4) Is it worth investing in???

Excuse #5) Summer is ending and maybe I should move on and start working on winter goals

Ok…so lots of great excuses there. Truly though, the one that holds up most is lacking a partner. Some goals…really DO require you to have a partner in crime, so the only way around that excuse is to find a goal that doesn’t need another body. Bouldering, soloing…take up running or knitting? What you can do in this frustrating time however is continue to ready yourself as much as possible towards that future goal. Stay fit, eat healthy, keep strong. Plan ahead, and annoy as many people as you can until you find someone that says…maybe….then annoy them more until they say YES. Always appreciate your good partners.

The second excuse I realized wasn’t as limiting. Yes, recently I heard a twig cracking sound and discovered that that is what tearing a pulley sounds like.

The new 3 finger one thumb crimp

It is amazing that this has never happened to me before, but I guess improper warm up and getting older all pays a toll eventually! Then, when you try to avoid using that finger, your other fingers aren’t as strong and in turn you can really wreck other parts of your body, like I found with a shoulder roll on a two finger pocket, when it dislocated and popped back in again. Again…this had never happened to me before! Point is though…during this time of not being able to “try as hard as I can”…I was able to focus on other goals of endurance. Finally I sent my Ghetto Grassi Project, climbing Raw 12a, Lush 12a, Touch 11b, Running through the Slaughter 11c, Voice of Fire 12a, Radio Flyer 12a and Le Nettoyeur 12a in a a 4 hour go…all routes first try that day! I was super psyched! I remember Kim and I years ago working on that goal and now, it fell easily. The funny thing about it is its just a silly goal we made up years ago…it isn’t anything anyone cares about, but it really motivated me, for like 8 years! Another endurance goal I always thought would be fun, was to climb 10 5.11’s at the Back of the Lake. Lucky for me Jen was keen for this project as well and so with an alpine craggin start we headed to the Lake to take it on. Jen had just finished 8 straight days of guiding, so quite an impressive performance!!

We thought it would be fun to do 2 at each crag so we did Howard the Duck 11a, Duck of Death 11b, Liquid Sky 11c, Pushin the Edge 11a, Rubber Lover 11c, Aeroflot 11b, Mr Rogers 11b, Dewline 11c, Mardi Gras 11a and Wicked Gravity 11a.

Lucky for us we both got each route first try so there was no waiting for the other to do multiple burns or ego repairing:) Very fun day as each route is so classic and would make the worlds best multipitch if stacked on top of each other! Thanks for the motivation and good energy Jen! Once again not a project that holds meaning to anyone else, but without the intent, I surely wouldn’t have tried as hard…and i think that is the whole point…creating something for yourself that will motivate you and in turn give you reward. My personal definition of “project”. There can be projects at all levels of your climbing, your fitness and your health…you just have to find things that motivate you!

Okay, on to #3 excuse. yes summer work is tiring. I see it in myself and I see it in my guiding friends. it takes a toll. Tired bodies, tired minds, and in turn low personal motivation. I get it. I am not sure that I buy that it makes you “out of shape” though. i think all that time in the mountains walking, rope work etc, give you strong legs and a leaner body and that has advantages. True…it will not help your fingers climb 5.13…but it won’t entirely hurt you…so long as you can rediscover that inner drive!! Give yourself the rest you need…but also let yourself enjoy climbing for you again too.

#4…this is a tough one. The only person that can answer that is you. Yes…you might fail…you might put a TON of energy into something, and still not reap the reward. There are a ton of cliche sayings I am sure I could pull out of my ass for this one…but in the end it comes down to setting appropriate goals. If you are going to work all summer and not climb for yourself, then don’t set yourself up with unrealistic expectations (like sending Yamabushi)! If you have goals you really want to achieve, try to avoid all the above excuses and make it worth your while. Each failed attempt is like adding a loonie to your piggy bank…so the more tries the greater the reward in the end!

#5…No way! Sure, winter is inevitable but it is not here yet! Summer is still going strong and as hard core Canadian climbers…we need to embrace each sunny day as much as we can. Yes this is my own way of trying to encourage self motivation. But seriously…there are a bunch of crags that you can still climb at in the rain, on an overcast cool day, so i intend to make sure the rest of my summer goals lie in those places so that I can extend the life of our Alberta summer rock:)

So…the point of this post? A bit of self reflection…telling myself it is okay that I haven’t met all my goals but also giving myself a bit of a kick in the pants to get back out there and keep working towards them or making new ones. Hopefully if you read it, it might respark your drive or create some new goals for the next time you get out. In the ideal world, we would find the perfect, patient partner that is motivated towards the same objectives, never get injured, climb for ourselves year round, and have a zen like non-result motivated attitude …all while living in a low humidity year round summer…. Until that day…I plan to still pull from these excuses once in a while;)

4 thoughts on “The Highs and Lows of Goals”

  1. GREAT post, Sar! Sorry to hear about those injuries; it can definitely be hard to work around stuff like that. Jen had told us about your Rogers Pass plan, sounds like a really cool traverse if you can get the weather & partner (free days as well) to align. Hope you have a great fall!

  2. Recently had a silly finger injury as well that forced me to learn to climb in a new way for a while – and kept me out of cracks (unfortunately!). And I’ve had the same problems with finding partners, as well as finding time, not being tired after working, not being in good enough shape to do as well climbing as I did last summer, etc.

    It’s frustrating, eh?

    But then I realized there are people who do absolutely incredible things with obstacles so much larger than mine. For instance, I am now training for the Patagonia Expedition Race – a race that travels for up to 10 days over elevations much higher than my current location of Florida :). It’s hard to train for a race like that while you are in the flat lands. But then I look like someone like the man who ran in the past Olympics and had no feet. His obstacles were so much bigger than mine and yet he still conquered.

    Funny that I should happen across your post today! I just wrote my own about goals and one 90 day one that I am currently working on. I talked about a bit of the hardships I just mentioned as well ( So I just wanted to bolster your initiative to pull away from excuses and cheer you on in your future goals. I think it’s so much about our mindset. So go get ’em, tiger!

  3. Great to read this. I’ve been through a number of injuries in 15 years of climbing. It was a revelation when my friend who happens to be my personal trainer taught me his philosophy, “an injury is a training opportunity.” I ended up discovering my second sport, sculling because Pat was looking for ways to cross train me for climbing while I was injured and also took that misfortune and turned it into an opportunity to learn a new sport he’d noticed I had a knack for. The deal was I couldn’t use using my arms above my head, but I could still pull in hard at shoulder level. Pat got me into rowing first racing on the erg and now I’m learning to scull on the water. I’m excited that I am about to buy my very own shell. In many respects the sports are the same, dependent on power from the waist down, pushing with our strong big leg hip muscles while pulling in or down with the arms. And using that strong core to connect the lower and upper body’s work. Your newfound climbing goals were great ones! Hope you bounce back from injury soon, but in the meantime keep having fun with whatever you do out there! You live in an amazing place. Thanks for another thoughtful, practical post, Sarah!

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