It is 3am on a Friday night. My wife and I have each been up with our youngest son while he is learning to not wet the bed. After my wake up at 2:22am I am now not able to sleep. The question that has been on my mind for the last hour has been, how do I stay motivated to try hard in climbing.
I reflected on my childhood motivation while lying in darkness and listening to my son wiggle and roll in his bed while sometimes letting out crys of fear or joy during his dreams. As a little kid my parents taught me to be goal oriented. They started with establishing small daily goals, like finishing my homework and putting my toys away. These small tasks that I accomplished with their guidance allowed me to stack more on my plate.
Once I began playing sports I was able to work on my weaknesses, like pitching for baseball or backhand shots for hockey. My dad hung a tarp in the back yard, measured out the pitching distance, got a bucket of balls and I threw and threw and threw into that strike zone until I was accurate. The same thing happened with hockey, my backhand was weak so he brought home a piece of metal for me to lay on the ground and practice shooting at the brick wall of our house. After hours of these tasks I improved.
The same thing was necessary for me and my academics. I was not the gifted student but I could sit and do the math problems or write spelling words over and over and over until I could out answer and out spell the other kids in class. So when it comes to climbing I can spend the time on the little things that keep me motivated.
I know that my crimp strength is weak, so I spend the time doing repeaters each and every time that I train. I know that my core can always be stronger for the tension moves and overhanging rock that I enjoy to climb, so I train it twice a week without falter and I know that explosive power is a weakness, so I brought back campus Thursdays to the program.
What does all this have to do with staying motivated? Well, like most of us I have very little time. Between teaching high school, working at my job at the local climbing gym, being a involved parent and husband and trying to be a good climber/sponsored athlete it is easy to say that since I don’t get to climb every weekend anymore that I shouldn’t project anything anymore or that I shouldn’t want to improve. I say that is not easy but that that attitude is not the one that I carry (although I do get unmotivated throughout the year) most of the time.
I look at what I want to do, I look at the details that will make it possible, I look at the possible time investment and then I decide whether or not I want to put in the time and baby steps to make it happen. Some goals are easy to achieve and ultimately are less satisfying (to me at least) while others take a long time and linger in our heads for weeks, months or years. If I can keep chipping away at the small things to achieve the bigger goal, then I am motivated, but if it continuously remains futile and not in the cards, then maybe I chose the wrong goal at the wrong time.
The last few years have been a huge learning curve for me and goal setting. I have made a few correct choices and a few poor ones. Ultimately, the wrong ones lead to adding external stress beyond climbing and that is not cool (it is after all just climbing). But I have learned what is appropriate and worth while and satisfying even though I still choose poorly now and again.
So what’s the point? Pick something that is worth it, pick it apart and then practice what needs to be done in order to get there. Set a reasonable time frame knowing that it can require less or more time. Lastly, know that with every ball you throw or puck you shoot that you are moving one step closer to achieving something special. I know that I will.