I guess 2017 has been pretty good to me.
Just kidding! Lots of stuff happened this year, some amazing, some not so good. I started an amazing new job, Matt had a not so good injury, I had an amazing result at a competition, I had a not so good result at a competition, and I sent several new 13’s, and my long term project. But I don’t want to talk about the outcomes, because this year has really taught me to focus on the process.
I know that sounds cliche. “It’s all about the journey…” or whatever. But setting goals to highlight the process makes it much easier to achieve success, regardless of the outcome. Let me explain.
Firstly, focusing on what you need to do instead of what you need to achieve helps you stay focused. It’s great to have big goals, but if all you thought about on your red-point was clipping the chains, how could you remember the beta? If all you thought of while competing was making the podium, how would you deal with a setback? For me, having a process goal is like having a secret weapon against the monster of my negative self-talk. When the monster comes to tell me I’ll never stick that dyno, I return to my process goal and say “Breathe, go for it every time!”
The process goal should be simple to achieve, but that doesn’t mean they should be easy.
Sometimes it’s hard to stop and take that deep breath, to remember to forgive your mistakes and give 100% on every attempt. Sometimes it’s hard to stick to the training plan, or even to get off the couch and go to the gym in the first place! But these are all things you have control over, and that’s what makes the process goal so powerful. You can’t control the weather, or what holds the setters chose, but you can control your actions and your decisions.
After two-hanging Legends for the 4th time this fall, the monster tried to tell me I should just quit. I was running out of good fall days, the one-hang seemed out of reach and a send practically impossible. But a little birdie told me to keep punching the clock and focus on the process. He was right! I sent the next day!
In November I competed in my second ever Ontario-sanctioned competition. This one was at Boulderz Etobicoke, and the field was larger and stronger. I went in with high hopes, but I knew making the podium would be very difficult, as many of the other women were seasoned competitors. What I wanted was to be top 5 – achievable but not easy! I set my process goals accordingly: Stay positive, especially after a failure, and approach dynamic problems with confidence.
After a frustrating set of problems I came away with only 2 tops, leaving me in 8th place. I say frustrating, because I felt I should have had 4 tops. On problem #2 I reached for the finish hold thinking it was a crimp, and as my fingers scraped the front of it I realized it was a no-shadow, meant as a thumb catch. Bad beta! I should have read the problem more thoroughly before leaving the ground. I also had frustration on problem #5, a dyno. I stuck the hold on my 6th attempt, but timed out reaching for the finish hold. I could and should have stuck the dyno earlier. I was so close to achieving my outcome goals, but I biffed it!
I do feel like the competition was a valuable experience, though, because I achieved my process goals. I did what I set out to do, so even though I came 8th, I can say I had some measure of success. I can also say that I learned from the experience, and I am looking forward to applying it all to my coaching and setting in the new year!
So as 2018 approaches and we all make our resolutions, I’d like to encourage you to back each of yours with a process goal. Here are mine:
- Become a more well-rounded climber.
- Project routes outside of my comfort zone – my weaknesses. Everywhere I go, I will pick at least one route that’s my complete anti-style: thuggy, overhung, terrifying, or all of the above!
- Become more mentally resilient.
- Be more forgiving of myself – work on accepting every failure as part of the learning process. Remember that it’s okay to flail badly on a new climb, and if the monster tries to tell me I suck, it’s okay that I accidentally let it through.
Thanks for reading! I wish you all the best in the new year – try hard, be happy!