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How to Overcome Excuses to Improve Your Climbing Part 3

In this three part series, ambassador, climbing coach and twice Swedish bouldering champion, Daniela Ebler, will cover the science behind the mind’s excuses and how to conquer them.

Part 3. Identifying your Values & Achieving your Goals

By Daniela Ebler

This is the third and final part of a 3 part series on confronting the excuses that are holding you back in your climbing. In Part 1 we focused on identifying your excuses while Part 2 aimed at the process of tackling those excuses.  

Now it’s time we focused on goals and how we can achieve them without those old excuses coming back to haunt us.

See Part 1: Why We Make Excuses

See Part 2: Steps to Conquering Your Excuses

Values & Goals Explained

What’s the difference between a goal and a value? Lori Eisner, PhD writes a good explanation on her blog:

“When we think about HOW we want to live our life, we are focusing on values. Values are like a compass that keep us headed in a desired direction and are distinct from goals.

Goals are the specific ways you intend to execute your values. A goal is something that we aim for and check off once we have accomplished it.

For example: Being responsible is a value. Owning a home is a goal. You can engage in responsible behavior each day that may lead to achieving your goal and continue to live that value even after you have achieved the goal.

Goals that flow from values are inherently more meaningful and more likely to be achieved than those picked at random or those selected because you think you should focus on them.”

Take the goal of climbing 8a. Why do you want to climb that grade? Is it because you value the grade itself or is it a certain route you want to climb? Do you value taking on challenges? Or is it because other climbers are climbing it or talking about it that makes you want it?

Knowing why you want something and understanding the value behind a goal makes it easier to choose and engage in actions and behaviors that will lead you to success based on what’s important to YOU, not anyone else.This will enable you to avoid measuring your success only in achievement and take more from the process.

So before you set up any goals, make sure you know what your values are! But how do you figure out what you value?

Shop: Daniela's favourites

There’s an exercise called my 80th birthday which is a useful method to identify what values you hold most dear. Try it out...

It’s your 80th birthday party, you are surrounded by those who are most important to you, how would those people describe you? What would they say that you stand for, what role that you have played in their life? Would they describe you as an assertive, encouraging, and industrious person? As an authentic, caring, and respectful friend? As a compassionate, loving, and supportive parent? As an adventurous, creative, and curious free spirit?

The answers to these questions will help you identify the values you think are most important. Values focus on HOW you want to be as you move through the moments of your life, rather than on WHAT you want to achieve.

As Eisner puts it:

“If you imagine that you are looking at your life through a lens of a camera, sometimes we can get overly “zoomed in” on our goals and whether or not we are achieving them. This can often lead us to feel guilty, ashamed, overwhelmed, hopeless or self-critical. Understanding and connecting to your values is like “zooming out” to see the whole picture – that we are more than our goals. Like a camera, we need to be able to zoom out and see the whole landscape (act in alignment with our broad values on a day to day basis) AND zoom in on the finer details of a single flower (continue to pursue and evaluate our goals) – there is beauty and power in both.”  

In the bigger picture, do you think people will remember you for your achievements or how you worked to achieve them, the way you handled success and failure and the way you lived your life?

Related: Ultimate Climbing Collection

Setting Your Goals

Once you know your values you can start setting goals. Think of what you’d like to achieve and don’t be afraid to dream big! Make a list of all the things you’d like to do no matter how big or small. Some examples could be:

  • Climb more efficiently
  • Get stronger mentally
  • Climb a big wall
  • Learn to trad climb
  • Climb a new grade
  • Become a competent leader

Remember, no goal is too big or small and all goals are personal to you.

The next step is to organise your goals into categories.

  • What goals can be achieved in the short term?
  • What goals are longer term or feel impossible?
  • What goals align to your values?

By organising your list into categories it will be easier to prioritise and find a starting point.

Begin by choosing 1-3 goals you are certain you can achieve quickly and 1-3 goals you think you can achieve within 6-12 months. It’s important to find a balance of achievable and long term goals to both attain some quick wins but also challenge you as without challenge you will not develop you as a climber.

Once you have decided on which goals you’d like to work towards, it’s time to make them SMART!

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Below is an example of a goal and how we can employ the SMART logic to it:

  • Overcome fear of leading

First things first. When we set goals we want them to be positively charged! So I’ll change the first goal from 'Overcome fear of leading' to 'Be confident when leading'. It is easier and way more fun to chase a carrot than to be chased by a shark!

Then apply the SMART acronym.

Specific: Being able to separate actual dangers of a situation from perceived dangers so I can continue to climb when I’m feeling uncomfortable. Building up trust in gear placements, my belayer and my own ability to climb to my limit.

Measurable: Continuing to breathe and move even when it feels uncomfortable. I am able to calm myself down when I’m scared. I can push myself to a fall instead of down climbing or shouting 'Take!'. I feel confident going for a move I don’t know if I can do.

Achievable: It can be on easy terrain and shouldn't be on my limit. I can read articles, listen to podcasts or contact a coach that can help and guide me on the subject.

Relevant: By reaching this goal I will feel more comfortable on the wall, I can relax and will enjoy the climbing more. I can push my limits and as a bonus I may climb harder grades.

Time bound: I will set up an appointment with a coach. A good thing is to connect it to the outdoor season or a trip to try my new skills out - e.g. In 6 months I will be going on a climbing trip where I will practice my newly developed skills and confidence.

Now that you’ve chosen your goals and applied the SMART acronym it’s time to get started!

It can be helpful to share your goals with people you trust and who will support you on your journey. Keep a journal of your progress and remind yourself of where you started. Put up pictures of your trips and inspiring posters as motivation, surround yourself with people who have done what you want to do, watch movies and listen to podcasts about adventures and achievements that inspire you!

Be prepared to tackle obstacles and excuses and make sure to remind yourself of your values so that you can continue your work toward your goals! Celebrate every process you take and achievement you make, no matter how big or small as positive reinforcement and reward are vital to achieving your goals!

And most importantly...HAVE FUN and good luck on your journey!

Daniela is a professional coach, yoga teacher, rock climber & 3RD ROCK climbing ambassador based in Sweden.

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