Sometimes the best thing to do when one feels unmotivated is to start over. Not necessarily right from the beginning, but more like approaching the problem from a different angle. If it’s not working, maybe it’s because the way in which one is trying to get something done isn’t the best way specific to the individual. (One does have to confirm that laziness isn’t a factor, though!) I do believe that if one knows that he or she is to put motion to something, then there’s a solution to the problem. So, I’m scraping my last attempt at this post on getting things done and starting from a different plan of attack.
Sometimes, I get tunnel vision and find it very difficult to think outside of the box. Having people to bounce ideas off of and to be creative with is so important. I see this in action really well when I’m climbing and running. My wife, my climbing partner, and my friends all help me stay motivated and moving forward.
Michelle is a great coach and supporter, and that alone is motivating. There’s nothing more propelling than someone cheering me on. Not only that, but she knows my ups and downs and so tactfully and lovingly pushes me when things are tough. My climbing partner aids in many ways. Quintessentially, my belayer motivates me by pointing out solutions to the climbing problem and incites me on, sometimes yelling. Friends who share or are excited about my activities are valuable in their own way. If they show an interest and ask questions, that’s already an energizer. People are a vital source of energy.
Motivation does come from inside of us, and it’s also found outside of us. Whether it’s people, nature, God, or even just necessity; we work on tasks and goals spurred on and supported by ourselves and, thankfully, others.
Being newly married, Silvain and I are recently learning how our motivation differs. While I am driven by routines and structure, Silvain takes time to process and makes well-thought out decisions. For me, I find comfort in plans, regular activity, and keeping busy. I’m pushed by data, competition, and the fear of being left behind.
A few years ago two of my friends decided that a cold October day would be perfect for hiking Hayden Ridge, a mountain near our town. My first reaction was, “I have chills just thinking about it and this event was not in my weekend plans.” Two minutes later I found myself dressing in layers, packing a thermos of tea, and making sure I had extra hand warmers. The day went something like this: I froze, we got lost for part of it, and my body and mind were exhausted. Yet, I have no regrets, and I would go again in an instant.
I recently heard a psychologist speak of the idea of how flow is the prime ingredient of human happiness. It happens when what we are doing is internally exciting. I love being caught in the moment doing what I love, oblivious to what the rest of the world is doing. This can’t be forced, but I believe that my motivation can drive me to get into the flow and make lifelong memories.
This gets me thinking: should we try to improve our motivation? Do we feel down on ourselves when we aren’t as motivated as others? How do we find a balance between being motivated and overdoing it?
Silvain has taught me to be a thinker, to process my decisions, and to say “no” when I am on the verge of burning out. I have learnt that it is okay to be behind in something and it is okay to just relax and have a lazy day. I no longer compare myself to others in terms of motivation and drive. I am confident in myself, my abilities, and my goals. With Silvain on my team I feel we can achieve our goals, find flow, and push ourselves to be our very best!
Leaving Worries On the Wall
I haven’t quite figured out if climbing is good for my anxiety or if it increases it.
As expected, I definitely have increased tension before the first climb of the day, starting the moment I wake up or even before. If it’s the first day in a new area or climbing spurt, and if there’s a bit of organizing to do before, there’s additional stress. To be fair, this apprehension is no different than a transition travel day or an exam day, for example. For these more stressful mornings, I’ve found that it’s helpful to breathe, not rush, stick to routines, eat a good breakfast, hydrate, shower, and take a few moments of quiet time. As I understand myself more, I’m more able to identify my anxiety quickly, allowing me to share my thoughts with my climbing partner. Putting the climbing day in God’s hands, as with any other worries, is vital.
I find that I have almost no anxiety after climbing, even non-climbing irritations. There’s a release. Perhaps the parasympathetic system kicks in. I think that climbing helps me with my daily anxiety, teaching me how to deal with the increased anxiety of climbing might help me deal with my lesser, daily worries: a desensitization or conditioning of sorts, maybe. It teaches me that confronting a worry is at times a helpful way to heal anxiety or at least manage it.
Ironically, there’s incredible mental peace, even in the mental fright and physical shaking, while climbing. I don’t know if this is an illusion and actually just hyper-focused fight-flight-freeze or if it’s really a calmer state of mind. Maybe, they’re the same thing. However, the clarity of mind on the wall, although super aimed (ie: “Where do I put my right foot?” “OK, I need to commit to this move.”), gets me thinking that it’s not quite the same as running away from a bear. Mind you, I’ve never had to run away from one! I was mindful of scorpions, snakes, and spiders at Red Rocks; not worried, though!
The first time I went climbing, when we ventured to Juno Wall in Jasper National Park, I remember having no fear. Because partially, I fully trusted my friends to keep me safe while being on top-rope; and somewhat because, I hadn’t taken the time to fully consider all of the things that could go wrong. As I improved and pushed myself to be as good as my climbing partners, I realized that a strong mental state is imperative in becoming a great climber.
I quickly found myself being petrified of climbing above my bolt when leading, stressed when there was extra slack in the rope, and always nervous of going over the edge when coming down after a climb. Researching, practicing, and talking with fellow climbers has helped me to build a strong mind. It was exciting for me to conquer some of my fears while climbing in Red Rocks. I had a looser grip while clipping; I didn’t scream every time I was lowered; and there were times when I didn’t think twice about climbing above my bolt.
Take for example our first day at Red Rocks: I strapped on my snazzy new climbing shoes and aimed for the mindset of “how small of a rock can my foot balance upon?” With my toes screaming in agony due to unbroken-in shoes, it was great to feel the strength and control that each tiny toe gave me. As I became more confident that “Yes! My feet will hold me,” my body shook less, and I had more energy to do more climbs in the days that followed.
Then there was Day 5 of our Red Rocks adventure. This was the day that I left my fingertips on the wall. I was so focused on conquering the route that I threw my cares (or most of them, at least) out the window and pushed through the pain of gripping the crimp holds on an ice-cold, shady route. Sadly, I never did end up sending the 5.10a, but I’ll be back to finish it; hopefully, with my fingertips still intact!
Whether it’s a fearful climbing day or not, I’ve loved climbing since I started. I love how my mind is clear and focused, and the energy that I normally use to worry and stress can be rerouted into climbing energy. As a developing climber, I believe that my mental strength is just as important as my physical strength.
Who We Are
Hi! We're Michelle and Silvain: a married, Christian couple that's always seeking to learn, explore, and take on new challenges. Our adventures take us up mountains, down trails, and to faraway places. Follow us as we live, love, and are crazy! Forever!!