As 2013 draws to a close it may be time to think about the year ahead and your goals. It’s all too common to start something with good intentions, but not continue past the first few weeks or the first month.
So what motivates us?
Choose something that you want to do, rather than something that you feel you should do because other people are doing it or, even worse, because other people are saying you should do it. We’d love you to try out climbing, if you’ve never done it before, or if you’re already a climber to do something new or set a new goal in climbing. This leads on to our next point…
If it’s not the right time, don’t do it now. Sometimes there is a pressure – from friends, colleagues and the media, to try something new or to set goals, but if we aren’t ready for it physically or psychologically, then we often won’t stick with it and may end up feeling a sense of failure. Be nice to yourself, but also realistic and a bit challenging, if you can.
What do I mean by this? If we feel that we have control over our situation and it’s not imposed by other people, we’re much more likely to follow things through and be happy about our decisions. If you’re not happy doing something, perhaps you could consider the alternatives or question why you’re not satisfied. In this way you can start to make changes and be in control of your satisfaction.
When we get together with people who re the right fit, then we become much more motivated to continue an activity. However, it’s easy to give something a try once and think ‘these people aren’t like me, so I’m not going back’. In the past I’ve been really guilty of doing this – not giving things a try or feeling like I don’t fit in after just one session. Climbing has really opened up my eyes in this respect – I now climb with people who I probably would never have spent any time with in the past. They’re people who I’ve grown to love and respect and whose company I really enjoy – it’s surprised me massively that I get on with people who are from so many different places in life and that it works so well.
Personally, I have found that giving myself a very specific challenge has been the best way to motivate me. A few years ago I split up with a partner and realised my friends had all moved on and I was feeling isolated. In the January I signed myself up to do a mini-triathlon in the following October. The only trouble was that I couldn’t swim more than 10 metres without withering in the water! I joined a swimming club and found a really wonderful family of people, who helped me to learn to swim and who are still my friends now, even though I don’t go to the club any more. The challenge was a tough one for me, but having a set date and specific targets (300m swim, 25k cycle and 5k run) helped me to stay focussed and train regularly.
Having our achievements recognised is an important part of feeling a part of something and creating a sense of belonging. This applies to work, but I think it also applies to climbing. It’s nice to climb with people who are positive about our progress and who help when we’re not doing so well. By making a conscious effort to recognise other people’s strengths and letting them know that we think that’s great, then other people are likely to reciprocate when they see you improve.
Some of the inspiration for this list has come from Frederick Herzberg’s research into Motivational Factors in respect of working life, but I feel that they apply, in a flexible way to other aspects of life, including climbing and doing sports. You can find a diagram Here and an explanation of Herzberg’s Motivational Theory Here.