Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb. -Greg Child
Have you ever been climbing outside when a group of tourists hike by and say, “You know, there’s an easier way up that rock around the back?”
While you might shake your head at their silly ignorance, those folks raise a really good point: Why are you sweating and grunting your way up a rock using the most difficult route possible, when your eventual goal is to get to the top?
Here’s where it might be important to take a minute to contemplate your goals and values of rock climbing.
A goal is something that can be achieved, finished, completed. If your goal is to eat an 8 oz. chocolate bar, then you can buy one and stuff the whole thing in your mouth. Tada, done.
Values are never completely accomplished. If you value consuming sugar, it’s not like you can cross this off your list after you demolish an ice cream sundae or snack on a snickers. After you finish your goal of a chocolate bar, there will always be more sugar to consume.
So as you might be coming to understand, values are a direction, not a destination, and therefore are always available to you. At any point in your life, like right NOW, you can stop and answer the question “Am I headed in my valued direction?” even if you are not yet at your final destination.
Take a moment to consider: What ARE your values when it comes to climbing? To be physically fit? To connect with friends? To seek inner peace? To be out in nature? There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to values.
Goals, unlike values, frequently involve planning and waiting. Let’s talk about Fred. While Fred’s value might be to be physically fit, his goal might be to climb a certain v10. Within this goal, there might be several steps such as working out each individual move or designating specific days of the week to working on the problem or drinking two full Nalgenes of water every morning. Several steps (or goals) might take place before the larger goal is met. However, all these goals are driven by the same value: physical fitness, which is a continuous direction. Every day that Fred reached for a goal, whether or not he reached it, he was living his values.
I think this concept is important to gain perspective in climbing. I see people getting lost in their goals without ever finding a sense of accomplishment. Frustration builds up until the joy of climbing has worn thin or actions begin to run contrary to initial underlying values. (e.g. The person who climbs to find inner peace is freaking out about falling off a seemingly easy move or because they tweaked a pulley or didn’t place well in a competition.)
So returning to the earlier example of people asking why you’re trying to climb a rock when there’s an easy hike around the back — If the goal was to get to the top of the rock, why would any of us climb? Although one is working to get to the top of the rock, the goal in climbing must be about the experience of climbing: feeling the wind in your face, laughing with friends, noticing the pleasurable strength of your body as you use it, and being in touch with the rock.
If being a climber is what you care about and it’s about that very experience—falling off a climb and throwing a wobbler or finally sending a big project after months of hard work, then embrace the process. All of it, the good and the bad. As most of us know from experience, larger goals may not actually occur right away. All kinds of things can get in the way. The point is, by walking through the different steps along the way, you are participating in “value-driven” behavior, even if the “outcome” is not what we thought it would be.
While participating in value-driven behavior does not guarantee outcomes, you are much more likely to reach your goals when behaving in valued ways. If I continue climbing for fun, I will probably eventually get closer to my goal of sending such-and-such a problem. Also, by engaging in various value-driven actions you can learn more about what you want in a valued domain. The ultimate question becomes, “What do you want your life to be about?”
Feel free to share your values and goals in the comment section below.