I’m writing this on my way to Thailand for three weeks of communing with elephants, getting Thai massages, eating Thai food, and visiting temples, hiking, and rock climbing to work off the Thai calories. One my way, I spent New Year’s Eve in the air and in the Bangkok airport. Not a particularly exciting way to spend NYE, but the downtime provides an opportunity for reflection on the coming year.
I’ve never been a fan of resolutions. Resolutions are notorious for not being followed for long. People quit smoking for a few weeks, gyms are unusually full during the month of January, etc. I find that vague resolutions like “get healthier”, “spend less,” “spend more times with friends” just don’t cut it because they aren’t well defined – no time frame, deadline, definite marker that the goal has been achieved.
One of my previous goals had been to “look good in a bikini.” As someone that has never worn a bikini in her life, this is a lofty goal. How do I look good in a bikini? What’s the time frame? How will I know I’ve arrived? Is it really enough motivation to win the battle with the snooze each morning to get my lazy arse to the gym? Alas, no…The obvious wear of the snooze button is sad evidence.
Contrast that to setting a lofty but achievable goal. Mountains have always worked well for me. In 2008, I set a goal of climbing Denali. It’s a huge goal and Denali is considered a “mountaineer’s mountain” for the well rounded challenge it poses. However, it was relatively easy to achieve that goal, that is compared to the goal of looking good in a bikini…
The timeframe was distinct with a deadline – I trained from January to May. It was clear what I needed to do – train to be able to handle a heavy pack and sled at altitude for many days in a row. I went public with it – all my friends and climbing partners knew I was prepping for Denali and they joined me for training hikes and planned climbing trips with me.
I made obvious and measurable progress by carrying heavier packs and cutting my time on my training hikes. When the alarm went off, a vision of Denali popped in my head and I would jump out of bed. A side benefit was losing weight and building muscle. I tried on a bikini before heading to Alaska and thought for the first time in my life, “I think I could actually wear this in public.”
Set a big goal, even if you don’t know EXACTLY how you’ll get there. Could be a half-marathon, finding a job you love, saving money for a special vacation…As long as you really know what it means to achieve the goal, get support by going public to your friends and family, know what the first step is, and then take that first step, you would be surprised what you can achieve!
Back in 2008, I broke my collarbone three weeks before the climb and could not go to Alaska and join Mountain Trip guided climb. I trained again in 2009 and had a flawlessly executed climb with my partner, John, but on the last day I pulled a muscle or tendon in my intercostal (rib) region preventing me from breathing without pain. We had to retreat without making a bid for the summit.
Not a day has gone by when I haven’t thought about returning to that spectacular mountain. I’m making it public here that I’m heading back this May for another attempt. It’s a daunting climb for which to prepare over the next five months – food prep for 21 days, flight and shuttle logistics, permits, individual gear, group gear, refreshing crevasse rescue skills, and of course, rigorous training. I have taken the first steps of putting together a team and hiring the trainer, Courtney Schurman of Body Results, who has written training programs for me in the past.
A side benefit, I hope, will be to look good in a bikini.
What will you do in 2013???