HOW TO DEFEAT THE CLIMBING HABIT HOLDING YOU BACK - AVOIDANCE
"Hello. My name is Kim and I'm a perfectionist."
I don't know for sure how I became one. I'm guessing it had something to do with my childhood. There might be a sad little league story there. For whatever reason, since I was very young I remember trying very hard to be perfect at whatever I was doing. In school, I had to get straight A's, 100%'s on tests, be the fastest runner - I am an over-achiever, so… what's the problem?
One of the earliest instances I can remember foreshadowing this becoming a problem was in my junior high years while attending Black Belt Karate, one of Chuck Norris's schools in Orange County, California. I was committed to advance and earn belts quickly. After a couple of years, the coasting came to an abrupt stop. I failed a test for one of the intermediate belts. I felt cheated! I decided to quit attending that school and sought out other types of martial arts. The head instructor at the school pulled me aside and gave me a little talk. I have recalled his words several times over the years, "If you quit now it will only get easier to quit in the future. You will probably do well switching to different martial arts, but you will become a jack of all trades, and a master of none."
It did become easier for me to quit and to move to other disciplines when the going got tough. If I wasn't able to get perfect results, I felt like I needed to change my goals. This meant I often changed my dreams too.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THE CLIMBING HABIT HOLDING ME BACK?
Since I am a perfectionist, when I believe a certain climb is beyond my limits, or would cause me to fail beyond what I can handle, I will choose not to climb it. My climbing habit is avoidance. I avoid climbing routes that will expose my biggest weaknesses. I avoid situations that will likely end in a not so perfect record.
HOW TO DEFEAT SUCH A DEEP-SEATED CONDITION
1) REALIZE THAT TO GET BETTER, YOU HAVE TO FAIL
Recently, I've been fortunate enough to listen to some great climbers speak about their long-term projects. One of the most inspiring messages I've heard, "I love math and analyzing data. I once compared my falls to sends, and it revealed that I have failed 99% of the time!"
2) COMMIT TO LEARNING
Decide ahead of time that you are committed to learning, not sending. Change your focus from impressing those around you to growing from the experience, and you won't be bothered by your desire to send every route. Personal Coach, Robbie Monsma, recently advised me on how to get yourself off-the-hook. Look back at your partner before you leave the ground and say, "Watch me on this one, I may fall." The pressure is off. It is possible I will fall, since I am pushing my limits.
3) PLAN OUT YOUR DAY AHEAD OF TIME
Even better, make a checklist for each workout/climbing session. Try to make it very specific. Include all the exercises you intend to do along with specific information like sets, reps, weight, rest and notes on form. Note the time you intend to spend during your warm-up, main focus, supplemental training time and cool-down. Create the list the day before and keep it with you during your session. Without a checklist to follow it is easy to follow the crowd at the gym or the bouldering cave and give up on your goals. Continuously checking your journal will also show others you are focused on a plan. There's something magical about lists. If it's on my iPad personal calendar for the day, 99% of the time, it happens!
4) GIVE IT YOUR BEST
I recently asked Don McGrath, author of Vertical Mind, what advice he had for getting over the fear of being judged on the wall. “Realize that people are most likely not watching or judging you, and even if they are, if you are giving it your best, they will be inspired by your effort.”
Contributed by Kim Tellez, Earth Treks Personal Trainer and Instructor
Want some more mental support? Chat with one of our private coaches who are on deck to help you get started and break through to the next level.