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Measuring your achievements

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Measuring your achievements

Postby JHH60 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:27 am

I wasn't sure where to put this thread so apologies if it's off topic.

Climbing is often a goal oriented sport, so I'm sure some people here have thought about what I'm going to ask. I recently achieved a personal goal in a non-mountain related sport which I'd worked on for more than five years, and on which I'd spent many thousands of dollars for training and gear, and thousands of hours of practice, and which is important to me on a practical level because it means I'll be able to participate at that level with others who have also achieved the goal. Now that I've done it, however, I've been thinking about all the time, effort, and psychological energy I put into it, and have been trying to compare it to the effort and energy I put into some other goals I've achieved (or, in some cases, failed to achieve) in other sports and in life in general. I've also been thinking about what makes certain personal goals and achievements really important and meaningful to me, and others not so important (even if they may seem important in the "real world", like getting a promotion or making your first $10^N). Also, how I can explain to people who don't participate in an activity why certain goals are so meaningful and hard.

So my question is, when you achieve a big personal goal, do you think about how it compared to other big personal goals you've achieved in your life? How do you explain to others (or even to yourself) why certain goals are really important and why it is such a big deal to you when you achieve them?
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Re: Measuring your achievements

Postby ExcitableBoy » Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:35 am

Usually when I achieve big goals I am ultimately disappointed. I think because I always felt like if I do X then my life will be better.
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Re: Measuring your achievements

Postby Marmaduke » Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:48 am

I think to an extent, is if you have a goal and accomplish that goal it's like a victory. Sports breeds competition with the goal to be victory. We aren't brought up to just do our best and be satisfied with any outcome unless it's victory. I know that isn't always true but for the most part it is. Being second, third or near the bottom in a competition is not usually considered victory even if you did your best. Competiton and sports is all about setting goals, striving to do your best and to win or accomplish that goal.
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Re: Measuring your achievements

Postby 96avs01 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:56 am

Vitaliy M wrote:I am not looking for a better job, and care less about a promotion. All I want to do is be out there, see the sun rise, climb, see natural beauty. I am not a drug addict, I do not smoke, do not drink, have a job that supports me well, and found my passion. Do not understand why I am such a failure to many...


Seem like good goals to me, do not let others define what is satisfaction within your life. Sometimes when you live to make others happy, you find yourself miserable.
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Re: Measuring your achievements

Postby The Chief » Wed Feb 02, 2011 6:23 am

More like....
96avs01 wrote:.... when you live to make others happy, you find *will yourself miserable.

*My Addition.



I no longer find myself having goals. I haven't for a long time really. I just get up and go do it. The process being the infinite act with no real final achievement being the premise. Just the ongoing fluid act of the "NOW".

Maybe that is why I seek to immerse myself in difficult Solo Clean Aid and delving into the fine line of thin ice & rock mix-ups. Have done so for a while now. The two require that I focus and train harder in order to maintain a balance of the present reality that is right in front of me.
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Re: Measuring your achievements

Postby surgent » Wed Feb 02, 2011 4:08 pm

I have come to believe that the journey toward achieving the goal is 99% of the fun. You will likely look back on the process it took you to get to your goal with fondness, and the actual achievement itself as merely and end to all the means. The factors it took to achieve the goal can be translated into other goals (if you have some more) or in general aspects of your life. Climbing in particular teaches one patience, and that most of it is grunt-hard work, and it can really suck sometimes, and the spirit may run low, but to NOT give up. I recently achieved a personal goal: a textbook published by a major nationwide publisher. It's nice to have and to hold it, but what I really enjoyed was the long, arduous process it took to get there. I have also learned that once the goal is achieved, the vast majority of people won't care. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. I guess that's another lesson learned, too!

I suspect a lot of people have few tangible goals (and I want to differentiate here between those who have had them and understand what it takes to achieve them, versus those who have never had them). To these people, life is one long boring ennui. For pete's sake, half my "friends" on Facebook (which I abandoned recently) did nothing but play game after game after game of freaking Farmville, trying to achieve a point level to buy a tractor. Thus, trying to explain your goal and the process it took to get there will be difficult to comprehend to these people.
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Re: Measuring your achievements

Postby JHH60 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 6:38 pm

Fletch - not quite, but close. :)

Thanks for your replies, all. I think I am sorting through a bit of post-goal hangover. As in, that was a lot of effort, now it's over, seemed easier than I expected, now what the heck do I do?

Maybe I was just better prepared than I thought I was - but went in not feeling so self assured, because last time I tried something like this I wasn't prepared but didn't know it, and it was much harder than I thought it would be.

I've experienced this in the hills - when I wasn't ready for a climb, but didn't know it, and somehow survived without a total epic, it felt like a much bigger achievement than when I worked hard and consistently for a long time to be really ready, and everything just went smoothly when it came time to climb.
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Re: Measuring your achievements

Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:13 am

JHH60 wrote:So my question is, when you achieve a big personal goal, do you think about how it compared to other big personal goals you've achieved in your life? How do you explain to others (or even to yourself) why certain goals are really important and why it is such a big deal to you when you achieve them?


Interesting question.

In the introduction to his book, "El Capitan: Historic Feats and Radical Routes," Daniel Duane wrote of his quest to climb El Capitan. He said that a climb of El Capitan stood between him and the rest of his life. He described this feeling that, if he failed to climb El Capitan, he would spend the rest of his life in doubt and self-loathing. The book is really good reading, and any climber with aspirations will relate to the El Cap story told in the introduction.

Back in the days when I combed a full head of hair, it seemed that a lot of my climbing adventures were a necessary part of my path to manhood. I had to explore my capabilites, test my boundaries and prove my worth. How and why I ended up using climbing as my vehicle of self-enlightenment is not clear. I am sure that many people never go through such a period of self-introspection and self-testing, which I am sure is the reason that they later have a "mid-life crisis."

It would be difficult to explain to these people why it was important for you to risk life and limb to climb this or that. As Daniel Duane said in his book, statistically-speaking, 100% of humanity has gone through their lives without ever having to prove themselves on El Capitan.

Now that my haircuts take only 2 minutes (and cost only $5), I look back on these adventures with great fondness. Even my greatest failures bring a satisfying smile to my face. And so, to answer part of your question, I ask: Does your accompllishment make you happy? Does your accomplishment satisfy your soul? That's all that matters. I never climbed Mount Everest, and never had any desire. But I did climb El Capitan, and I will die with a smile on my face because of that accomplishment. It's a satisfaction in my gut, in my soul, that I don't have to explain to anyone. A climber will understand, but Uncle Ralph -- oh, forget it, I'm not even going to bother.

Maybe if Uncle Ralph can come to Yosemite with me and put his hands on El Capitan -- Daniel Duane says it's like putting your hands on the side of a planet -- then maybe Uncle Ralph can forge a dim understanding of the significance of climbing the Big Stone.

Later in life, at least for me, my priorities changed and so did my motivations. Is that because I've matured or is that because I've already proven myself? I don't know.

I also know that I can't be a climber forever. Multiple injuries and dislocations ended my big wall and serious alpine aspirations years ago. So I've moved on, and I'm okay with that. I still look back, with much regret, on the climbs that I never finished or never even started. But that's okay, life is ephemeral and I know that I can't do everythng. So I've set new goals that are realistic. For example, I completed my training in cave diving a few years ago. It's not Cerro Torre, but it's good enough for me.
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Re: Measuring your achievements

Postby Marmaduke » Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:36 am

The more I have read the posts here the more I realize that the word "achievement" can in fact mean something totally different to each of us. I have always thought of that word to equate to winning, thus reaching that goal. But it really doesn't have to be that. Either extending yourself to it's full potential (but not summiting) or reaching a summit or just taking in the beauty of your surroundings on a hike can all equate to achievement.

And I agree with Fletch, "hiking" and "work" are two different monsters and what those around you think about your goals or achievements with-in hiking should not affect you. Do it for yourself not to have others pat you on the back.
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Re: Measuring your achievements

Postby aran » Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:39 pm

Great question. I often find that pursuing and meeting goals has a few results: fulfillment, refreshment, emptiness, and then grappling with the bitter sweetness of being the only one to truly own and know my accomplishment.

Two experiences come to mind: back in high school I started climbing a lot with a buddy of mine a year younger. We climbed a bunch in the Valley and got ready for a bigger endeavor- first to climb the regular northwest on Half Dome then on to the dream of our dreams, El Capitan. We got in a fight over a girl the night before we were to head out and never went. Eventually we patched it up, but never went to climb in the Valley again- he went on to set 5.13s in New Zealand and I quit. What I've been left with is an incompleteness in me that will likely exist until I die or climb one of those two faces.

Last weekend I took out my crampons, some rented snowshoes, and borrowed old ice axe and headed up Tallac. Coming up to the face, the most aesthetic line was clearly the Central chute, and so I went for it. Half way up I was getting in over my head- unconsolidated snow and rock with high exposure and no experience with mixed climbing or snow conditions (I'd only just gone up Gunsight in the valley the weekend before as my first time using crampons/ axe. Plus it looked to just get worse above. I down climbed after much deliberation, and tried another variation, to get into a worse predicament. After considerable thought, I just down climbed and bounced for the day- no summit. I realized that I wasn't ready. It was disappointing, but I also felt satisfied knowing where my new limit was and where I next needed to push it. Very different from not fulfilling a dream over some bs with a good friend.

I guess what I'm considering is that, often times, goals are simply a mirror placed in front of us that offer us the opportunity to see where we are at in life. Sometimes that's a challenge to overcome, sometimes a useful reflection of how far we've come so far, wherever we're going next.

Thanks for opening the dialogue.
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Re: Measuring your achievements

Postby aran » Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:41 pm

Or maybe I just punked out of an opportunity to step up! I guess with objectives other than climbing thrown in (wife, kids, friendships)- some of my ambition needs to be balanced against these... hope it's not pathetic!
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Re: Measuring your achievements

Postby CClaude » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:11 pm

I'm like the Chief. Don't really have a goal per se. More just looking for experiences. I don't get upset about experiences since they are what they are.
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