Progress moves us forward, even if it’s tiny. It may sound self-helpy, but even reputable academic sources such as Harvard Business Review recognize the key role that progress plays in feeling good:
Consider, for example, how progress relates to one component of inner work life: overall mood ratings. Steps forward occurred on 76% of people’s best-mood days. By contrast, setbacks occurred on only 13% of those days.
Rock climbing is like that. We’ve often felt happiest in our climbing when we are making progress (whether it’s sending harder routes, leveraging better technique, or getting stronger). Recently, we’ve overcome a decade-long plateau and are climbing harder, faster, stronger, and better than before, and have felt more connected and joyous with climbing than ever. It’s all upside, baby.
Now the burning question: How?
Rock climbing has always been as much a psychological as it is a physical sport, and progressing (even incrementally) requires a two-pronged approach:
1. Create the belief in your head that progress is possible by taking intentional action
2. Take intentional action by consistently employing a strength and endurance-building training program
It’s All In Your Head
When we climb, we’re often confronted with our insecurities, frustrations, and ego. Up close and personal with the voices inside our head that tell us ‘you can’t do this’ or ‘this is way too hard’
This is our talking climbing head, and getting out of it is key to conquering our limiting beliefs and creating progress-producing beliefs around climbing.
Let’s Get Physical
Experience shows that improvement progresses best when the difficulty of routes you have done forms a stable pyramid.
–Performance Rock Climbing, Goddard and Neumann
The idea here is that climbing a v5 does not make you a v5 climber. To become a v5 climber one needs to build out a base of v4 and even v5 to establish oneself in the grade and provide the practice necessary for moving on to the next grade.
This powerhouse strategy of belief + action = progress. And progress equals…
You guessed it.