The importance of reinventing yourself through new experiences: digging yourself out of a rut and towards resilience

It is probably true that the most successful people are specialists in their respective fields of study or work, focusing on one goal and getting it right every time. Athletes generally have active, restless personalities and are willing to try almost any sport. However, when it comes to winning a game or being the best at one sport at a particular moment, most individuals tend to focus their energy on the one particular task at hand. I was a prime example of this. During the World Cup season, I had very little life outside of climbing and training for climbing.

Pic: Rainer Eider

Today I’d like to encourage you to challenge this way of thinking. Summer is a great time for this. The days are long and you can do what you love or the activity with which you are comfortable, as well as something new! It is also a time of year when the conditions outdoors, at least in the northern hemisphere, generally aren’t optimal for climbing. While I can encourage you to take advantage of these long, hot days to train for climbing and to prepare yourself the best you can for the season to come, I think it is also wise to realize that not everyone has the intention to train and better their climbing abilities. As someone who makes a living as a personal trainer – I hate to admit it – but sometimes the most productive thing for athletes stuck in a rut is a change of pace, which might mean taking a small hiatus from training. So, I think that a more suitable, but possibly more radical suggestion would be to ask you to use this time to broaden your horizons and your skillset. Are you willing to explore the possibility of reinventing yourself?

I have had the opportunity to try many styles of climbing, but I’ve always been a junky for sport climbing. Clipping into a bolt is comfortable, allows you to try hard moves very conveniently, and permits you to climb without much added weight. For several reasons I’ve always gravitated to this style of climbing. Recently, though, I have dedicated more time to evolving, improving my skill set, and have done quite a bit of aid climbing. A year ago I might have thought that this sport was a waste of time because you were relying on external material rather than pushing yourself to your physical limits, but I hadn’t really appreciated the mental process that it would require – the insecurity, the weight, the frustration. I hadn’t allowed myself to consider that straying from my comfort zone, even if it was to try something less exciting for media outlets or less technically challenging, could have a positive effect on me.

La escalada artificial. Adrenalina, confianza en la roca y la protección. Técnica, flow ( como dice mi amigo @pelutwall ). Y un proceso de aprendizaje, puede ser que no lo utilice nunca, pero aprender siempre me ha gustado. Agradecer a @climbincatalunya por enseñarme, @pelutwall por audios interminables explicativos . Y sobre todo a @blackdiamond_climb @blackdiamond por el equipamiento que me ayuda a sentirme seguro. @pucseries @lasportivagram . Gracias @javipec por el video!!!!

Gepostet von PUCtraining am Montag, 9. Juli 2018

(Watch the video on Facebook and Instagram channels! Filmed and edited by Javi Pec)

It is important to occasionally reinvent yourself. The end result isn’t always the most important factor. The most important thing is just the sheer fact that you allow yourself to be susceptible to change, to be flexible, and to be part of the creative process. This process will require physical, mental, and emotional participation. Why? To reinvent yourself or evolve you won’t be able to sit still. Your physical response creates a toughness that allows you to deal with stress, improve your physical capabilities, and engage those underused muscles. Sometimes I see climbers, who are nervous to fall, freeze on the wall and yell that they are going to fall to their belayer. I challenge them to take the next step and if they are going to fall, to at least fall while climbing. Advance. Don’t sit still. If you are going to fail miraculously, at least do it while attempting to progress, not while standing still and waiting for things to happen. You might surprise yourself and not fall after taking that next step and realize that all you had to do was just keep moving.

In addition, you won’t be able to approach your new tasks and challenges with the same mental state either. You will have to open your mind and be responsive to new techniques and information, in turn allowing you to become more mentally resilient, focused, determined, and full of willpower. As a coach, I encourage my clients to view the mind as a muscle – just like your biceps or quadriceps – that has to be constantly challenged at increasing levels in order to get stronger and become more effective at battling and overcoming new, unfamiliar, possibly even scary situations. Furthermore, your emotional response to this process will once again create an emotionally strong and robust individual able to tap into varied emotions when you need them most.

Admittedly it isn’t always easy to reinvent yourself; it requires patience, determination, and a willingness to feel like a novice all over again. Learning new skills broadens the number of situations in which you can feel like a confident, safe, informed individual. As writer C.S. Lewis said, “You’re never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” As a climber quickly approaching that infamously dreaded 4th decade, I still enjoy feeling like a young athlete when hauling up unfamiliar gear and putting my life in the hands of more experienced individuals.

“I challenge them to take the next step and if they are going to fall, to at least fall while climbing.”

That leads to my next point. It goes without saying that you will meet new people along this journey with whom you will form a bond of mutual dependence and possibly even realize just how thankful you are for your old connections as well. Thanking them (experiencing gratitude) will allow you to be more socially resilient and while you might be treading unfamiliar waters alone or with individuals you barely know, the requirement to reestablish yourself in this community and no longer occupy the comfortable, customary “ranks” within your familiar group of friends will help you to grow as a humble and malleable individual. In my recent example, it didn’t matter if I had sent sport routes at a much harder grade than some of my new companions…in this new arena of aid climbing my level of experience was greatly inferior to theirs so roles changed and they gained my utter trust and respect. I am truly grateful for the assistance they provided.

You will never be able to reinvent yourself nor evolve as an athlete without passion. This is an indispensible ingredient for success. You have the permission to be who you want to be and to do what it takes to reach your goals. Don’t wait for someone to grant it to you…just go for it, take a chance, and commit to the process. You might be pulled into unfamiliar territory, feel tired, or ask yourself why you aren’t dedicating your time to the thing you know you are already trained for, but trust me, there is a payoff and it is the journey you take. Whether you’re an athlete, an entrepreneur or an artist, the occasional reinvention might be the best way to dig yourself out of a rut and forge a new path towards new opportunities.

Pic: Javi Pec

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