Have you failed if you don’t reach your goal?

Goals, Outcomes and Benchmarks

There is too much emphasis these days on outcomes. If you work for a government or corporate organisation, you’ll likely have KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to aim for. Even if you work for yourself, you’ll be required at some point to reach targets related to income, funding for a project, or your client’s benchmarks. Perhaps you set specific markers for yourself in your work or personal life. Whatever label you slap on them, they’re simply ‘goals’. And success is all about reaching your goal. But have you failed if you don’t reach your goal?

The Benefits of Having a Goal

Not everyone is a fan of goal-setting. Personally and professionally I love them. However I’m very choosy about what goals I commit to, as well as the finer detail that goes with them (that is, the who, how, why, when, where, what and how of the goal). I believe that having a goal to aim for can give you purpose, focus, motivation, structure, and a feeling of success when you’ve reached it.

Failing to Reach Your Goal

I also know what it’s like to NOT reach a goal. In fact there are many goals I haven’t reached. Do I consider myself a failure because I haven’t reached those goals? Definitely not. There’s much more to a goal than the final outcome (despite what business model you might be working under!)

Goals include the nitty gritty mentioned above – the who, how, why, when, where, what and how. If you only look at the ‘what’ factor (that is, the desired outcome), then you’re selling your goal short.

Real-life Examples of Failing to Reach a Goal

Overnight Expedition Fail #1

Last year I set off on an overnight backpacking trip to reach a remote bush camp on an escarpment with a small group. We knew that others had been there before. We even had some trail maps of where they’d been although we found very little other information about the area. We began our trip on an established footpad then veered uphill very steeply off track as we navigated along a ridge line. The going was very tough. There was huffing and puffing; tears; and many self-proclaimed moments of “I can’t do this!” After hours of sweating it out we realised we were simply not going to make it. The route we’d taken was described somewhere as ‘moderate’ but it was nothing like my idea of moderate at all! My new grippy-soled Merrill’s were no match for the steepness of the terrain and I couldn’t get the image of myself sliding uncontrollably down the mountain out of my mind. As dusk arrived and we were still miles away from our destination, we chose to retrace our steps back to a small saddle and set up camp for the night.

As it turned out, camping here in the middle of nowhere was the most magical experience! Stars and night sounds accompanied our tired bodies and minds as we settled down to rest after one of the most gruelling walks I’d ever done. Disappointment called loudly, but I put it in the background, completely mesmerised by what was before me.

Did I fail? Yes, it’s true I failed to reach the destination at the time I planned, but I did not fail in every other aspect of the goal. I tried my hardest on this walk, gathered more information about the terrain, discovered that having a rope would have been handy to navigate some of the steep sections, and I accidentally uncovered the world’s most amazing remote camping spot!

Remote camping
PHOTO CREDIT: Kathryn Walton (author)

Overnight Expedition Fail #2

So gruelling was this trip that I wasn’t interested in making another attempt of this same route. However last week the opportunity arose to try a different route …. to the same destination. Hmmm ….. this could be interesting! So with backpacks on, new maps and routes, a conversation with the Park Ranger to gather more local knowledge, some added confidence, and we were off. We even organised a small water cache for ourselves about 6kms from where we left our car in case we needed it on our return trip. Lesson learned from previous trip!

This time the terrain was not steep and slippery. It was rugged in a different way. Following old logging roads through rainforest proved so slow that it was almost impossible. Our planned route was entirely overgrown with woody vines, weeds, stinging trees and thickets. Navigating using map and compass seemed impossible in the thick rainforest, and using GPS was also haphazard with the dense canopy disrupting satellite communication. Progress was terribly slow. Climbing and untangling, diverting and problem-solving, re-calibrating and double-checking. We gradually made our way through the jungle.

Once again as the sun dropped low in the western sky, we acknowledged we’d failed to reach our destination once again. We’d need at least one more full day of navigating and pushing through scrub and forest to get there at this pace.

Did I fail? Yes, it’s true I did not reach the destination in the allotted timeframe, but in every other aspect I experienced success. I’d tried something new, hadn’t given up, approached each problem that arose with calmness (well, almost!), deeply appreciated the majesty of the rainforest around me, and felt connected with all who had been here before me, and all who would come after me.

Not reaching your goal does NOT equal failure!

So in my opinion, if you set a goal and don’t achieve it in the way you planned or in the time frame you set, that does NOT mean you’ve failed. It simply means you haven’t arrived there yet. It’s an opportunity to learn, re-assess, and redesign. Sometimes it’s an opportunity to say “Actually, that goal isn’t what I want after all. I’m going to change the goal post to suit me, rather than changing myself to suit the goal post.” If you don’t reach your goal, it’s not an indication of failure at all. It’s an opportunity. Go grab it!

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Women Empowered: Framing My Future with Financial Confidence

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Have you booked for the evening of retreat “Women Empowered: Framing My Future” coming up on Wednesday 21st March 2018 in Warwick, Queensland? It’s going to be an absolute delight to welcome you along! The Women Empowered retreats have been very popular in past years, and to keep up with changing times I’m offering this retreat in the evening instead of during the day. I’m keen to see how that suits everyone and whether this is a format you’d like repeated in future. I’m also keen to tell you a bit more about what to expect when you come along to “Framing My Future”.

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Dream Big!

There’s no shortage of media images these days prompting women to dream and achieve Dream Biganything they want. It’s a message that’s intended to be encouraging by chipping away at the gender stereotypes our society has constructed over many generations. For so many reasons we know that women can, and do, achieve amazing things in our world. There are many wonderful role models who inspire and propel us towards our own version of success.

Obstacles lurking beneath the surface

Yet beneath it all continues to lurk a tangle of obstacles, deeply rooted and barely visible to the eye until we dig down through the layers, bringing them into the light of day. Thus begins the process of empowering women to not only take charge of their dreams, but to have the skills to manage the obstacles along the way.

The voices in our heads

I’m a big fan of dreams (and I do a lot of dreaming!) and I’ve often written and spoken about goal-setting previously. When used appropriately, dreaming and goal-setting is very powerful. It brings us to a position of being future focused. Sure, not everyone is comfortable with this. Human brains are preset to focus on problems (that’s how humans have survived for so long!), and so our angst rises with every thought of following a dream. The barriers, the obstacles, the hurdles, the roadblocks – call them what you willthey generally get in the way preventing us from following through with actions, and even from getting started in the first place. They wield their power not so much through their actual ‘being’, but through the unseen voices in our heads telling us we can’t do it, it won’t work, we’re not good enough, and we’ll fail if we try.

Don't believe everything you thinkSounding familiar? The thing is we often don’t even realise it’s happening, and when we do notice it, we keep it to ourselves because we think we’re the only ones. But have I got news for you! All of us have those critical voices. YES! All of us! They’re the voices of self-doubt, fear, hopelessness and pessimism. They keep us small when we need to be big. And the way to deal with them is to bring them out into the open. Straight away their power begins to diminish.

Read more about the voices in my head here!

Financial confidence is an obstacle

Two of the hidden obstacles that frequently impact women are financial confidence and emotional confidence. These are the key themes at my next retreat “Framing my Future”. We’re going to dig them up and shine a light on them. We’ll bring them to the surface and get to know them a little better. We’ll scratch away and see what they’re made of. And we’ll use them to propel ourselves forwards towards our hopes and dreams for the future instead of allowing them to trip us up and keep us where we are.

Create a powerful mindset for your future!

Well actually, yes I can!The beauty of the process is that you don’t have to even have any real idea of where you want your future to be heading in order to benefit from this retreat. You’ll leave with the skills to create a powerful mindset to identify, challenge and manage your financial and emotional confidence no matter what path you take.

Retreat activities

I’m truly excited to be a part of this unique retreat! I believe when women gather together in groups with openness, warm-heartedness and shared intentions, that’s when magic happens! So I hope you’ll join us for this exquisite evening. Donna Neale-Arnold will be my co-facilitator. Donna brings a warm, caring and holistic approach to her financial therapy and homeopathy practices. She has a rich experience having worked in the corporate sector as well as community services and the health sector for many years.

Donna and I will guide you through a series of personal reflections followed by simple yet Creative Artspowerful creative activities. The gentle pace will support you to make valuable connections with your own beliefs and actions around financial confidence. You’ll identify the mindset you need to bolster your financial and emotional confidence, and to frame the future you choose. You will be provided with a light meal, delightful company and a gorgeous keepsake to take home with you that will frame your future perfectly.

Bonuses!

CD Give-awayWe will be giving away some special bonuses and door prizes at the retreat including beautiful journals, meditation cushions, carry bags, a Tony O’Connor CD of relaxation music, and more – fabulous gifts to support your self-care and progression!

Bookings are essential

Bookings are essential and limited spaces are available. It’s more fun with a friend or two (or more) so we are offering discounts when you book multiple tickets at the same time.

Here’s the deal: 3 hours of guided reflective retreat with two experienced facilitators, a light meal, all materials, a take home keepsake, a nurturing atmosphere to support your financial and emotional confidence, and opportunities to leave with a special bonus door prize.

Your investment: 

  • Single ticket: $55
  • Double ticket: $100
  • Triple ticket: $140

To book, click here

For more information view the Facebook Event here

If you have questions, email Kathryn here

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

Make it Happen! Actions to take you from surviving to thriving

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From thriving to surviving and back again

For most of my life I’ve enjoyed the challenge of setting goals and making them happen. I’ve learned that the actions I choose can take me from surviving to thriving. I love to have a go at something new, especially adventurous activities. For a few years this seemed to slow down a bit. Perhaps it was my added commitment to my young family, our relocation to a rural area, or maybe even a simple ‘rut’ I got myself into. When life was more about surviving the usual (and not so usual) childhood illnesses, school assignments, getting the bills paid, and retrenchments, I often felt a long way from thriving.

Maybe it was my approaching middle age that brought along a renewed urge to live life as fully as possible. I know that I function at my best when I have a goal to aim for, and so when I began to focus on this aspect of myself again, I rediscovered my passion for adventure. Here I will share with you the actions that took me from surviving to thriving – you can do it too!

Goal-setting and problem-solving are key skills to success

The skills of setting goals and creatively problem-solving are key factors to success. Success doesn’t just happen. You have to create it, to action it, and to problem-solve it. It doesn’t always come easily, and we often shy away from the actions we need to take. We secretly keep our inner dreams to ourselves out of fear of failure.

Get your goal out there!

best things in life start with a dreamI’m sharing with you one of my goals that I’ve had floating about in my head for a long time. Putting it out there in the public arena is definitely not easy. I have a lot of doubts about whether I’ll succeed, but if I keep suppressing my dream, there won’t be any chance of success.  

Getting clear on my goal

I’m using the post 9 Steps to Achieving Your Dreams and Goals to help me get clear on just what it is I want to achieve, and why. This clarity will give me direction and motivation.

STEP 1 – IDENTIFY AN AREA FOR CHANGE

I want my life to be filled with adventurous activities instead of ho-hum routine.

STEP 2 – STAY FOCUSED ON THE CHANGE, DON’T BE DISTRACTED BY PROBLEMATIC THOUGHTS

There are plenty of problems associated with spending more time in adventurous activities. But when I’ve overcome them I’ll be living the life I want – full of activity, travel, inspiration, energy, feeling great! I’ll focus my attention on how I want it to be instead of what the problems are.

STEP 3 – SELECT YOUR SMART GOAL

I WILL GO ON AN OVERNIGHT HIKE  – something I haven’t done before!

Is it specific? YesAre my expectations realistic?

Is it measurable? Yes

Is it achievable? Yes, I’m comfortable and competent with bushwalking and camping, so the new challenge combines this with carrying my supplies.

Is it realistic? Yes, I’m reasonably fit, healthy, strong, sensible and organised. I’ll research and access resources and networks, borrow or buy equipment that I need.

Does it have a timeframe? I’ll avoid extreme weather conditions and give myself enough lead-in time to gather and test out equipment, do my research, and train to carry the weight of my pack. Spring will be an ideal season and I can select a date closer to the time based on weather and what suits my fellow hiker/s.

STEP 4 – WRITE IT DOWN!

Yep – here it is! In the public arena too! (Talk about pressure now!) But you don’t have to go public with your goal. There’s power in simply writing it down for your own reference.

STEP 5 – KNOW YOUR WHY! COMMITMENT NOT MOTIVATION!

I want to challenge the fears that limit me. I want to connect more closely with nature and discover my part in the world, learn to trust myself and stretch my limits, tap into my inner strength, develop self-reliance, and I want to finally use the backpack I bought years ago! When I feel unmotivated, I can look back at my “why” and stay committed to my goal.

STEP 6 – BREAK IT DOWN into steps
  • Research places, people, information, equipment
  • Talk to others who might like to share the adventure with me
  • Identify and collect equipment 
  • Trial various hiking foods and equipment
  • Go on training hikes with increasing distance and weight in back pack
  • Select a date (and a couple of back-up dates in case of adverse weather, sickness etc) and book campsites if necessary
STEP 7 – STEP INTO YOUR GOAL

I’ll take each step one at a time and gradually work my way towards an overnight hike.

STEP 8 – CREATIVELY PROBLEM-SOLVE ISSUES THAT ARISE

There are some predictable problems, and other new ones might arise. But I won’t give up – I’ll use the Creative Problem-solving Train (keep reading).

With any obstacle quote

STEP 9 – REWARD YOURSELF!

External rewards can be a blast, but that feeling of success I’ll have when I’ve achieved this goal – yeah, that – that’ll be my reward 🙂

6 steps to smash my goal usingThe Problem-solving Train’

Before I even get started, I’m thinking of all the ways that I could fail! So here I’m using the Problem-solving Train to anticipate and manage the obstacles.

STEP 1 – Probable, possible and unlikely problems

Is it probable? Is it possible" Is it unlikely?Probable problems: no toilets or showers, snakes, sore back and shoulders

Possible problems: hot weather, cold weather, rain, leeches, bush ticks, insufficient drinking water, equipment too heavy or too expensive, no child care, fire danger

Unlikely problems: I might be miserable, difficulty finding a suitable hiking buddy, sickness

STEP 2- choose one probable problem and brainstorm solutions

Probable problem #1: No toilets or showers

Brainstormed solutions: Hike near, and camp overnight at a site with facilities, read about and listen to podcasts about bush toilet hygiene, read stories of overnight hikers, hold on and avoid toileting as much as possible,  take a porta-loo, find out about toileting aids for bushwalkers, have a wash down or swim instead of a shower, avoid extremely hot weather, talk to experienced hikers about bush hygiene, remind myself that if others can do it so can I, think about how clean I’ll feel when I get to shower afterwards – WOW! There sure is a lot of possibilities here!

STEP 3 – pros and cons

Most of my brainstormed solutions are quite useful and viable, although I don’t think I’ll take a porta-loo (too heavy, smelly, awkward, embarrassing) and I don’t think it’s a good idea to avoid toileting (hmmm, that could be uncomfortable and bring on health problems).

STEP 4THE BEST OPTION/S

I think it’s best to deal with this problem from multiple angles so I’m going to include several action-based and mind-based strategies in my Plan of Action to deal with this problem.

STEP 5 – PLAN OF ACTION

What's my plan of action to deal with this issue?Choose a route and campsite for my first overnight hike that has facilities

Read about and listen to podcasts about bush toilet hygiene – this could come in handy someday even if I don’t need it this time!

Talk to experienced hikers about my plans including managing bush hygiene

Read stories written by overnight hikers

Find out about lightweight toileting aids for bushwalkers

Remind myself that if others can do it, so can I!

STEP 6 – REVIEW

Once I’ve actioned my plan I can review it, even before I go on my first overnight hike. Am IWell actually, yes I can! feeling more comfortable about the issue of toileting and showering on my overnight hike? Are there any new problems I need to address? I can go back to my other brainstormed solutions, or come up with new ones. I can flex my plans to help me achieve my goal instead of simply giving up. I can push through the discomfort of the plan not working out perfectly, and tap into my determined attitude to succeed.

Keep on solving!

Once I’ve got my plans in place for all the probable and possible problems I’ve identified, it’s full steam ahead. I’m already most of the way there! It’s in this phase of identifying and then creatively solving the problems that most people get stuck. It’s this process that makes the difference on the road to success. And for me personally, it’s an exciting ride moving from surviving to thriving, making my goal of living an adventurous life a reality instead of leaving it as a whimsical dream. Stay tuned for future updates as I smash this goal!

SMART Goals WorksheetFREE GIFT! To help you clarify and action YOUR goal (whether it’s big or small or anywhere in between), download your FREE printable Create Success With SMART Goals. This handy worksheet will step you through a simplified process to identify your S.M.A.R.T. goal, your “why”, the steps you need to take to achieve your goal, any problems that might get in the way of success, and creative solutions that will propel you towards success.

Click here to download your FREE printable “Create Success With SMART Goals” from the RESOURCES tab on my website, and check out the other printables and resources while you’re there!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

9 Steps to Achieving Your Dreams and Goals

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Goals, resolutions, targets, dreams, visions….. Some of us love them. Some of us hate them. It’s understandable that you might be sceptical about them. Sometimes we set plans with good intentions and end up disappointed. Life happens in all its chaotic glory and sends our plans awry, we lose sight of our intended destination and lose hope, or we become despondent with ourselves, others or the world around us. Maybe we even forget what our goal was, or our priorities change and we let it go. Perhaps we achieve our goal but the reward at the end just isn’t there, as if the goal post has been shifted, or we’ve been deceived about the expected benefits. We can doubt our capacity to achieve what we set out to. In order to protect ourselves from further hurt and wasted energy we swear never to set New Year’s Resolutions again because they just don’t work. Sound familiar?

How I love goals! Let me count the ways! 

I love goals. I have daily lists to help me stay focused and efficient. I also have weekly, monthly, 3 month, 12 month and 3 year work goals. I’m flexible with them, and at the same Daisies reach for the suntime I respect them. I teach many individuals and groups how to use goals to enhance their mental health and wellness, and I see amazing progress when they are used effectively. I also use goals in my personal life. I love the sense of satisfaction, self-worth and achievement that comes with goals. Goals also nurture inner skills such as persistence, patience, organisation, and problem-solving which can be applied to all sorts of other situations in life, and can have a therapeutic effect on your mind.

Goal-setting is a learned skill

Effective goal-setting is a learned skill. Once you have it, the sky’s the limit! But the down-side is that if you experience a sense of failure with your goal, and if you don’t adjust your sails and use creative problem-solving, it can put you off for life. Remember to practise, persist, and problem-solve just as you would with any other skill!

9 steps to achieve your goal successfully

Step 1 – Identify an area for change

Identify one area in your life where you’d like to see some change. Select something you have some control over that centres around yourself. Focusing on things outside your control sets you up for failure. Where would you like to see a change?

  • work
  • relationshipsMake space for change - rocky expanse
  • friends
  • lifestyle
  • health
  • spirituality
  • finances
  • family
  • home
  • recreation
  • __________
Step 2 – Stay focused on the change, don’t be distracted by problematic thoughts

You might notice your thoughts jumping straight away to all the problems, barriers, obstacles and impossibilities associated with your desired change. For now, acknowledge your brain is doing its job of trying to protect you from failure, and try to let go of those thoughts. We’ll be coming back to them so stay focused on your desired change for now.

Step 3 – Select your SMART goal

SMART is an acronym to help you remember the key elements that can make or break your goal.

  1. S – Specific Know exactly what your goal is. Take the area you selected in Step 1 and narrow your goal down as much as possible. Keep it simple, clear, concise and specific. Vague, general statements about your goals are not helpful – they lack direction.
  2. M – Measurable How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? If you’ve left your goal as a vague statement (eg “Get fit”) how will you know when you’ve achieved it? Being specific will help you to measure it (eg “Swim non-stop for 15 minutes”).
  3. A – Attainable Set yourself up for success! What are your expectations? Is your goal achievable?
  4. R – Realistic Are you being realistic with your goal? Do you have access to the resources and supports you’ll need? Do you have the energy to put into it?
  5. T – Time frame Set a time frame to achieve your goal. Deadlines help us stay focused. Be flexibile though so that you can make adjustments if your goal takes longer than expected.
Step 4 – Write it down!

This is a really powerful action to take! Writing it down makes it more real, more tangible. Share it with others if you like, or come back and look at it yourself as a daily reminder to keep you actions in flow with your goal. It’s your personal marketing plan designed to keep you coming back again and again to what’s important to you.

Step 5 – Know your WHY! Commitment not motivation!

Motivation is a very temporary and fickle thing. It can’t be relied on. Commitment is what will keep you working on your goal whether you feel motivated or not! Why is your goal important to you? For your overall health? To keep up with your kids / grandkids? To have more financial freedom? Something else? Write your WHY down next to your SMART GOAL. It will keep your compass pointed in the right direction.

Step 6 – Break it down

Write down 5-10 steps (in order) you’ll need to take to achieve your goal. If your goal is to swim non-stop for 15 minutes, the steps might include:

  • buy suitable swimming attire
  • find out about pool membership / entry fees
  • go to swimming squad once a week to improve technique and fitness
  • ask a friend to be a swimming buddy
  • swim at least 3 times a week
  • swim 1 lap non-stop
  • swim 5 minutes non-stop
  • swim 10 minutes non-stop
  • swim 15 minutes non-stop.
Step 7 – Step into your goal

Take each step one at a time.

Step 8 – Creatively problem-solve issues that arise

I can I willRemember all those problems your mind started to thinking about in Step 2? Problem-solving is where the power is (another blog later this month will look at this in more detail). Persistence makes all the difference between giving up on your goal (and yourself) and being unstoppable. Some of the problems will be predictable and you’ll be able to plan for them. Others less so.

Step 9 – Reward yourself!

What will be your reward when you’ve accomplished your plan? Will it be an inner sense of satisfaction? The simple pleasure of knowing you’ve done what you set out to do? Improved energy or a sense of wellness? Or will it be an external reward like buying yourself a new set of flippers? Or perhaps entering a race? A word of caution here to make sure your reward aligns well with your goal and that you don’t self-sabotage your efforts.

More on goals, obstacles and problem-solving soon!

You might have guessed by now that this month’s theme is all about GOALS! Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing with you one of my own personal goals using the 9 steps listed above. I’ll be delving into the barriers I’ve identified to achieving my goal, and I’ll share with you the not-so-secret secrets to creative problem-solving so that we can get ourselves unstuck when things get tricky.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

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5 Things I’ve Learned About Life Through Mountain Biking

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe was an unexpected bonus to the fresh air, exercise and family time that initially motivated me to jump on my bike and get into the great Australian bush. Over the past few years I’ve managed to improve my riding skills somewhat, but what I’ve truly learned is much, much bigger than how to keep the rubber side down! Here I would like to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned about life through mountain biking.

Daisy Field

1. Look where you want to go

When you focus your attention on something right in front of you, it immediately becomes an obstacle between yourself and your end goal. On a mountain bike this might be a rock, tree root, or a deep rut in the track. You can be guaranteed as soon as you fix your attention on it, well ….. that’s where you’ll go! The trick is to acknowledge the presence of the obstacle but stay most attentive to the line you actually want to take. It’s the same in life generally. It’s so easy to get caught up in the distractions around us, the bumps and hiccups in our day, and to lose sight of our end goal. It’s so easy to give up when those unexpected obstacles get in our way. But this lesson is a keeper! Keep your eyes looking where you WANT to go.

MTBLook

2. Lean into what you most fear

So much of mountain biking seems counter-intuitive to me. My inner child has a strong survival instinct and tells me loud and clear that if something looks dangerous, I should get as far away from it as I can. And so it happens that learning various MTB skills such as cornering and negotiating steep descents has been a big challenge for me. Leaning into the curve and getting closer to the (very hard rocky) ground that’s whizzing past just doesn’t seem to make sense. Yet it works time and time again! Acknowledging and then leaning into other things we fear in life can be likewise empowering – going to learn-to-swim classes as an adult to deal with a fear of water, accepting a work role that will extend your skills beyond your self-belief, or even going shopping alone. We all have fears and we all have the opportunity of experiencing the sensation of empowerment that comes when we confront and lean into them instead of running away from them.

3. Going slow is okay

I’m pretty much a slow-poke on my MTB. At least I am when it comes to going downhill or over the technical terrain. I’ve been very hard on myself at times for not being able to keep up with others, especially when I’ve practised hard and haven’t seen any significant improvement. But do you know what I’ve learned? ‘Fast’ is not superior to ‘not the fastest’ (unless you’re in serious racemode of course!). But really, when it comes down to it, what actually makes ‘fast’ such a desirable state of being in our society? Giving myself permission to go at my own pace whether it’s on my bike, swimming at the pool, or working on a project, seems to help me focus on moment-to-moment enjoyment which truly enriches my life. Going slow, or slower, or at my own pace, does not equate with failure or being deficient in anyway. Slowing down other parts of my life helps me to meaningfully engage with those things and those people that matter the most to me.

RiderInForest

4. Take a break when you need it

All-out fast paced riding up hills, down rocky terrain, winding through bush trails, dodging tree roots, negotiating loose rocks, squeezing between trees – it’s exhausting work for the body and mind! There’s always that one person, you know them …… the eternal chatterbox ….. who seems to be able to keep nattering on endlessly and cheerfully and looks surprised when you don’t answer because OH MY GOSH ….. my heart rate has been sitting on 172 for the past 10 minutes, my heart feels like it’s going to burst out of my chest, and my head is so light it feels like it’s going to float away! I need a break! And even if the rest of you don’t, I’ve learnt from past experience to speak up and express my needs otherwise I’m likely to run out of fuel before we get to the end. Same in life – anything and anyone runs smoother and more efficiently given time to rest and collect. Listen to your mind and body – do what you need to in order to get it done. It’s not a weakness to have a break, and in fact, others will probably be secretly very thankful!

5. Practice, practice, practice

As a child and younger adult, there were many things that seemed to come naturally to me. Anything that I couldn’t do pretty well the first time I tried it, well … basically I didn’t bother too much about it again. I never really learned much about persistence when the going got tough! I don’t recall anyone teaching me to ride a bike. It’s one of those things that seemed to come naturally. However, MTB is vastly different to riding on a road or concrete path or even your average back yard. The techniques and skills required to safely negotiate the rough and often narrow terrain of single track have often seemed insurmountable to me, the middle-aged female trying to prove her worth. So, with humility, I’ve learnt that I can practise and persist at practising, and then practise some more. And eventually, gradually I learn new skills. I figure there’s a heck of a lot of brain-rewiring going on up there as I try, retry and try again, day after day after day, and then still needing lots more practice to get it right. In my work life, this lesson of persisting and practising has enabled me to implement some much needed changes that would otherwise have never happened.

These are my first life lessons learned through mountain biking, but they are not my last. I continue to learn and grow as a rider and as a human being. Watch out for my upcoming article “Another 5 Things I’ve Learned About Life Through Mountain Biking”.

Daisy Field