I deliberately make new years resolutions that I know I can’t keep. I specifically set goals beyond my limits because I don’t think the point of this yearly ritual is to check a box or accomplish a task. The point is to become a different person entirely. For example, if you want to be a high level athlete, you must first become the type of person who is capable of becoming a high level athlete. Then, meeting the specific goal of athletic performance becomes an extension of the normal that you’ve created for yourself. To quote Abraham Lincoln, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” These resolutions are how I sharpen the axe–and are not meant to be mistaken for the process of felling the tree.
No way out: I know that I am naturally lazy. If I don’t have some measure of accountability, I will sit on the couch watching The Simpsons all day and browsing Facebook. It’s my responsibility to know my own weaknesses and show them no mercy. I’ve often said that type 1 diabetes is one of my greatest resources for training. It forces me to be constantly aware that life and health are not guaranteed. Knowing that I have a thinner margin of error makes me pay closer attention. There’s no way out of this and that fact will force me to find a way.
I’m under no misapprehension about the difficulty that lies ahead living on the road in a tiny trailer with diabetes, a baby and my wife, while working as a freelance media producer. I am heading into the crucible to hammer out the inconsistencies between who I am and who I want to become and while I may not accomplish every goal I set–I know that I will not be able to survive as the person I am right now.
- Move every day: I can devote 30 minutes daily, at minimum to some sort of physical activity. Some days that will be a thousand feet of bigwall climbing (which will obviously take longer than a half hour). Other days that will be walking or running. Having undergone some radical lifestyle shifts in the last year, I learned how hard it can be to actually move when so much time is eaten up with commuting and computer work. I learned how to make time to sit all day and answer emails at 9pm. I can unlearn that and replace it with something better.
- Drink more water: I’m going to be in the desert and I’ll get crushed if I don’t do better than I have been doing in 2015! Again, it’s a simple adjustment, but hydration is a huge part of managing my type 1, metabolism, energy, performance and mental clarity. I feel like it’s even more important when you’re on a low carb diet and your body naturally retains less water.
- Earlier to bed and to rise: This is a big one–I feel like I really hit my stride creatively late at night, but a 3 AM bedtime leaves me feeling wrecked the next day even if I sleep for a full 8 or 9 hours, which rarely happens. Having an 18 month old has made me aware that if I want to get anything done, I have to beat her to the punch and get ahead. I think that this is one of the most common habits of people who are successful–it really made a difference for me when I tried it earlier this year. Having more time and more focus allowed me to act rather than react in my day. This has been something I’ve struggled with for my entire life. It’s a big part of “being someone different”. I’d love to climb like Ueli Steck for example. Then again, I can’t do that if I’m not ok with getting up at 3:45AM to train 5 days a week.
- Mindfulness and meditation: Even 15 minutes in the morning and evening is enough to bookend a crazy day and tie all the chaos together. I spent some time doing this in 2015 and it really amazed me. I don’t use any guidance for meditation and it’s not a search for spiritual enlightenment as such–it’s just time to be present in the moment, not looking forward or back, not worrying or thinking really. I have found best results just in sitting quietly and just being thankful for anything that pops into my mind. It’s a lot like sharpening the knife, mentally. I also can’t help but recognize that my family and I are giving up a lot to live the way we are. I don’t want to waste that time being “elsewhere” mentally at any point in my day.
- Launch a new business: I have been fortunate to find work as a freelance photographer/videographer and basic audio producer. It was a tough decision to invest in my ability and to rely on that for my families subsistence, because I haven’t exactly got a booming business at this point. I also haven’t ever really made the choice to organize my skills and offer them to the public like I mean it–largely because I haven’t felt like I’m good enough. I’ve decided to stop thinking that way because if I wait until I feel like I’m qualified it will never happen. It’s not about me or how I feel about my work as much as it is being able to create work that meets the needs of others–and that’s something I know I can do.
- Climb harder and farther: This is an area that I want to focus on without pidgeon-holing myself. I’m living on the road because I need more climbing. Inspiration is a big part of how that plays out. I don’t have a specific climb that has my name on it–yet. I am excited for that to change though. I will say that some basic goals I have are to complete a climb that is harder than I’ve done yet (5.12a/b) and to accumulate more vertical elevation gain than I did during Project365. I obviously won’t be climbing every single day consecutively but with more rest I think that breaking 79,419 feet will be achievable. Let’s shoot for 100,000 vertical feet and 5.12c. It’s gotta be a little bit scary when this is what I’m up against!
- 100 videos: I am committed to creating more this coming year. Creating is the one thing that motivates me, whether it is through climbing or with a camera. I have some big plans for the YouTube channel to push more in that direction and it starts with shooting and editing more. My goal is to shoot every single day and in addition to the 100 videos from the road, I want to create a compilation video of 1 second from each days shooting edited into a story. I believe that perfection is the enemy of productivity and that I’ve been waiting to get better instead of just doing more and making the mistakes necessary to improve.
Are New Years resolutions a good idea? I think like most things, they can be. I may not actually succeed at any of the tasks I put my mind to, but I’m certain that whatever I learn and accomplish in the meantime is a hell of a lot more valuable than preserving my own comfort.
Support LivingVertical by purchasing one of my photographs:
If you have questions or comments about any of this–leave them below! If you want to see how all of this plays out, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel–we’ll see you out there on the road!