Small Steps to Big Results

I’ve recently been looking into incremental training and micro routines as a way to generate big results; and I just wanted to share a few thought on it, and hopefully give you some ideas too for your own training, although it totally can apply to any aspect of life, from saving money, to reading more, to getting in shape, I think there’s a lot of merit in incremental training, or as I’ like to put it simply.
Getting one bit better, at one thing, everyday.

It really got me thinking about how just a few years ago, if you had said that I would be making the summit of Mt. Toubkal in 3 years time, I would have laughed! Especially because at that point I had just been up and down Snowdon and thought it was hard work! So how did I get there? Well, through just small improvements over a long period of time…

Oftentimes when we set a new training regime, we go all in and expect the world from ourselves; especially even with dieting; and obviously not everyone, but usually we might stick at it for what, a month, a week, a day even?
The idea behind this philosophy of training is you set yourself a routine, which is so simple, and so achievable you really cant say no to it. So here’s an example from Peter Schroeder:

“The first habit I started with was reading. I have never been a big reader but decided I wanted to start reading more to learn new things. Initially, I began reading one page a night before bed. Just one page, that’s it!

Anyone can read a single page of a book. No matter what, I would read before bed every single night. What I found was reading the page of the book wasn’t what was important, but rather forming the habit. It’s nearly impossible to make an excuse not to take a minute for reading a page of a book. Thus, the habit begins to form.

Photo Credit — https://unsplash.com/search/read?photo=OMXPrCAhxrE

Sometimes it was a struggle (especially after long days), but remember — it’s only one page. Eventually, I was slowly able to increase the volume in five-minute increments to get to forty-five minutes of reading a night.

Another micro-habit I was able to entrench in my life was meditation. I have always had a cluttered mind and wanted to start doing something to clear my thoughts. After some time, I landed on meditation and breathing exercises as my path to a clear mind.

I decided it would be helpful to do this every morning to clear my mind at the beginning of the day, as well as a perfect way to cap off the day when I’m winding down at night.

To kick off the meditation process, I started by meditating for a minute in the morning and at night. Establishing the process helped me to make meditation part of my routine. Now, I meditate for fifteen minutes in the morning and a half an hour at night.

The micro-habit process has also helped me esablish the routine of going to bed at 10 pm every night (with exceptions), wake up at 6 am every morning (no exceptions), not use any electronics after 8 pm, and begin to learn French.

All of these things have become baked into my daily routine through micro-habits.”

 

So when we’re looking at micro routines its not that we can’t do more, because we can, and probably do. But its that forming the routine in such a way that you can’t avoid it…well that’s a lifestyle change!

The point is, that its very easy to shy away from a commitment like exercise if it’s hugely time consuming; or if its ‘just one of those days’…even on those days as Peter said, even the 1 page of reading can be done!
But here’s some really cool things about this method:

1. You have no idea how efficient you can get! Over time you’re going to be getting so efficient at the task in hand that your results will be exponentially.

2. These micro routines will become daily habits that you soon won’t even think about.

3. You will literally be making a lifestyle change, that will last, and is actually pretty easy to fall into.

A good way to demonstrate how one small thing each day can have such a huge impact, is to look at the reverse of a positive health decision, like smoking for example:

So sure, smoke 5 cigarettes a day for a month, and you’ll probably be in okay shape.
15 a day for a year, you’re getting chesty and short of breath by now.
20 a day for 10 years, well you’re already short of breath, so chances are you’re not exercising, so also likely you’re out of shape. Also the accumulation of all those ‘one small things’ has filled your lungs with tar, chemicals, and countless cell mutations.
20 a day for 40 years? Well you know where we’re going by now, so one health condition predisposes you to the next; and this where we see the results growing exponentially.

So whether its a diet, a work-out, a new language, or to read, or to talk to old friends more, literally anything (even blogging!) it can be achieved with huge results, just taking one small incremental change each and every day.

From Snowdon, to now making plans for our first of the 7 Summits; just one small step at a time…where we will get to? Who know! We’ll let you know though for sure.

 

 

 

If you would like to check out Peter Schroeders full article, and for more on setting effective micro routines click here.

 

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Summit Fever: the obsession within, an obsession to win.

Just a couple of days ago I read the news via a Facebook page, that Russian-Polish climber Denis Urubko had split from his team and begun a solo attempt to make a winter summit of K2. His decision has been cause for concern amongst the international climbing community, and I was surprised this morning whilst eating my breakfast to see the story covered on our national news in the U.K.

map-climbingroute

Sources are now suggesting that the attempt was unsuccessful and that he had made the decision to turn back and head down to C2, one of 4 camps dotted along the line between summit and Base Camp; a welcome development as many feared for his life.
Only Denis will be able to to say what the reasons for his decision were, but a documented phenomena ‘Summit Fever’ is what many are putting his actions down to; and is not something to take lightly. Back in 1995 Alison Hillary, son of Sir Edmund, blamed Summit Fever for the catastrophic events on K2 which lead to the deaths of seven climbers – he reported:

“Summit fever had developed in that group,” he said. “There was a chemistry in there that meant they were going for the summit no matter what … They were all driving each other on. These people came together and because of the place and the atmosphere and their personalities, they became blinkered and simply focused on the top. There was no careful awareness in the group and the most dangerous thing about groups is that everyone hands over responsibility for themselves to someone else … It means that no one is taking responsibility. There can be a false sense of strength in numbers, but it doesn’t matter how big your group is – you can have 1,000 people and the mountain could still kill them all.”
(http://www.independent.co.uk/news/summit-fever-killed-hargreaves-1597490.html)

Typically characterised by poor decision making,  taking unwarranted risk, and sheer stubbornness to deviate from a laser precision target; it is not a condition which can only been found on the mountainside. It’s an obsession to achieve a goal, at all costs. It’s what leads many sporting heroes to an un-flattering demise, even in the cases of say Boxers, to brain damage.

I often have this thought when looking at some of the most amazing athletic, and adventurous achievements of people over the years; and that is –
a) Humans are amazing.
b) Humans are weird.

Indeed that was a response I had to the news of Denis, our unquenchable desire to reach new places, see new things, and explore (I mean, jeez, there’s humans currently living in Space on the I.S.S); is undoubtedly what has made us the most incredibly marvellous creatures we are; and it would be my guess that from the outside it’s easy for us to throw comments and state how stupid a person is for exposing themselves to so much risk; but I’m sure that obsession is rooted in all of us, it’s the very reason we hold such people in high regard. I recently wrote about ‘what is adventure’ and looked into some of these very things.

I’m yet to experience such a compulsion to make the summit ‘at all costs’ and in fact have been closer to quitting than ever before when on the approach to summit Mt. Toubkal, but it would be naive to think it would never happen to you.

There’s an extremely thin line between making a heroic return from the belly of the beast,  and never returning at all.

Choose your beasts wisely, because once the gauntlets are down, it’s on, your tangled in it, and there’s no easy-out – both physically and emotionally.

Choose your beasts wisely.

Keeping on top of your goals in 2018

 

We often hear that life is made up mostly of not what we do, but how we react to the things that happen to us; yes, that’s exactly it. Unlike say a commercial jet, we can’t punch in the destination into the auto-pilot, sit back and sip coffee for 12 months, and that’s pretty much what we expect when we write down our goals. Well, you don’t have an auto-pilot…well I guess you kinda do, but it’s kinda crumby and will always switch to default settings and steer you towards sitting on the sofa, eating tortilla chips, and watching Netflix… USELESS! you might think, but actually no, our Auto-Pilot is set to ‘maintain and survive’-ville, and whilst you might not be setting the world ablaze and reaching your potential, you’ll be safe, you’ll be secure, you’ll be snug. So not entirely useless, but also in no way the effective goal setting strategy enabler you need for success in 2018!

So, to continue with the analogy, without an auto-pilot function we actually need to be flying this thing, hands on the controls, pushing buttons, keeping an eye on the radar, maintaining elevation…yeah…all those things; and this is exactly what we need to do in order to navigate our goals, and the turbulent times in between them. For some people, even the first wobble of turbulence is enough for them to freak out, grab the parachute, and smash the eject button, and often times this happens say in week 3 of the new year. We want to get to Top Gun status where we can land that thing and explain when asked why we didn’t get exactly where we wanted to….“it was inverted!” (No idea how a Tom Cruise quote got in here but we’ll roll with it!)

We need to earn our wings, stay at the controls, and figure these things out. Here are 7 Steps to getting 2018 off the ground and staying in control of the goals you’ve set, and so, if you would kindly put all luggage (metaphoric and physical) in the compartments available, strap yourself in…we shall begin.

  1. So lets have look at your past performance Rookie…

A brilliant way to do this, is instead of measuring your successes against goals you may have set yourself at the back end of 2016; is to take a short while to think of 5 key moments that shaped 2017 for you. A promotion / new job / brake-down of a relationship / death of a loved one, it really could be anything, and only you will know what these 5 things are.

2. How did this affect your performance?

Now consider what that event has meant to you, the impact it has had, and consider both the positive and negatives of the event, because for sure, every ‘positive’ key moment, will bring its negatives – just as every ‘negative’ key moment, will bring along some positives.

3. You’ve landed here because of these things.

I want you to now take some time, to really appreciate these positive things; that for some reason, the world has afforded you – and also to acknowledge the resilience and strength you have handled the negatives with; and if you haven’t overcome all these; then maybe that’s a good starting point for 2018…better to resolve one set of issues, than set a whole new framework of potential issues up.

4. (L)Earn your wings.

With all that in mind, we can now begin to see how resilient we are, and pro-active we might be, and the vision that we have for change. It’s only by this ongoing reflection that we can improve our skills of piloting our own jets; and I would suggest that now these have been identified, making a conscious effort to overcome your limitations / shortcoming, would make a hugely positive difference to the year you’re about to have.

5. Recruit a Co-Pilot

Just as the case would be, I’m sure, if you were about to take to the skies, you would want like the absolute Don of a Co-Pilot. You know, the one who still wears one of those leather jackets with a fur collar, the one who landed that jet in ’82 when both engines cut out, the one who wrote the procedure book on ‘What to do when you’re caught having a nap, the controls lose power, and the visibility is zero’. Someone experienced in what you’re trying to do – and you’re trying to do life. So discussing your plans with an older person (but not always necessarily older, experience depending); can act as a great way to keep you in check, and on course to get to your destination.

6. Fly within your Limits!

Really what I’m saying here, is don’t push yourself too far, or set goals which from the start, you know are highly unlikely to be achieved. You could potentially set some really risky goals, and without the proper examination of these, the fall-out could be catastrophic – from losing assets, to losing friends / relationships, you need to make damn sure that you can handle what you’re setting out to do – your co-pilot should be a good sounding-board for when you’re feeling stretched..and this may well be one of those time you need to execute a planned ditching of your plane. But you know what…a calm sea never made a good captain, (okay okay I’m muddling my metaphors but you get my point).

7. Appropriate Usage of Auto-Pilot

As I mentioned before, your auto-pilot can be an effective tools to engage with – but a terrible tool to rely on! From time-to-time you need to rejuvenate and freshen up – initiate auto-pilot to do this; but do so with care…things get real comfortable, real quick, in auto-pilot, and before you bloody well know it, you’ll be back to the sofa, back to the snacks, and back to…well…meh.

I must apologise for the amount of flight metaphors used, I have no idea where they came from; but hopefully it all makes some sense at least; I really just want to share my feelings that without taking proper control of, and responsibility for, our goals; it can be no wonder they more often than not, end in failure.

Hopefully the parts around reflecting on past years will really line you up to make a success, no matter how big or small, of the goals you will be setting yourself up with for 2018.

 

Now…wheres that mountain?