Today is another story about turning around before the end. But it’s more about making sure that I’m being inquisitive about why I do the things I do. The header photo here shows Eidetinden (Eide|tinden, isthmus pointy mountain) on the left. It’s our tallest mountain on Kjerringøy, topping out at about 1017 m above sea level. I am standing on the beach as I take this photo: Eidetinden is a perfect place for running a vertical kilometer. I set up a route on Strava the last time I was here and thought I’d give it another crack today.
The other side of Eidetinden, photo taken on the following day’s run. Travel along this road 5-6 km and you reach the trailhead for walkable access to the peak. From the side shown here, you had better have climbing skills.
I split off from my beach tour with Marie and doubled-back to the car. My favorite pair of trail shoes were still in her car from a previous adventure. Their grip is fading, but they are still the ones I trust. It turns out, though, that they weren’t cut out for the day. A recent day of rain had made the thin soil rather slippery. I stumbled and slipped several times on my way up. A few minutes after passing the tree line and getting to a new biome, my grip was no better.
How do you deal with turning around? Do you feel like you’ve given up, given in, capitulated, wimped-out? Sure, I knew I had the skills and the strength to make it up and down this mountain. But knowing why I was on this slippery slope of Eidetinden made it easier to evaluate when to turn around while on the move.
|Practice climbing with poles||Complete|
|Practice descending with poles||Still possible|
|Finish with a smile||In jeopardy (by continuing)|
|Work hard for about 30 minutes||Complete|
|Experience the peak today||Abandon|
|Run this Strava segment||Abandon|
|Run x km||Abandon*|
|Run x km this week||Abandon*|
|Be faster than person x||Abandon*|
I am learning to build goals for myself. Any time I make a goal based on numbers, it’s a red flag for me to re-evaluate or reformulate my wishes. I call this “non-numerical goal setting”. I’m sure I haven’t invented the idea, but I sure get tired of metrics. Perhaps this is strange for you to read, knowing that I make my living through science. Perhaps stripping numbers out of your goals is actually what you need.
Let’s look at this table. I tried to be honest in this writing (since I am now in the future of this event) of what I had established for myself as I clambered up the lower slopes of Eidetinden. I had honestly set my main goal as learning how to run with poles. I always want to enjoy all (or as many as possible) steps of a run and I always want to finish with a smile. Performing work “for about 30 minutes” is a minimum criterion – which I soften from a strict number with the word “about” and which has scientific foundations.
Back on the beach after my run, I got to play photographer. Marie helped me frame some shots for updating her profile photos on Outspoken Images. Here we are at Låter beach. Had I forced myself to climb Eidetinden, I would have missed the opportunity to take this photo.
The lower 5 goals on my list are lost by turning around. How important were they? It’s important for me that they are at the bottom from the moment I begin my adventure. In fact, I simplified a few for the table. I work hard to formulate these kinds of statements in reality more like “I wonder what it’s like to stand on top of Eidetinden today” or “I wonder how it might feel to run this Strava segment today”. Perhaps you will argue that my reformulation of these goals means they are no longer goal at all. I will agree with you. The remaining three goals have no value for me and I would have not made them in the first place. They are marked with an asterisk (*), and I include them here for instruction only.
Making goals and evaluating goals are both challenging. Be sure to assign value for completing the goal and to evaluate underway. I’ll write soon about the Monty Hall Problem, and why I think it’s related. Until then, I ask you to think hard when you ask yourself “What’s the point?”.