Last year, I took twenty Year 11 students on a mountain biking camp.
We rode through the Stromlo Forest in Canberra by day, and camped in sub zero temperatures by night.
It’s only in the last couple of months that I’ve really appreciated some of the analogies I could draw between by experiences mountain biking and success in pursuing your goals – whatever they may be.
1. The harder the climb, the bigger the thrill
I love snowboarding. The thrill you get from carving it up down the slopes is amazing, and the thrill of racing down a mountain on a bike is similar – but different.
Because with mountain biking, you really earn the thrill. Whilst when snowboarding you sit in a chairlift to reach the summit, mountain-biking requires considerably more effort.
A 10min race down the mountain, may require a 50mins climb. The climb is hard, it’s hot and you need a breather when you get to the top. But that’s when the fun really begins!
When pursing your goals, the more challenging the goal, the more satisfying the achievement.
When I’m talking to students, I throw out the following, and whilst not a universal truth it certainly acts as a provocation.
If something seems too hard, it’s probably worth doing. If something seems too easy, it probably isn’t.
2. Momentum is Your Friend
In mountain biking, you need to navigate particularly treacherous terrain. Often you need to slow right down to handle the toughest parts. But don’t stop – even though your initial instinct may be to do so! As soon as you stop, you lose your balance and over you go! (Often to the amusement of your companions!)
Momentum helps you maintain your balance, and slowly but surely helps you overcome whatever challenges the terrain presents.
When pursuing your goal, sometimes the road may appear blocked, or obstacles in your way may seem insurmountable. But again, momentum is your friend.
Keep moving forward, no matter how slowly. Any progress is good progress because as soon as you stop, you fall.
3. Keep Focused on Where You Want to Go
On a bike, your path is determined by where your eyes are looking. On a hair-pin bend you need to be looking “through the corner.” That is you need to be focused on where you are going. Not necessarily where you are. If your gaze is only on the track directly in front of you, or worse, down towards your pedals (which is the natural reaction) you’ll find yourself sliding off the track – and in the case of the Stromlo Forest down a mountain side.
When we rode along fallen tree trunks over streams, again you had to fight your natural instincts to stop (see above) and look down. You could only have eyes for the end of the tree trunk, or you’d be getting wet!
When pursuing your goals, you have to keep your eyes on the prize. Where you’re trying to get to may seem a long way off. It may be a matter of years before you’ll achieve what you’ve set out to do.
Regularly reminding yourself of what you want to achieve – and why – will help to reinvigorate your desire to keep going.
Author: Dan Haesler, he is a teacher, consultant, and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminars. He is the co-developer of Happy Schools and blogs at http://danhaesler.com/ and tweets at@danhaesler