Are you focusing your attention on the goal itself, or are you focusing on the feeling you’ll get when you achieve it?
For a really long time, I was stuck in the idea of what it was I wanted. I would spend so much of my time thinking about and obsessing over what it was I wanted. Whether it was to achieve a particular hike, a fitness goal, a certain money goal or even a career goal, I’d focus on the item itself. I’d focus intently on the idea that I was going to climb that mountain, go to that place or create that particular sum of money that month. So much so that I’d often suffocate it.
I don’t know about you, but one of the best things about life for me is the huge range of emotions that come alongside it, and one of the reasons why I love travel, adventure and what I do with my life is because of the feelings I find myself experiencing; feelings of joy, happiness and excitement. For a long time, when I found myself in a place where it was just about achieving something, sure, I’d get there but when it happened, I’d often find myself saying ‘that’s nice, but what’s next?’
Spanish Pyrenees, January 2019, this expedition was integral to me beginning this kind of visualisation. With the harshest weather thrown at me, it was a challenge to stay present, our of feeling anxious and concentrate on serving, creating and doing a job all at the same time. Months of visualising helped me with this
The truth is that a lot of successful people do this; they’ll focus on a goal or a specific objective and work and work at it until they make it happen. Then when they get there, they’ve worked so hard on this one thing that they feel completely numb to what they’ve got that they fail to recognise what they have.
And the truth is, if you focus in this way, you’ll never be happy. Because you’ll always be looking for the next thing that you want. I’ve found this to be true about everything in life, and when its applied to specific hiking, mountain and trekking goals, its exactly the same. Focusing on ‘I want to climb X mountain’ will never make you happy. Even earning 20k in a month won’t make you happy. Earning money from travel won’t make you happy. Travelling won’t make you happy. What makes you happy are thefeelings that all of those things create.
Want to have more enriching life experiences? Feel into the feelings of what you want to create rather than the material object itself. Sounds pretty simple right?
When I heard this concept a good while ago now, this was a game changer for me. It wasn’t the first time I’d been around this concept, but it was the first time it had really sunk in. I’d been a huge fan of visualization for a long time. I’ve spent many times thrashing lengths out in the pool, and every time I’d reach a length, I would visualize a massive celebration happening when I reached the top of the mountain that was in my sights at that particular moment. For some reason, I’d not really found a way to normalise it into my every day.
It has only been in the last couple of months that I’ve really started to play around with this concept and see the success I’d have with it in many areas of my life, both specific outdoor related and also in business. I’ll give you an example:
Gaining skills in backcountry hiking and camping in California really helped me to develop the confidence I needed to our Utah adventure
When we headed to Utah and Arizona in May, I knew that there were potentially going to be some things that would put me out of my comfort zone. At the time, I had some backcountry navigating experience but not a crazy amount. I knew I wanted to enjoy this, so, I thought about how the version of me who really focused on this experience, really enjoyed it, was mindful and felt into the enrichment of the experience, would feel. I then thought about the feelings or emotions that I associated with those specific things I wanted to create; these were:
-Confidence (in myself and navigational skills)
-Switched On, Sharp (related to confidence)
-Clarity (in control of how I was reacting)
-Comfortable (in myself and my surroundings)
-Joy (enjoyment of doing this and having this experience in my reality)
I’d concentrate on closing my eyes wherever I could ahead of that trip and visualize those feelings. I’d think about the event, and think about the confidence I wanted to feel, I’d think about the comfort I’d feel by being in a place that didn’t make me feel uneasy and allowed me to concentrate on what I was there to do; enjoy myself and shoot a great body of work. I’d focus on the joy I’d feel from allowing myself to enjoy this. What’s amazing is that when you focus on the feelings you want to create, you get out of your own way and start to connect in your head the ways you’ll be able to create those feelings. For me, I knew that spending some time beforehand in California working on my hiking skills alone would really help, and in many ways, the articles I worked on with Sweaty Betty about gaining confidence hiking alone as a woman were huge contributing factors to my confidence with this.
Once you start putting this into practice, you’ll start to see some serious changes in how you experience everything it is that you’re working towards.
Working on this series with Sweaty Betty really helped me on the way to gaining an enormous amount of confidence in my backcountry skills and just hiking confidence in general
1.Think about what it is you have ahead of you that you want to achieve. Don’t think about the overall, think about the specific things you’d like to achieve. Is there a long-distance hike you have upcoming? Is there a mountain you want to climb?
2.Think about the feelings and emotions that you’d associate with having around the event. For example, if it’s a specific amount of money you’d like to have this month, it could be the feeling of safety, comfort and security having that money will provide. With a mountain, it could be confidence, pushing through resistance, feeling strong etc.
3.Visualize the feelings that you’ve thought of or written down. If you struggle with visualization, or don’t know where to start, picture yourself on the side of the mountain for example. If you really struggle with this, look up some photos on Google to get an idea before you close your eyes. With a money goal it could be imagining that amount in your bank account. You’re looking to create a sense of being there in the moment, achieving what it is you set out to do whilst feeling the feelings you’ve written down. If you’re really struggling here, the idea is that you’re aiming to get into the same vibe as the thing that you want. So, focus on an event that has happened in the past that has given you the feelings you’re working on.
4.If you find yourself focusing on the event itself, acknowledge the thought, and turn that around to the feeling you’re experiencing.
5.Feel those emotions in your everyday. The reality is that everything in our realities is just a vibration and, without getting too woo, the more you feel into the vibe of what it is that you want, the more you’ll connect with it. Ask yourself daily, ‘how can I feel more … or …. Today?’ If you want to feel more confident, can you do something today that you know will boost your confidence?
Arizona: Because of the work I’d done to help me feel into what it was I wanted rather than the thing itself, I was able to truly enjoy the experience allowing me to create a body of work I’m truly proud of from this project so far
6.Think about what action steps you can take to create the feeling that it is you want to create andnotwhat it is you want to achieve. For me, I’ll think about what it is that I can do to prepare myself to feel more confident when the event comes. Do I need to try and get to the gym four times a week? Do I need to achieve something else first to let me do this? Once you start breaking it down like this, you’ll see massive changes.
7.Meet yourself where you are not where you want to be. If you are constantly looking at what you don’t have rather than what you do, you’re literally resisting the thing that you want from materializing into your reality. If you’re focusing on ‘oh I haven’t been able to climb this mountain’ instead of ‘I’m really pleased I attempted this mountain and got further than I ever have before’ you’re forever going to be looking for the things you don’t have and that is exhausting! By focusing on all you’ve already achieved, you’re putting yourself in a much more receptive place for any brainwaves about what you might need to do or how you can get to where you want to be.
8.Enjoy the now – it might sound contradictory to what I wrote earlier about visualizing, but if you’re always looking into the future rather than where you are now and the process that you’re going through to get to where you want to be you’re going to be pretty miserable. Life doesn’t just start at the top of that hill; it starts when you see that its already happening around you. By focusing on the emotions of what you want rather than the thing itself, you’re allowing yourself to enjoy the moment and everything you’re creating in your life right now. I can promise you, that, is a wonderful thing!
Using this technique has allowed me to focus on how I want to feel whilst enjoying my adventures rather than just the end goal