I have just returned from a fantastic family skiing holiday in Whistler, Canada.
On Tuesday I managed to cross one of my goals off my Bucket List.
I have been skiing for many years now and I am quite happy just cruising down the slopes, minding my own business. I call it ‘Motorway Skiing’ – namely travelling quite fast along nicely groomed pistes, while remaining in my comfort zone and not really pushing myself.
Two years ago, I decided to raise the bar. I set myself a target and made it known that I was going to ski a double black. This was my goal :
“It is April 2016 and I have skied the Pakalolo Double Black Diamond Run on Blackcomb Mountain, Whistler.
I skied with my family and I was still fit and healthy when I completed it.”
This for me was a Bad-Ass Goal. Jack Canfield calls it a BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal.
Upon reflection – I gained way more than just stroking this goal off my list. The benefits went way deeper including, confidence, self belief and that sense of achievement.
I learned that there is actually a structure to goal setting; it’s not just a matter of hoping for the best:
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ~~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
1. Dream Big.
I call this ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’. Set goals that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
For me, this goal did just that.
No sooner had I set this goal, that my mindset started to change. I had to start pushing myself. In the past, I would have let the rest of the family ski the advanced slopes and I would have met them at the bottom, by way of an easier route. But now, I had to start improving. Throughout the process, my unconscious mind was committed to this goal – way before I was capable of achieving it. I started to join in rather than watch from the sidelines, and as a result, I started having more fun. Yes, there were tumbles and frustrations along the way. But there was also much hilarity and my skiing started to improve.
NLP has taught me that to accomplish anything of significance – we need to push ourselves; and slowly, my unconscious mind started finding ways to make this goal possible.
The Learning : Dream Big. What’s the worst that can happen?
“Aim for the moon, at least if you miss, you will land among the stars.” ~~ Les Brown
2. Visualise it.
There is an NLP technique we use that is extremely powerful. By changing your mindset and your emotions ( what we call State ) it helps you prepare for challenges in the future.
The trick is to imagine the scenario frame-by-frame as often as you can. This allows the unconscious mind time to buy into the process. Then, by placing yourself in the picture and enveloping yourself in the scene you’ll be able to :
a ) SEE what you’ll see
* I pictured the astonishingly narrow entrance to the run with the vertical rock face either side
* I pictured the steep slope – something that could give, even the hardened skier a touch of vertigo
* I imagined too the moguls and the bumps, so big and closely packed together that there was no discernible path through them
b ) FEEL what you’ll feel
* I felt the adrenalin rushing through my body as I took the chairlift and T-bar up to the highest point of the ridge
* I felt the fear – using it to fuel my anticipation of the task that lay ahead
* I experienced the nerves as I stood at the top, peering down at the obstacles below
c ) HEAR what you’ll hear
* I listened to the words of encouragement from those I was skiing with
* I imagined the crunch of the snow ( and ice ) as I traversed the slope
* I tried to fade out the inner critic in my head yelling at me … “Are you totally mad?!”
* I heard my own screeches as I careered across the slope – desperately trying to find the edges of my skis to keep me in control
“If you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right.” ~~ Henry Ford
Not surprisingly, this is a technique familiar to many in the sporting arena.
It really works. So much so – that on the day that we decided to do the run ( thankfully I was only given 15 minutes notice – so I didn’t really have time to freak ) I felt only calm and the sense of gratitude that I was totally prepared for this.
The Learning : By acclimatising yourself to the task ahead and addressing all your fears and doubts prior to the event – the positive outcome is almost a foregone conclusion.
3. Be Specific.
My goal stated :
“It is April 2016 and I have skied the Pakalolo Double Black Diamond Run on Blackcomb Mountain, Whistler.”
My goal stated :
“I skied with my family and I was still fit and healthy when I completed it.”
For 2 years, I kept visualising this goal; and on Tuesday, I pushed through my fears and I succeeded. It wasn’t pretty. Technically it was lacking. BUT, I completed the Pakalolo Run; and I was still standing.
However, it didn’t all go according to plan.
After Pakalolo, there is quite a lot of mountain yet to ski – and this was the bit I had not visualised. That’s when it all went so badly wrong. I was over confident and buoyed up over my achievements and for a split second my concentration lapsed. I was too focused on the run itself that I had omitted to imagine the task to FULL completion.
I fell in the most spectacular fashion. I somersaulted, more than once. Just like a rag doll tumbling down the mountainside – just shy of 80 meters. I am sure I provided great entertainment for those skiers on the chairlift – getting a bird’s eye view of my epic fall.
I had failed to visualise my transition from the completion of the Pakalolo to the bottom of the slope. My unconscious mind shouted “ Job Done! You’re on your own Love.”
The Learning : Tie your goals down as best you can – so there’s no wiggle room.
4. Be Accountable and get Support.
From the very moment I set this goal – I told my family about it. For them, there was never any question that I wouldn’t achieve this; and they immediately set out to help and support me.
Over the next 2 years, the kids coached me; teaching me how to cope with moguls and to execute hockey stops ( in retrospect, I should have listened more ). Collectively, Mike and the kids helped me attempt runs that, previously, I wouldn’t even have considered.
In the early days, there were a number of times I wanted to back out. However, the more I visualised and imagined my success, I gained the confidence I needed. Anyway, pride prevailed and I was damned if I was going to let the nerves get the better of me.
As Sir Richard Branson so eloquently puts it …
“Screw it! Let’s do it!”
The Learning : When you ‘go public’ it acts as a motivator when the inevitable doubts set in.
5. No such thing as failure – only feedback.
OK, so it wasn’t the most stylish descent ever witnessed.
However, just for the record – a Double Black Diamond is not to be sniffed at. I guess it’s all relative. In fairness – for those accompanying me, their challenge was not so great – as they are all very accomplished skiers in their own right. But for me – in skiing terms – it’s probably as badass as I’m ever going to get. I am grateful ( and proud ) that I achieved what I set out to do.
Even though it was an epic fall – I don’t consider it an epic fail.
The Learning : Sometimes, the end result is not quite as expected. But by not trying – we achieve nothing.
What’s really exciting is that by smashing one goal, it opens the door to making all the other BHAGs that much more plausible.
All too often – having reached our goal, we put our heads down and advance to the next target; without pausing to acknowledge our achievements.
A bit like a child opening their presents at Christmas – we carry on regardless, without stopping or coming up for breath.
My mentor taught me that half of the fun in completing a goal is to stop and congratulate ourselves; to savour the moment.
So, in celebration, I took the following day off and rewarded myself with a Hot Stones Massage; my aching limbs needed the attention.
The Learning : Part of the process is to acknowledge our successes and the efforts we have invested to achieve our dreams.
So what’s next?
Well, I still have a long list of goals I want to achieve. Some BHAGs and others – not so much.
What I do know for sure is that I won’t be racing back to Pakalolo. I will, more than likely return to my comfort zone; which it totally OK by me.
Much Love 💕