Reflections on 2016 and Goals for 2017

by Brian Rigby, MS, CISSN



New Year's 2017

This is the second New Year this blog has seen. Over this time, 133,898 words have been written across 75 posts (an average of 1,785 words per post). Given the distance of the Earth’s orbit, that means I write approximately one word every 14,000 kilometers, which doesn’t sound very impressive until you think about how we’re all hurtling along at 108,000 kilometers every hour. Even then, it still doesn’t sound like much—perhaps astrophysical speeds are the wrong metric to use. More simply put, I average a little over one post every two weeks, and those posts tend to be long.

Last year, I provided some goals I would like Climbing Nutrition (and myself) to accomplish during 2016. I had no goals from 2015—the year this blog began—so I had nothing to reflect on. This year, before discussing what I’d like to accomplish in 2017, I’d like first to discuss how 2016 went. Goals aren’t always accomplished (certainly I didn’t accomplish all of mine), but perhaps part of the point of setting goals is merely to reflect on where we steered wrong so we can correct the course.

Reflecting on Climbing Nutrition, 2016

As we entered 2016, I declared four short-term goals for Climbing Nutrition:

  • Expand Reach
  • Hire Guest Writers
  • Earn Money
  • Tie in More to My Nutrition Business

I had mixed success with these goals, but overall I’m pleased with where Climbing Nutrition is today.

I did successfully start to earn money from Climbing Nutrition, albeit a modest amount (currently $59/month, always available to see on Climbing Nutrition’s Patreon page). I know I struggled to decide on a method, but ultimately thought that Patreon best reflected Climbing Nutrition’s values. Now, my challenge with Patreon is finding ways of rewarding patrons without making paywalls for the knowledge hosted here on Climbing Nutrition. My pride for the site is that I don’t have a pay-to-access model, but it’s hard to motivate others to become patrons if they receive nothing but an email of thanks in return. Thus, one of my goals this year will be to improve my Patreon incentive structure—but that’ll be discussed more below.

I always expanded my reach, if not quite as far as I had envisioned. I more than doubled the number of Facebook followers (one part of my goal), but did not double pageviews, which increased by an average of around 150%. Thinking on what I should have done better, my clearest answer is that I should publicly engage with the community more and share climbing and nutrition-related items I find interesting, which is something I wanted to do even in 2016 but failed at. This year, I plan on writing more “outside” the blog, whether that means sharing articles on Facebook and giving commentary, creating some “quick post” type format for short entries on the site itself, or doing something else I have yet to conceive of. Probably, it’ll be a combination.

The most glaring failure is that all of 2016 went by without a single guest author penning a post for Climbing Nutrition. Of course, no one will write something unless I either A) ask them or B) provide a clear point-of-entry for would-be guest writers, such as a “Guest Writer Guidelines” page. Both are easy to remedy, and will be.

I also had a goal of tying in my local nutrition business with Climbing Nutrition better, but I sort of changed course with that when I went the Patreon route instead. I don’t really want to tie in my other business because it doesn’t do anything for the vast majority of people here, but does distract from the overall direction of the site. So, I failed at that goal, but it was an intentional sort of failure. Instead, I merged the concept and started doing Case Studies here, a sort of public consult that every reader can benefit from.

Personal Reflections, 2016

I also set a few personal goals for myself—but unfortunately, they went a lot less well. The biggest reason why is that I hit a mental wall around July, and found myself suddenly without motivation. I’ve regained my motivation now, but looking back on why I think I was doing too much. Pacing is important, and you can only go all out for so long before you need a breather. I went all out until my motivation gave out, and it took months to recover.

While my mental break took its toll on my goals—climbing a double-digit boulder, getting super-solid on handstands, and achieving a back lever—it did give me the space necessary to evaluate how I was doing things. What stands out to me after this reflection is that I need to be better about building bases. I’m very anxious to move on after I achieve a basic level of ability with a given skill or climbing grade, and as a result I miss out on really learning everything I can from it.

In the case of handstands, this can be seen by me eagerness to move onto one-handed handstands and press handstands after only being able to hold straight handstands for an average of 20-30 seconds, with a few peak performances of 45-60 seconds (longer on parallettes). This looks like “mastery”, but I still hadn’t developed the necessary wrist, shoulder, and core strength to progress to harder variations, and when I tried, the inevitable result was a loosening of form that had reverberations back into my basic skills.

In the case of climbing, I can easily spend more time on easier grades developing more body awareness and skill. If the only thing holding me back was strength, I think I could easily climb V10 or above—but I rely on my strength too much and on skill too little, and I don’t get any more skillful from focusing only on the climbs I can brute my way through. If I want to get better, that must change.

Climbing Nutrition Goals for 2017

After reflecting on what went right and wrong in my goals last year, I think I can set some better ones for this year. Here goes:

Increase Support for Climbing Nutrition on Patreon

Last year I got a good start with $59 per month, but I’m still a long way away from being able to support myself off the blog; it’s not even equivalent to a single day of paid work. This year, I want to increase support in two ways:

  1. Reach $250/month.
  2. Reach 100 total patrons.

In pursuit of these goals, I’m going to revamp the “Rewards” and “Goals” sections so that there is more incentive to become a patron of Climbing Nutrition, and I’m going to find some better ways of promoting Climbing Nutrition’s Patreon page as well. Once I’ve done all this, I’ll write a post explaining everything so that you know!

Also, I would like to support other climber’s Patreon projects as well, I just haven’t found any when I search. If you’re aware of a project you think deserves some support, please write me and let me know about it!

Write an Article at Least Once Every Two Weeks

My overall average for how often I release articles isn’t bad, but I know that in the latter part of last year I wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked. This year, I want there to be a new article to read at least every other week—not on average, but in absolute.

Write Two New Supplement Guides

Last year I didn’t write a single new supplement guide, and that is to my regret. Writing these guides is hard—they often have over 30 references I have to read through and then piece together into a cogent conclusion—but they’re one of the things I think really set Climbing Nutrition apart from so many other nutrition blogs. This is, after all, a blog that focuses heavily on the science of nutrition, and there’s no purer example of that than when I collate the results of tens of scientific papers for the sake of your knowledge!

Personal Goals for 2017

I have only a single personal goal for 2017, which is to slow down and enjoy the time it takes to build an earthquake-proof base.

I’m turning 33 this year; if all goes well, I have another 50+ years of activity left in me. Many of the goals I’d like to achieve are skill-based, not just strength, which means there’s little purpose in rushing them anyway. I mean, if I achieved a one-handed handstand last year, what would my next step be? What would my goals for the following decades be?

Maybe that’s a weird way of putting it—there’s no point in dawdling, either—but what I mean to say is that it’s important to appreciate that skills take time to build, and that unless you’re competing for something there’s no need to rush them. If I achieve nothing aside from getting a consistent 45-second handstand this year, it’ll be good progress, because I know next year I’ll be able to reach 60-seconds, and the year after I’ll be able to press them, and the year after shift onto a single hand.

And who knows, maybe I will reach a 60-second handstand this year. But maybe I won’t. Either way, I know that it’s the foundation which makes it possible for all later skills to be solid. Without building that solid base, I’ll always be a bit wobbly.

Here’s to a Great 2017

How about you? Did you accomplish your goals in 2016? Even more importantly, did you learn anything from either your successes or failures? If you did and you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear in the comments!

Happy New Year!

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