Rock climbing makes you physically and mentally stronger. And if you do keep doing it, it will also change your personality. There are aspects of it that directly translate to the rest of your life. See, rock climbing brings some skills into your life that you can use for other situations too. I learned these three interesting life lessons from rock climbing:

  1. Never hesitate after you made a plan
  2. Prepare to fall high – it hurts less than falling to the bottom
  3. Keep your balance

Climbers keep a calm head when things get ugly when the going gets tough. They need to, otherwise, they lose balance and then they’re screwed.
A lot of time when you have a hobby it brings you into situations that are specific to this hobby. Think of football or basketball: A lot of skills and things you learn are very specific for the sport. But some stuff, especially like teamwork and tactics, you can learn and apply to the rest of your life.

I learned three life lessons from rock climbing the hard way which helped me become a better climber and human being.

Never hesitate after making a plan

Hesitating too long will actively destroy any chance you have to reach your goal. The golden rule in climbing is to stay relaxed and calm. But you can overdo it too. Newbie climbers often start climbing overly slow to show off technique. And they eventually notice it uses way more energy than if they did a route quicker.

Experienced climbers know that there will be parts while you’re on your way up to the top where you have to be fast. They prepare for these sections and when they start executing there is no way back – like dynamic moves like jumps etc.

This change of slow and quick needs to be constantly practiced. If you go try a new route, sometimes you face difficulties. You might be in over your head, the routes are too hard and now you need to find a way around the crux (aka the hardest part). Maybe you’re not even sure where the next hold is, and you start to look. Now you need to be calm, don’t become hectic. Relax but keep looking for a solution. But never hesitate. If you think there is a way to go, give it your 100%. Aim for the hold and execute.

Hesitation will lead to fatigue, which will make you sweaty and intend you might not even be able to execute the move because you are too tired. Because you waited too long – see: some windows of opportunity are not open for long. You need to take action and execute when it is possible. Its the same in most situations in life: Wait for too long and the situation will play out one way or the other – only now you’re not in charge in anymore and need to live with it.

A prepared fall from high above the ground is not so bad – but don’t touch the ground

Be prepared

Taking a whipper is no big deal when you climb. It’s one of the things that intimidate new climbers, but once you get used to you quickly become familiar with it. This mindset comes from two facts you know when you are experienced enough: You have a buddy who will belay you and keep you from hitting the ground hard (your safety net), and you know that you trained it in the gym for many times. But you need these two prerequisites.

Climbing becomes very dangerous very quickly if you screw up near the ground, where you are not high enough to safely fall without touching it. This is when you CANNOT screw up or you will be in serious trouble. On the other hand, even if you are high up you can get injured badly if you are not prepared when you impact into the wall.

It’s the same in life: A fall from somewhere, like losing your job, having trouble with your partner etc is way easier to take in if you’re sufficiently prepared. This can be financial, psychologically and socially. And a fall from high up can be usually stopped before you hit rock bottom. Like losing your job: If you have a safe buffer of saved money its not a problem to take 2 months and look for a new job. Do this without some savings and you are quicker in trouble than you can say “ramen for anything”.

So keep preparing and try to be high up enough – when you take a big fall you will be thankful.

Keep your balance – it’s the most important thing

Balance is the most important thing in climbing. It’s the crucial skill most climbers learn when they start out with climbing, and it can make the difference between failing and mastering a route.

Without balance you cannot do anything, not even the easiest routes. If you watch experienced climbers you can see that some climbers are so good at keeping their balance that they can, in fact, make up for shortcomings in other areas like strength or endurance.

As long as you’re balanced you can save your energy and prepare to reach the top. Live works the same: You can hustle all you want if you start losing your balance between work and life or fun and discipline your plans will not work out. Staying in balance keeps you in game, you’re in it for the long run and what you do is sustainable.

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That’s it, these are my top three main life lessons from rock climbing I learned. There are some more, but I will talk about them in another article. Let me know if you have questions and definitely post a comment and tell me what you think!

And if you need some more practical advise: This is what you should know about your climbing shoes.