A Goal Should Challenge You

As a former athlete, you never truly lose your competitive side. You can ask my fiancé and friends…even game night gets a little out of control every once in a while. 

Setting Concrete Goals

As I advanced in athletics growing up, setting concrete goals became vital to success. Dedicating so much time at a young age to training, my ultimate goal was to play college sports. Turns out, that wasn’t in the cards. A season ending injury made that goal unachievable. 


Over the years, I pivoted and set new goals: to graduate from the University of Dayton, move to Cincinnati, start my career. I felt a major sense of accomplishment as I continued to cross these off of my list. 

At the start of 2019, I decided I wanted to challenge myself in a different way. A way that tapped into my competitive side and settle on a goal that seemed nearly impossible. I want to preface this by saying, heights aren’t my thing… 

The Climbing Gym

One night I joined my fiancé and friends at a local climbing gym, with equipment (and lots of band aids) in hand. When we walked into the space, I remember desperately wanting to bail. After much hesitation, I approached the shortest wall. Let’s just say it didn’t end well. I was confident this would be the last time I would ever step foot in a climbing gym. I was defeated before I started. “On to the next goal”, I thought. Little did I know, this was a key moment in my adult life. After many failed attempts, I completed the easiest route in the gym that night. And much to my surprise… I went back the next day. 

It’s been over a year since that first day on the wall, and now I climb regularly. Since that day, I’ve gained not only physical strength but immense mental strength… and a confidence I didn’t know I had. All it took was persistence. 

A Sense Of Accomplishment

Climbing a wall is a very literal sense of accomplishment. You start at the bottom, anxious, excited, potentially apprehensive. Navigate the wall using focus and trust, encountering problem after problem. One movement at a time, you’re pushed to make quick decisions and be methodical in your approach. If the climb is successful, you reach the peak. This process is not unlike real life.

A way to start any meaningful endeavor is to envision the end result. What is the big idea? How can we make this a reality? How can we become better storytellers? At Upstream, we take on the challenge of setting BIG goals, allowing curiosity and creativity to drive forward thinking. In the words of professional climber, Tommy Caldwell, “The goal is to find something that looks absurd and figure out how to do it.” In the words of the Upstream team, “our goal is to make the unreal real.”