Never Make a Decision Going Up a Hill

Scott Schwertly
3 min readSep 23, 2016


I have been competing in the sport of triathlon for quite some time and one lesson I learned years ago is to never make a decision going up a hill. If you have done any type of endurance activity, I want you to think about the moments where you had to climb a dreaded hill. You were tired. You were winded. You weren’t thinking clearly. And, that is my main point.

Making decisions on a hill is not the appropriate time to choose your course of action. In fact, any moment where there is fatigue or boredom is never the right time to decide on anything critical. Granted, when things get tough it is often a natural impulse to be quick to make a decision. Perhaps you want to quit your bike ride early, jump off the treadmill only a half mile in, or shave a few laps off your swim. Do not give into these temptations.

And the same is true for everything else in your life, including presentations. Don’t decide to choose a new career when you just got yelled at by your boss for those ugly slides. Don’t decide to divorce your spouse because you are in the middle of a fight. Don’t give up on your diet because your breakfast was too healthy and tasted disgusting. You get the point. Those are all inappropriate times to make a rational and smart decision. In fact, most of those matters are being guided by your heart and not your mind. I am all about trusting your gut and listening to your heart, but proceed with caution. Operating solely by your heart can often only lead to one thing: trouble.

A boring and gritty life is going to clutter your brain so here are a few simple ideas to keep you on the right path. Your life right at this moment is the end product of the choices you have made and continue to make each and every day. Were you gritty in enough in your past life? I hope so. If not, change your habits and you will change your life. Do the below and you will always have a clear head.

1. Get Disturbed
Your best fuel for motivation with anything in life is disturbance. It’s that easy. If you are not angry. If you are not pissed off. You will not change.

2. Focus
You need to determine what you want and unfortunately I can’t answer this one for you. You know what you want. You know what is missing. You know who you want to be. Write it down.

3. Track
Every individual embraces good or bad habits because of cues. Maybe it is a smell. Maybe it is the time of the day. Something around them is sparking them to embark in their bad or good behavior. Maybe you like to go for a run everyday at 6pm because 1) It is a stress reliever and 2) You like the cooler temps. Nonetheless, the cue in this case is the setting sun and building of stress you feel at the end of each day that needs to be removed. Track these moments.

4. Interrupt
Hopefully, everything is now being tracked so start interrupting the cues that trigger bad habits and adjust. Let me give you an example. Maybe at 7:45am every morning you want to devour an Egg McMuffin. That’s the cue. Interrupt it and adjust. Replace it with a bowl of fruit, oatmeal, or anything else that is healthy. Just acknowledge the cue that creates that bad habit and fix it.

5. Condition
Now, you want to establish positive routines through conditioning. This isn’t easy but you will get it perfected over time. Try and try again. You will get it fine tuned.

6. Reward
And finally, support your conditioning with rewards or you will find yourself unmotivated.

So when the lights go out tonight…don’t forget…we are all broken.

The question you need to ask yourself is that when the sun comes up tomorrow what are you going to do to fix yourself. You will only have a clear head if you start the above steps towards self-awareness.

Author Bio
Scott Schwertly is the Founder of Grit Base — a firm dedicated to helping others find and maintain a gritty mindset.



Scott Schwertly

Mental Performance Coach for Hockey Players | Follow for sport psychology and performance tips.