The motivation behind the #40by40 volcano quest

When I first embarked on my quest last year to climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40, I was img_0842driven by the desire to challenge myself, push myself outside my comfort zone and find my full potential. Ultimately, I was in search of a new me, to find out who I really was and what I was capable of.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the year and a half since I started this journey of self discovery has been a bit of a rollercoaster. The mental challenge to start and continue has been immense, and it’s been a shock and something of a revelation as to how my mind works and how much I doubt myself and my abilities. And that is incredibly depressing, which really just adds further fuel to the self-doubt fire, becoming a vicious cycle of self-doubt heaped on self-doubt.

But this, of course, is just one outcome. The other outcome is to not let yourself be ruled by self-doubt and the thoughts that you aren’t good enough, fit enough, sexy enough or rich enough. This other (more positive) outcome sees you overcome and conquer self-doubt and, ultimately, achieve your dreams.

In my head, however, the self doubt still niggled – how could I possibly overcome the negativity? If I already don’t think I’m good enough then how on earth could I even expect to overcome self doubt? I should just give up now and be done with it. (You can see how self doubt worms its way in, sets up home and kills dreams).

But then I thought F**K THIS!!

Self doubt is not going to get the better of me. I am not going to let it win. Sure I will have down days and by golly I will struggle but I want to climb these god-damn 40 volcanoes, I want to get outside more, I want to roam free and wild, I want to challenge myself and have adventures, and I want to seek my full potential.

Really the only person telling me I can’t do this is me – and that is just preposterous.

And so now I have a new motivation to achieve my #40by40. I’m doing it not just to find myself but also to prove that self doubt can be overcome, that it doesn’t have to hold me back from achieving my goals and that I will be a better person for fighting it.

So bring it on!



5 thoughts on “The motivation behind the #40by40 volcano quest

  1. Hi Kat

    This is Bryony from PharmaTimes. I have somewhat creepily followed your blog without commenting for about a year now – I am interested in climbing, hiking and mountains so have kept a watch on your progress.

    I ummed and ahhed about commenting because it feels a bit presumptuous, but I really admire what you’re doing, all the more so because it seems (from reading your blog) as if you are embarking on this quest alone – the #40by40 is a personal journey, not something you’re doing with your partner or a friend (is this right?). In my experience, self-motivating and overcoming self-doubt are much easier when you are doing the activity with someone else – partly because you are so busy planning and discussing that there is no time for negativity. I find it hard enough to go to the gym unless I am meeting someone else there, so the thought of going on a volcano climbing trip is beyond impressive.

    That said, being completely honest here, I think part of the reason you have achieved 2 volcanoes out of your 40 so far is your list of volcanoes. It is exotic, impressive, continent-spanning – and quite frankly impossible unless you have tens of thousands of pounds and unlimited time at your disposal. You have four and a half years. Nothing is impossible, I hear you say, that’s just self-doubt talking. But I could arguably do with a bit more self-doubt, and even so all I see when I look at your list is money, logistics, planning, problems and more money. I’m not even doing the quest and I feel discouraged.

    You asked on your blog, ‘What is the point of a half-hearted attempt at something just for the sake of ticking boxes? This process is not about being able to say I’ve climbed 40 volcanoes just because I can but to be able to take something away from the experience.’ I would argue that the important part of your #40by40 blog is your journey rather than the volcanoes themselves. What is wrong with climbing smaller volcanoes in between planning longer trips, to get yourself out of a rut, to have some great experiences without all the stress and $$ that are incumbent with longer trips, and, yes, to get a few ticked off? Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh comes to mind, or the Auvergne region in France which is easily accessible and full of volcanoes. I climbed Arthur’s Seat last year, it was stunning, and I also had a great time in the city soaking up some Scottish history (and whiskey).

    By sticking religiously to your list you’re closing yourself off to loads of other great volcanic regions – just because they’re more accessible doesn’t make them a lesser experience, just a different one. The volcanoes on your list aren’t going anywhere. If you insist on only doing the ones you think are worthy, your 40th birthday’s going to come and you will have done only a handful of big volcanoes – when you could have done a handful of big volcanoes, PLUS a bunch of little ones to make up the 40. You have 25+ years, the rest of your life, to climb the rest of the big ones. Get the 40 done, then don’t stop!

    Just my thoughts! Good luck with the rest of the quest!

    Bryony x


  2. Hi Bryony,

    Thanks for following and for your comment. You’ve hit the nail completely on the head. Yes when I started out I set myself a list of 40 I wanted to climb but it was exactly the grandiose nature of that list that got me freaked out – the time involved with planning, the cost of the flights etc, plus the fact that several of the volcanoes are behemoths and currently outside my skill range as a mountaineer. But that in itself was a very interesting learning curve for me because of how much self-doubt that generated, and how much of a mental challenge this was (not just a physical one) and how I needed to address that. Had I not created something so outside my comfort zone, what would I have necessarily learnt?

    And as you say those 40 aren’t set in stone. I’ve really only realised that since June and as a result I’m completely changing the way I look at this journey – because you’re right, it is a journey, it’s not just about ticking off the volcanoes. But part of that journey is to also learn from my mistakes (ie giving myself a grandiose list of volcanoes) and being able to be flexible and adapt, and ultimately have an experience and still ensure some degree of success and not give up at the first hurdle, which has certainly been tempting at times. It’s exactly for this reason that when I go home to NZ in March for a holiday I’ll be aiming to climb 5 volcanoes instead of just the three I had suggested. And you’ll be glad to know I bought a book on the Auvergne volcanoes earlier in the year – the only downside is it’s in French and I don’t speak French. (Your comment is a good reminder to me as well to update my list to reflect my change in attitude).

    I think any journey one embarks on – whether it’s a goal-driven quest or just the journey of life – will evolve with time and with experience. And I think perhaps that is the beauty of it. To be honest, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing – I just want to challenge myself and find out who I am. And this journey – even though I have only climbed six volcanoes so far – is already ticking those two boxes. Self doubt aside, I couldn’t be more happy.


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