SDS 204: Set Your Goals Higher

SDS 204: Set Your Goals Higher

Welcome to another FiveMinuteFriday Episode of the Super Data Science Podcast!

Finish strong! Run like it’s the last sprint you’ll ever have. But, what if we don’t really get to the finish line? Should we see this is a win or a loss? Today, we find out!

So, after the jam-packed Data Science Go 2018, I decided to explore and unwind a little bit. A friend and I decided to go hiking and enjoy sightseeing in the Yosemite National Park in California the morning after DSGO 2018. It was a pretty exciting experience since we’re new to this kind of adventure. Despite being beginners, we were down to challenge ourselves so we asked around what mountains and trails that are considered kind of extreme to hike.

At first, we chose to traverse the Half Dome peak, but at the middle of the hike, we were told about the more challenging hike the Clouds Rest trail. We wanted more thrill and opt for the more difficult one, Clouds Rest! This adventure was very memorable. We saw 2 majestic falls along the way, the Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. We met a lot of people and shared stories with each other. As we ascend, we were learning as newbie hikers; we learned what we did wrong, what we did right, and so on.

Alongside the fun part of it, there were also mishaps… We were very unprepared. For the long hours we were hiking, we only brought 3 liters for the both of us. We didn’t have harnesses with us so we didn’t really reach the top of the Half Dome. Though we were almost at the top, we took 7 hours to get there. Just imagine how exhausted we were!? I’m glad that my hike buddy, despite the exhaustion, kept pushing me to finish what we have started.

So, why am I telling you this adventure of mine? Despite not reaching the peak because of our naivety and misjudgment, I’m glad I still went for it! Though we were aiming for what seems undoable, we got very near it and we learned a lot and met new people during our hike experience. The time, the energy, and the sweat that were used were all worth it.

If you’re asking how can this be applied specifically in our field, data science, then make sure to listen in!

Set Your Goals Higher

Set Your Goals Higher

Set Your Goals Higher

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This is Five Minute Friday, episode number 204, Set Your Goals Higher.

Welcome back to the Super Data Science Podcast ladies and gentlemen, we're very excited to have you on this show today. And today's title of the episode is actually quite literal. Set Your Goals Higher. And the thing is that Paolo and I are, right now, in Yosemite National Park, which is a beautiful, wonderful place. We're super excited to be here, we're grateful to be exploring this wonderful landscape and all these mountains and hikes. If you haven't been yet, then this is a park in California, which is kind of like between San Francisco and LA and more to the east side of the state. Highly, highly recommend checking it out, it's just a majestic place, cooking dinners, lunches on the fire, goal for hikes in the early morning, and lots of places to see here.

And so how did this title, or this episode come to mind? So the thing is that we went for a hike two days ago, so the day before yesterday. We actually just arrived three days ago in the afternoon, or the evening. Then we decided, okay, tomorrow we're going to go for a hike, and we're not really hikers, we've done maybe a couple of mountains each, but not like professional hikers, or anything. So we decided, okay, we're going to go and find the most toughest challenge there is here, and go and hike that. And so we went to the reception, we asked around, what's the hardest thing, is it ...? And there's one mountain called the Half Dome, we'll post some pictures in our show notes, you'll find them in superdatascience.com/204 if you're interested to see some photos from Yosemite, and from some of these beautiful mountains, and the hikers we did. And there's this one mountain called the Half Dome. So it's called the Half Dome because it looks like there was a dome and then half of it was chopped off, if you take a vertical cross section.

And we thought that was the hardest hike, but then when we asked at reception they said, there's a hike even harder, which is called the Cloud's Rest, where clouds take their time to rest, I guess. That's how high it is and how far it is. It's actually so far that it's not even on the map, not on the local map of this village, so it's on a bigger map. So we decided to go there all the way and conquer this Cloud's Rest place. And so, charged with this confidence we decided to wake up the next morning, well two days ago, we woke up around 5:45, we were supposed to leave at 6:00, we left around 7:00. Nevertheless, we are marching away up these mountains, very naive, newborn hikers, and first stop was called the Vernal Falls. And that took us a couple of hours to get there. Then we went to Nevada Falls, that's another waterfalls that's even higher. So we're going from the floor of the Yosemite Valley, we're going higher and higher, higher. So the floor of the Yosemite Valley is about 4,000 feet above sea level, which is about 1,200 meters above sea level.

So we're going higher and higher and higher and then, eventually we get to, we meet some people who are also doing some hike, we discussed, and we're like, we're going to go to, they're also going to Cloud's Rest, but they're going to sleep over half way and then they're going to go further. We don't have any tents with us, any permits to sleep over. So that's not an option for us. We meet some other people who are going to Half Dome. So we learn a few things along the way, what's happening and stuff like that. And then we realize we're getting super tired. Another thing is that we're actually already about five hours in, or four hours in when we planned to do the whole hike in about six hours, there and back. We're about four hours in, and we're only about half way. And half way there, we're not even returning back.

And at that point we started thinking to ourselves whether it's actually realistic to get to Cloud's Rest today or not. And we decided, we calculated the distance and how fast we had been walking, and how far we're going to go. And we decided that it's actually not possible, we're only going to get there by 5:00 P.M. and then to come back it'll be already sunset, and we won't be able to get back on time because the way back, even though it's downhill, it's still quite a long way, and you need to be home before sunset, otherwise it's actually, there's bears. When we went for this walk we saw bears, we saw a mother bears, it's a black bears with two cubs. And those are not like grizzly bears that can actually kill you, but they can kill you, but they're not as aggressive, they're not going to charge at you, especially if you don't dangle any food in front of it. So we saw bears, we saw lots of squirrels, lots of deer and stuff like that.

But yeah, so basically bottom line is, it's dangerous to be out there at night, especially if you don't know how to survive in the wilderness. Another thing we found is that we didn't take enough water. Even though the recommendation was to take one liter of water per hour of hiking, we actually took, in total, less than three liters of water for the two of us. And we thought it was going to be a six hour hike, so we already took less water. But in reality, what happened is when we got to that, there's a crossroad where we could have gone right and gone for the Cloud's Rest mountain, or we could have gone left and gone for the Half Dome, which was, we originally thought was the hardest, but according to reception it wasn't the super hardest, really tough, but it wasn't the super hardest.

Anyway, so we at that point decided we're not going to get to Cloud's Rest today. We decided to turn left to go to Half Dome. And, even from there, even at that point it was well four hours in or so, even from there it took us another three hours to get to the top of Half Dome. And for those of you who have been to Yosemite I'm going to make a small caveat here. We didn't get to the very top of Half Dome because the cables are down. We got to the top of the Sub Dome, which is maybe 200 meters below the top of the Half Dome. And we didn't have our harness, or any harnesses with us. So we could't climb it.

So basically, we got almost to the very top of the Half Dome, but it took us a total of seven hours to get there, and by then we had already finished all our water, most of our food, and most of everything, and we still had the way back to go. And to get back, by then we were first, I was super tired, Paolo was pushing me. Then Paolo was super tired, I was pushing him, let's do this, we can do this, we're almost there, and so on. And really, really important to have that teamwork. But anyway, at the top of the Sub Dome, we finished our lunches and then we started our way back. Zero water, this whole way to go. And so just to put it into perspective, it's about eight and a half miles each way. So that's about 13.6 kilometers, and that's not just walking on the flats, it's going up. So as mentioned, the four, the Half Dome village where we started was about 4,000 feet elevation, or in meters that's 1,200 meters elevation. And the Half Dome itself is about 8,800 feet, or 2,695 meters.

So, in total we climbed about 1,000, so we didn't get to the very top, but it was over kilometer, definitely over kilometer, maybe over kilometer point two, 1,200 meters and about 4,000 feet that we climbed up in this whole process. So in total, it's a 17 mile hike there and back. So it took us seven hours to get to the top and another four hours to get back. We survived, we drank a lot of water, we were very tired, we slept 12 hours after that, had a rest the following day, and everything was great. But the moral of this story is of course, follow the rules. If a certain amount of water is recommended, then hydrate yourself, that's important.

But, the real essence of this story is set your goals higher. What does that mean? Well, we originally wanted to climb the Cloud's Rest mountain, which is even higher and even further, and would have taken us longer, but we were so naive and ignorant that we thought we could do it. And we didn't get scared by the fact that maybe we won't make it. We just said, set ourself the goal and we're going to go for it.

And along the way, literally, along the journey, we met people, we talked to them, some were going to the Half Dome, they explained to us why and what they were doing, and how they were going to get there. We talked to people who were going to Cloud's Rest and that they're going to have a camp over and how much water they brought and things like that. So we learned things that influenced our decision and we changed our route to get to Half Dome. And climbing Half Dome on the first day for very naive and new hikers, if you told us today that that's the journey we have to do, we would probably say no. We would probably say that is impossible. There was no way we were going to get to the top of Half Dome without any experience, without any prior preparation, without any understanding of the terrain, and things like that. We would probably say, no, because we actually later, yesterday and today, we saw Half Dome, this mountain that we actually went to, from different perspectives, from other different cliffs.

And we noticed that it's actually really far. We saw the journey that we went through, when you're in it you don't see from a bird's eye's perspective, you're in the moment. And your just seeing the trees, the path and everything seems like flowing past you and your having fun. We saw it from a different perspective, we actually saw this 3-D map on the table, and we saw that it is insane the amount, the distance that we went and climbing those two waterfalls, the elevation, everything put into perspective. If we had known this beforehand, we would have thought it would have been unreasonable to do it.

But by setting ourself a goal of not just climbing Half Dome, but climbing something even further, this Half Dome goal seemed like something totally achievable. It seemed a step down in comparison to what we originally set for ourselves.

And you can do this in any part of life, not just in hiking, or in sports and climbing, or running, or whatever, swimming it is. For instance, if you set yourself a goal of running, I don't know, 20 miles, then when you actually get to 12 miles, it seems that you just passed half way of your goal, and it feels like not such a big deal. But originally if you set yourself a goal of 12 miles, then by the time you're at eight miles, you might feel well 12 miles seems such a long distance.

And you can also do that in your career. You can do that in setting yourself a goal. For instance, I want to learn how to apply a certain type of neural network to a business problem. Well, instead of setting yourself a goal of just reading about it and maybe doing a sample problem, why don't you set yourself a goal of actually solving a big massive business challenge from [inaudible 00:11:29], or something like that. And that way, even if you don't get to your final goal that you're looking towards, the journey that you go through and the goals that you do achieve are going to be still so massive in comparison to where you started.

So that's the moral of the story here that, if you originally set your goals higher than anything you accomplish underneath that goal, even though it will seem smaller than the original goal in comparison, it will still be a great accomplishment. Having said that, it's not to say, no, I'm not saying that you should always set yourself massive goals because every single day, every single hour, or every single moment of your life you should have massive goals because that might scare away that enthusiasm or that determination. The massive goals should be set for big projects like all right, in this month I'm going to do this, or in this year I'm going to accomplish this thing. I think everybody needs, we all need a northern star that we're pointing towards. And the higher that northern star is, the higher that goal is, the easier it's going to get to us. But then, every single day, every single hour, you break it down to baby steps. In our hike, we had this goal of getting to Cloud's Rest, but it's not every single moment of the, every single step of the way we were thinking, oh, we've got another 10, 12 whatever it is miles to go. We were thinking, all right we're just going to get to this waterfall, and how are we going to get to this waterfall. So we're breaking it down to baby steps.

So, the bottom line is, set yourself high goals that will lead you on a ambitious path which might take you somewhere where you don't even know is possible, and at the same time, break it down into baby steps to get there one step at a time. So that massive goal that you're pursing is not going to scare away your determination and enthusiasm.

So, there we go, that was a little story from Yosemite. Check it out it's an amazing place. And we'll post some photos on superdatascience.com/204 if you'd like to check them out as well. And on that note, thanks so much guys for being here, and I look forward to seeing you next time, until then, happy analyzing.

Kirill Eremenko
Kirill Eremenko

I’m a Data Scientist and Entrepreneur. I also teach Data Science Online and host the SDS podcast where I interview some of the most inspiring Data Scientists from all around the world. I am passionate about bringing Data Science and Analytics to the world!

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