Happy New Year CrossFitters! It’s the beginning of 2015, and with the Open a little over a month away, the affiliate community is once again buzzing with the promise of what the new CrossFit season will bring. For almost all of us, this excitement is coupled with a determination to complete our own CrossFit goals in 2015. Whether it’s finally getting a muscle-up or being able to string 20 double-unders together, the first few days of January are when we all make the pledge that by the time 2016 rolls around, we will have accomplished the objective.
Obviously, this is easier said than done. Every year athletes get sidetracked, distracted and/or mismanage their goals and they inevitably fail to achieve them, resulting in the same process starting all over the again the following year. So, how can you stop that from happening to you? How can you make sure that in 2015, you achieve all of the goals that you set for yourself?
Have S.M.A.R.T. goals
Your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (S.M.A.R.T.). Start off by ensuring you goal is specific and measureable. For example: “I want to be able to do 20 unbroken double-unders” is much better than “get double-unders.” One of the beautiful things about CrossFit is that everything is measurable (time, reps, weight, etc.), so it should be an easy carry over to creating a S.M.A.R.T. goal.
Creating an attainable and realistic goal is where a lot of people trip up. You have to consider things such as the time you’ll be able to devote to working on your goal, other commitments (work, family, etc), existing injuries, your current level of fitness, etc. If you can only do pull-ups with the thickest resistance band, is it realistic to set yourself a goal of doing a bar muscle-up by the end of the year? One unassisted pull-up? Have an honest conversation with yourself as to what you think you can realistically achieve, then set your goals.
Finally, the goal should be grounded within a time frame—otherwise where’s the sense of urgency to complete it? Yes, some of the more complex movements of CrossFit may require longer deadlines—but you should still have a deadline. “Someday” is a word that should be stricken from your vocabulary. Back to the double-unders goal: “I want to do 20 unbroken double-unders by the end of March” is much S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal than “Get double-unders.” The first is specific (20 double-unders), measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (by the end of March).
Build (good) habits
Habits can be the basis of your success or failure—depending on the habit. Habits are actions that we perform regularly without thinking too much about them. You always brush your teeth before going to bed. You don’t prepare yourself or schedule a time to approach the sink and clean your teeth, you just do it before you go to bed. It’s essentially an automatic behavior. Building good habits make it possible for you to regularly perform beneficial actions without using much mental effort. This means you’re less likely to procrastinate or delay doing the activity/action. A few examples can include performing 10 minutes of mobility after every class, meal prepping for the week to come every Sunday at 1 p.m., or even forcing your knees out during a squat. Such actions, if performed regularly, can be developed into automatic habits. The flip side is that things like procrastination or pulling too early on a clean are also habits—albeit negative ones. But rather than spending too much mental and physical effort on breaking bad habits, concentrate your energy on building good ones. It may take some time to form a new habit (studies have shown it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days—depending on the individual and the circumstances), but if you are able to increase the ratio of positive habits to negative ones, you’ll be moving in the right direction and your results will reflect that.
Today’s world is full of distractions. The problem with all this ‘noise’ is that it makes it hard to focus on the things that are really important to us. When our concentration is spread too thinly across multiple areas, we become less efficient with our time, less productive and we lose track of the few things that actually have the most important impact in our lives. The solution is to simplify your life, but that’s obviously easier said than done. However, as I mentioned above, you could start to build a habit of reducing your time on Facebook and clearing the clutter from your life one step at a time. It just requires persistent effort. It’s the same thing when it comes to completing your goal(s) for this year. Hopefully you’ve only made one or two goals so that you’re not distracted by multiple challenges. When you consider the objectives that you’ve set for yourself, you should also think about the factors that could hamper your chances of success, and whether or not said factors can be removed from the equation. This could include dietary choices, particularly people in your social sphere or social media itself.
Keep that one sharp goal in your mind and put everything else into a little box that you can tap into on the odd occasion. To quote the great Bruce Lee, “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
Prepare yourself for setbacks
In order to reach your goals, you have to be prepared for the setbacks that will come—and yes, they will come! Your motivation to succeed will likely never be higher than it is now in early January, since it’s the start of a new year and the idea of working (and achieving) those goals is fresh in your mind. But make no mistake, at some point—or rather at multiple points—you will suffer a drop in motivation, a lack of interest in eating clean, an unwillingness to train or work on your mobility. You may even become fed up with the idea of CrossFit itself.
These are crucial moments that can make or break your journey to achieving your goal, so it’s absolutely imperative that you prepare yourself for when they do arrive.. If you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail. So, what can you do when the fire starts to die out? Refer to this list. Utilize your support system. Analyze how far you’ve come in reaching your goal and celebrate small successes. Get rid of any noise in your life, both in and out of the gym. Remember why you chose such a goal and get fired up about it. Envision achieving the goal and what that feels like. Use all of these elements to regain your desire and get back on the right path.
Have a support system
Surrounding yourself with the right people can make all the difference—not just in CrossFit, but also in life. Just as you want to avoid individuals who may hamper your progress, you’ll need to have people who can encourage, motivate, support and guide you throughout the process of working towards your goal. Good friends and family may help in this regard, but consider utilizing your coach and your best pals at the box as your go-to support system. They’re better suited to understanding what you’re going through—your trials and tribulations, etc.—but they can also provide specific help that non-CrossFitters may not be able to. Unless your Dad was a former gymnast, you’re probably going to need support from your coach on how to go about getting up on those rings. Above all else, they should have your back when the going gets tough, and help guide you through the rough patches that will inevitably appear.
Photo by Janeen Chang Photography