Life happens. As such, there is always some obstacle standing between you and your goals. Being aware of common obstacles puts you in a place of power. You can anticipate the obstacles and do something about them, or, in the best case scenario, set yourself up to prevent them altogether.
1. Forgetting to set a game plan
Setting goals and getting psyched about them is half the fun, but if you don’t create a game plan to achieve a goal, it may not happen. Let’s say you want to get a muscle-up. You’ve seen other athletes do it and you want to be able to do one too. That’s great—but what’s your first step? Are you going to jump up on the rings and simply try to pull yourself up? What about the coordination—can you time your swing, pull and hip extension properly?
If you answered no or aren’t sure about any of these questions, you might not have set a game plan. To reach any goal, you need to set a game plan to ensure success. In the case of a muscle-up you can ask your coach and other athletes for their help. Identifying what knowledge gaps you have and making an effort to fill those gaps will help you build a plan that will give you a far greater chance of success than simply winging it.
In addition, do you have a plan as to when you will put these drills and tips into practice? After every class? During open gym? Three times a week? Or just when you feel like it? Build a goal-training schedule and stick to it. Set up specific targets to reach by certain dates to act as stepping stones towards your overall goal. Not only will this help your athletic ability, but it’ll also help boost your confidence and motivation by reassuring you that you are indeed progressing and moving forward. Lastly, lean on your friends and fellow training partners for support and accountability so that you don’t fall off the wagon.
2. Not knowing your ‘why’
Looking a certain way or progressing in the sport are general reasons to set goals, but being specific about why you want to accomplish something is a far more powerful incentive.
Wanting to walk on your hands just for the sake of being able to do it may be enough for some people, but for most athletes there’s no true purpose there, and it may turn the goal into a mundane task. And tasks are more like chores, and no one has the motivation to do those. You need to attach some meaning behind your goal, otherwise you won’t feel inspired to spend the countless hours of necessary practice in order to achieve it. A great way to do this is by setting a specific date or event by which you hope to have earned the movement/weight, etc. Much like you should use mini objectives to build towards a larger goal, setting yourself a deadline provides a sense of urgency and impetus to the task at hand. You’re far more likely to put in the work if you know there’s a countdown as to when you need to achieve it. Use the start of the Open as the target date for stringing together multiple double-unders, an upcoming competition for your first ‘as prescribed’ workouts, or perhaps a personal event in your life (wedding, vacation, etc.) to have shed a few inches from your waistline and feel happy in your bathing suit/happy with your reflection in the mirror. When you make a goal personal, it becomes important to you—and that makes it far easier to sacrifice your time and efforts to work towards achieving it.
3. Not having enough confidence
Confidence—not arrogance—is paramount to success in life, not just in CrossFit. Good things happen to you because you make them happen, and believe that you can in the first place. Sure, certain goals might intimidate you because they may seem difficult or take too long to obtain. But if you look at them from a different perspective, you can tell it’s something worth pursuing. If you never take a chance or do something that scares you, you’ll forever remain in your comfort zone, stagnating your level of fitness. Having a good plan and the right incentive are great tools, but without possessing the inherit confidence that you can and will earn that goal, the smallest setback will easily floor you. At one point legendary CrossFitter Chris Spealler had six CrossFit Games appearances under his belt, but he wanted one more. In 2013, he fell just three points shy of making that a reality by finishing 4th at Regionals. Yet Spealler had confidence in himself and his abilities, and returned to Regionals once more in 2014, snagging 2nd place and earning his 7th trip to the CrossFit Games.
The point is, you can’t let the unplanned setbacks in your training or life (illness, injury, etc.) dent your confidence in such a fashion that a goal you once made for a good reason vanishes—along with your self-belief. Understand that you’re not alone in experiencing obstacles. Nothing worth having ever comes easy, and don’t assume that some athletes magically achieve their goals with the greatest of ease—I assure you that that’s not the case. Some goals will require months or even years (think of Spealler) to achieve, and you need to be prepared for that possibility. It’s important to use smaller objectives to help build your confidence en route to your primary objective (as mentioned above), but there are other tactics you can employ as well. These include visualization (picturing yourself accomplishing the goal), positive body language in training and celebrating smaller milestones.
4. Lack of resources
Some goals require a lot of training or prep time—making it more difficult for those athletes who are parents, work multiple jobs, or have other obligations that limit their time in the gym. Yet while a lack of resources can be a hindrance, it shouldn’t derail you completely from your goal. Look at your schedule to see if there are opportunities to get your training done in the morning or at lunch before you have to return to work. If you can’t make it to the box, is there a globo gym nearby where you can get a workout in? Are you able to meal prep for the week so you’re not forced to eat out every day? You’ll quickly come to realize that if the goal you set for yourself is truly important to you, you’ll find ways to work within resources and still progress towards achieving them.
5. Unwillingness to change
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. You have to be comfortable with change to evolve as an athlete (and as a person). For some, this might mean completely revamping their diet, expanding their training regimen to two-a-day workouts, switching to a new affiliate, and or altering their training plan when they’re not seeing results. Any one of these changes can come with complications, but if it’s what you need to become the athlete you want to be and reach your target, you have to at least consider making them. Just as you have to throw varied programming at your body in order for your muscles to constantly grow, adapt and become stronger, so too must you make changes in your schedule and diet if that’s what it takes.
6. Letting others negatively influence you
It’s important that you surround yourself with the right kind of people who will support your goals, and not question your ability to achieve them. If you’re constantly surrounded by negativity, then you’ll likely start to doubt yourself. So just as it’s important to have supportive people in your corner, it’s equally important (if not more so) to remove the negative people from your circle—or at least limit your interaction with them.
7. Fearing failure
“I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison
Think about all the great success stories in life and sport. Do you think they hung up their gloves as soon as they ‘failed’? I’d doubt they’d even consider their setbacks failures—more like learning opportunities that helped them become the athletes and professionals we admire. It’s far easier to quit rather than face your fear of not succeeding. But even if you don’t reach your goal by the date you set, does that mean you’re done? Of course not! There’s nothing stopping you from regrouping, readjusting your plan and setting yourself the same goal with a new date—just like Chris Spealler did.
Photo credit: Janeen Chang Photography