We all have that one friend who constantly shuffles from song to song without hearing a single one in its entirety, right? Well, as annoying as that can be, that’s me. Both literally and figuratively. In my mind I can shuffle from one idea to the next without working through the first thought. I imagine I am not the only one like this, so I thought I would talk about how I have learned to better filter my ideas and goals without skipping track to track.
Goals, ideas and plans for the future come extremely easy to some of us, but is that something that is actually working against you? The first group that comes to mind is someone who is brand new to fitness. The excitement is overwhelming and they are ready to run through a brick wall to catch up on everything they’ve been missing. They want to workout 3 times per day, overhaul their nutrition and buy all the new gear they can. Sounds kind of crazy, right? But, we have all been there to some extent or we are still in that phase despite having been participating in CrossFit for a while. The problem is not that our willingness to work hard isn’t there, but we are trying to do too much. Taking on too much at once often leads to more stress and a feeling of resentment down the line. So, how can we begin to filter ideas, goals and plans for the future?
We have to start by writing out what it is we want. What do we hope to accomplish? This can be a series of goals, but we need to list them all out so that we have the full picture. From this list, we need to prioritize our goals. How do we decide which one comes first or how do we know what we should be focusing on more than others? I used to be an avid Dave Ramsey listener. Now, he speaks about personal finance and helping people get out of debt, but as usual, life lessons are just as applicable to fitness. He coins the snowball theory which places emphasis on the smaller debts first. Paying off the easier ones first and eventually working our way towards the bigger debts. Although understanding personal finance is great, this method can also be applied to our paying off our goals in the gym as well. From your list of goals, prioritize them based on difficulty. Start with the easier goals and work your way down the list to the more difficult ones. By employing this strategy, we are not neglecting the other goals, we are just filtering out which ones should be focused on at a time.
If your goal is to get a ring muscle up, but you cannot perform a ring dip, should our focus solely be on learning how to transition on the rings? Or should we devote more of our time to getting a ring dip first and then working our way onto transitions? If we focus more on getting stronger for the ring dip, won’t it also be beneficial to learning a ring muscle up down the line? As we attain ring dips, we begin to devote more time to the muscle up (snowball effect). Applying this tactic will also help to ensure the sustainability of those accomplishments. Had we focused on everything all at once, any progress we would have made would have been very small and likely short-lived.
“But, Coach, my goals are to snatch 250#, run a marathon and walk on my hands! Where do I start?” Sometimes, our goals won’t line up as nicely as the ring dip to ring muscle up example and we are left with all these grand ideas on what we want to accomplish over the next year. I am still that person who shuffles song to song, but something I have been practicing over the last couple of years is restraint. Not always in the sense that I tell myself no, but that I tell myself not right now. This notion requires more internal dialogue and reflection as we have to sift through our thoughts and determine which one is the most important at the time. For me, I have been wanting to focus on strength. Every year during the Open my worst finish always involves a heavy barbell. But, I love a good metcon that puts me flat on my back. The last few months I have taken a step back from doing as many metcons and have replaced that with the barbell. I still want to be the best CrossFitter that I can be, but I know that I have to make my strength a priority in order to do that. Eventually, I will implement more metcons back into my training, but I have to see this goal of getting stronger through first. We can do the same thing with our goals, deciding which one is more important to tackle first. What is it that you really want? Do you want to snatch 250# more or run a marathon? No one is saying that you can’t have both, but reflecting on which one is more important to happen first will help you divert more energy into making it a reality.
Life and fitness will never have a shortage of ideas or goals we want to achieve, but trying to master everything all at the same time will leave you scattered and quite possibly worse off than before. Think of your goals as debts, pay off the smaller ones first so that later you can re-allocate those funds to help pay off the bigger ones. Decide what it is that you really want. It doesn’t matter if you want to walk on your hands or lose weight. Put the majority of your focus on one thing at a time in order to truly master it before shuffling to the next song. There is no right or wrong, at the end of the day it is whatever YOU want to accomplish, just make sure you aren’t trying to do too much and lose sight of everything altogether.