Strategize for Success

A couple weeks ago I wrote about setting a goal, within the context of what we learned about our collective skill-sets in completing the CrossFit Open workouts.  I also shared that the path to achieve that goal is through hard work, which we all know to be the case.  Today I want to get a bit more strategic in terms of how to go about getting that hard work done.
Many of you responded on our new private Facebook group with your new goal.  Yes!!  Awesome!!!  And I’ve noticed more people sticking around the gym to get a few more sets of toes-to-bar or double-unders in after class, which is outstanding.  But maybe not everyone who took the leap to shout out their goal online has started working on it just yet.  But why not?  It’s been two weeks!  The reason, I believe, has to do less with the motivation that created the goal and the workplan in the first place, and more to do with finding time to execute the plan.  We’re all busy, and we just gave ourselves extra homework.  Nobody’s going to grade it, you don’t have to turn it in, and so there’s no REAL sense of urgency.  But just because it isn’t necessarily urgent, it is important – you said it yourself when you put it out there for everyone to know.  So, what is the best way to actually get the work done?
You could just try to make “working on your goal” a priority.  But supporting your decision to work hard with a specific strategy to execute every day or every week will significantly increase your probability of success.  So what follows here are three strategies for creating the time to get in the work.  The first strategy is an exercise that we should all take on, and the two that follow are options to consider after that.
Strategy 1:  Eliminate time sinks.  Think about the things you do during your waking hours that take up the most time.  Work, eat, work out, personal hygiene, hang out with the kids.  That’s basically it, right?  How about those insidious distractions that actually take up A LOT more time than some of these productive activities.  Tracking how much time you spend looking at a phone or computer for non-work reasons would be a tremendous eye-opener for most of us, along with that TV time at night.  Once you know what that number of hours is during the day, commit to cutting that in half.  Now you’ve created space in your day to get that extra goal work in at the gym or at home.
Strategy 2:  Schedule the Work.  Ever since we implemented an online class schedule and a way of signing up for class at CFKI, we’ve encouraged our members to sign up in the beginning of the week for all the classes they plan to attend.  The benefit to CFKI coaches is that we know who is coming to class and can plan accordingly.  The more important benefit to the individual, though, is that you have made a commitment to yourself about your fitness plan for the week.
We’ll use the same model here for our extra goal work.  After scheduling your CrossFit classes for the week, schedule your goal work.  Again, maybe it’s after class for 15 minutes twice a week.  Maybe you feel you have to spend more time in one weekly block working on your goal.  That is best done during Open Gym time, but if you can’t make it in during the week, remember we have Saturday Open Gym at 8am!  Maybe you can stay after class one day a week to work on pull-up strength work and then one other day you focus on core strength at home (which would also assist with pull-ups).  Determine your goal work time blocks, write them down on your calendar or create a meeting request in Outlook for yourself — whatever you do to keep your daily schedule on track.  And then when that time comes, get the work done!  You’ll feel great about your ability to commit and then execute.
Strategy 3:  The Chain Method.  In the book Deep Work, the author Cal Newport tells a story about a young comedian who was fortunate enough to open for Jerry Seinfeld one night when Jerry was starting to become famous for the Seinfeld show but was still touring.  He took the opportunity to ask Jerry if he had any tips to be a better comic.  Jerry said half-jokingly that “the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes,” but then followed with some sage advice — to write every day.  He described a specific technique he uses to maintain discipline with writing every day — Seinfeld keeps a calendar on his wall and every day that he writes a joke he makes an X.  Eventually, you look at the calendar and you have a chain of X’s.  “Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day.  You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt.  Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
This strategy might work best if you get to the gym every day, or if your goal is something you can consistently work on at home.  Having said that, if your goal is to do a pull-up and you don’t have a pull-up bar at home, your first bit of goal work training might be to remedy that situation!
I hope this helps those of you that are in the “super-motivated but can’t find the time” category, which is a lot of us at certain points in our hectic lives.  Tackle Strategy 1 first – eliminate time sinks.  Then choose a work scheduling strategy that works best for your goal and your daily schedule.
If you’re still thinking through what your goal should be, or need some help planning out how to get there, schedule some time to meet with a coach!  I can be reached at, and I can pass along others’ contact information as well.

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