Why CrossFitters Will Always Struggle With Consistency...Unless We Change This 1 Thing
There I was, crawling through the sleet and hail.
Still crawling through the sleet and hail, more accurately.
Everyone else had finished already and there I was, stuck at the back of the pack with numb hands, grazed knees and a sense of failure firmly embedded in my psyche.
I was on the last few hours of a multi-day course to become a physical training instructor (PTI) in the Royal Marines, an elite arm of the British Armed Forces.
Needless to say, I failed in this objective. Whilst failing sucked at the time - and trust me did it suck - I learned some lessons about willpower, motivation and consistency which would stick with me through my performance in CrossFit competitions, coaching athletes, and eventually becoming mindset coach to some of the biggest names in CrossFit.
There was one fatal mistake which I had made in the run-up to this course: relying on willpower.
I had relied on willpower in my training sessions…but there rarely seemed to be enough of it so I didn’t train as well as I could have done.
I had relied on motivation to keep me doing the boring, but simple work which was necessary and instead got distracted by the shiny objects of snatching, muscle ups and benchmark WODs.
I tried to force myself to stick to my nutrition plan, but I found that for every day I forced myself to do what I wanted there were two days where I “just needed a break.”
In short, I failed because of my inconsistency. And I was inconsistent because I thought I needed more willpower, whereas in fact I needed a complete overhaul of the way I approached challenge.
The thing is, willpower had served me really well until the months leading up to that course. I had transformed myself from being skinny and unable to do a single pull up, to earning the green beret of the Royal Marines Commandos, all the while being reliant on willpower.
Because that’s the story we’re told, right?
Can’t do something? Get more willpower!
Don’t want to do something? Just motivate yourself!
In short, stop being a pussy and get on with it.
And whilst there certainly is a time and a place for that attitude, it can’t be your chief source of drive because it’s so limited. It will run out.
Over the years that followed, I discovered this important truth:
If motivation and willpower are pushing yourself to do something, then changing your mindset is being pulled towards your goals.
What you want, when you wake up in the morning, is not to think “I’ve got to go and train now… I’ve got to eat well… I’m going to force myself to make the right decisions”.
You and I both know that approach can’t last forever, because let’s look at the facts: how many times have you felt the waves of motivation coming and going?
One minute you feel great, driven towards success…
…the next, you’re wondering how you even got where you are now and whether you’re really cut out for it.
In other words, motivation comes and goes. It’s fickle like that.
But I’m sure you’ve felt mindset at play too. When you wake and you feel pulled towards your destination.
Some signs your mindset is on point are:
-You don’t experience the waves of motivation, instead things are much more steady in your drive.
-You don’t find yourself self-sabotaging in nutrition.
-Even when stuff goes wrong (life gets in the way of the ideal outcome), you don’t fret it but find a solution.
-You make consistent progress to goal you’re seeking and achieve what you want.
-You feel at ease with yourself.
We usually think of mindset as something weird and mystical, but the truth is, it’s quite trainable. It’s not overly complex, but it’s a skill; something to work on and build on.
And that’s what we’re doing in our 21-Day Consistent Athlete Challenge at the moment; teaching the fundamentals of mindset training so CrossFitters have a toolkit to use to finally become the athlete they dream of becoming.