Are You Stuck In The Valley Of Disappointment?

If you haven’t read Atomic Habits by James Clear–go buy it now. It’s $15 that will change your life. He coined this term, and that’s his graph above! 

When we start out with a goal, we expect to make consistent, perfect progress towards our goal. We think about losing 40 pounds, and then we decide we want to do that in 10 weeks, and say “ok, 4 pounds per week, here I come!” The issue is–that’s not how progress works. Our habits, our lives, and our bodies all have inertia. It takes time for progress to start–time that we spend fretting because it’s not all going according to plan. Clear calls this “The Valley of Disappointment” and it’s such an apropos term for where many of us are right now during quarantine. The important thing to remember is–if you can persevere through that time, progress can then exceed your expectations, as habits snowball, behaviors change, and momentum builds. 

So what gets you through that dark valley? One of our core values here at FRCF: Growth Mindset. Growth Mindset boils down to the idea that all of our abilities and beliefs are fungible–we can change them by dint of perseverance and grit. This is the idea that you may be a bad runner today–but by choosing to work on the things that we are bad at, we don’t have to be a bad runner tomorrow. It’s the concept of: I’m not good at that yet. 

When we combine the idea of the Valley of Disappointment with growth mindset, we get a road map for making it out of the Valley–and indeed, lessening the negativity and devastating impact that it can have on our mindset and progress. Growth mindset really means believing that the valley is a necessary part of progress, that it’s the learning time in which we are building our abilities and beliefs in order to achieve our desired outcomes. It goes from the Valley of Disappointment to the Canyon of Awesome Training Montage. Anyone who’s ever watched a Rocky movie knows you don’t get to the top of the mountain (or Philly steps) without an awesome training montage. 

When we shift our mindset from “that’s not happening fast enough” to “I’m building myself into the type of person who does the things I want to do” we literally become a different, better version of ourselves. If you’re stuck in the Valley right now–keep going. It’s the crucible that’s going to forge you into a better person. 

Take Action Now: Set a timer for 15 minutes. Pick your biggest goal, and then write down all of the things that are going to pop up and delay your progress. Then, write down the habits you need to build to overcome those delays. Now you have a roadmap that’s more in line with reality for your goals. 


Extreme Ownership

Editor’s Note: This concept of “Extreme Ownership” comes from a book by former Navy Seal Jocko Willink. I highly recommend you read this if you are interested in this topic.

Extreme Ownership–it’s one of our 5 core values at Front Range CrossFit. The concept comes from the world of the Navy Seals, and it basically boils down to “it’s always your fault.” When I first heard about this concept, I actually thought that it was nonsense from the name. By default, there are things that are outside of our control in this world, so how can everything be our fault?

The answer is–it’s only the stuff that’s actually possible to control that’s our fault. But anything that falls under that category–there are never any excuses that are acceptable. This concept is useful across all aspects of life, but especially when it comes to these 3 fitness topics:

Nutrition–there are certainly circumstances that make nutrition harder than normal, but at the end of the day this is the simplest one to control. You get to choose every piece of food that goes in your mouth. Taking ownership of the food that fuels you is an INCREDIBLY empowering experience, and will add years to your life. It’s also one of the hardest areas, because our emotions are so wrapped up in the food that we eat. The best way to take ownership of your nutrition is to pay attention to the emotions that are wrapped up in your consumption and take ownership of the growth process that is going to allow you to build a new emotional relationship with food.

Exercise–There are so many ways this concept applies to exercise, but the 3 best ways to do it are:
1.Your form is completely under your control. Own having perfect form–and don’t let your ego allow you to keep moving if your movement breaks down.
2.Getting a workout in is completely under your control. There are days you can’t make it to the gym–but as the last 3 months have shown us, you can get really fit in your garage. Get some type of movement in, every day. Some days it’s a walk, some days it’s Murph
3.Your effort is also completely under your control. I love the concept of work as needing to move a pile of dirt from point a to point b. Some days life gives you a spoon, and some days it gives you a shovel, but you always get to pick how many times you try to pick that dirt up. When you show up, commit to giving full effort–first in how well you move, secondly in attacking the workout the right way, and third in how hard you work.

Sleep— Trust me, I know how frustrating it is to not be a good sleeper. But–you can control not being on screens 2 hours before bed. You can control going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. You can control sleeping in a dark room, with a temperature around 64 degrees. You can’t guarantee that you’ll sleep well every night, but you can definitely control the things that tend to impact sleep.

Action item to take away: The next time that you want to make a choice that doesn’t align with your fitness goals, try changing your mindset from : “I can’t help eating that candy.” to “I’m choosing to eat that candy, even though it won’t help me towards my goals.” Forcing yourself to acknowledge the fact that you’re making a choice, and taking ownership for that choice, often helps us make better choices!