I’m a better person because I do CrossFit. It’s sounds like a sales pitch, and considering that I work at a CrossFit box a few times a week, sometimes it is. But it’s also the capital-T truth (and not just because of the endorphins boost). The way I approach, crush (sometimes get crushed), and endure functional fitness has become a microcosm for the way that I approach life at large.
One CrossFit concept that’s taught me this (perhaps beyond any other)? AMRAP or “as many reps as possible.” In brief, AMRAPs workouts pit you against the clock. Your goal is singular: Get as many reps as you safely can before that buzzer dings. “AMRAP workouts are about achieving your goals (big or small) through dedication, hard work, limited distraction and focus,” says Jason Khalipa, founder of NCFit and author of As Many Reps As Possible: Succeeding In Competition, Business, and Life By Making The Most Of Every Single Minute.
In his book, Khalipa argues that the same can be said for life: Squeezing the most out of moments can take you far in your professional and personal life, too. “The AMRAP mentality is about taking each part of your life—work, family, fitness, and so on—and achieving the maximum benefit of each one in minimum time.” Often, setting big goals for life can feel daunting without structure; however, the AMRAP mentality helps to provide a framework that makes them feel more manageable. TLDR: Set a goal, then start the clock. Here’s your guide to make that happen IRL in different ways in your life.
How to bring an AMRAP mentality into your daily life
1. Knowing your why: In an AMRAP workout, knowing your why is pretty cut-and-dry: You’re in a race against the clock. In life, sometimes it takes a little extra leg work to figure out what’s driving you, but Khalipa says that getting crystal clear on your purpose can help you to make better gains. Ask yourself questions like: What do I take seriously? What do I need to do to respect myself? What are my guiding values? Once you have the answers to some of these questions, you can begin to press forward to create parameters that help you to see progress in your life.
2. Focus on what you can control: “It’s one thing to know what you want, it’s another to go after it intelligently,” says Khalipa. And that’s where focusing on the things that you can control comes in: Write a list of the stressors in your life. Now, draw two circles on a piece of paper. In one circle write all the things you can control, and then in the other write all the things you can not control. Scribble out the things that are out of your control, he says. “Once you identify what you cannot control, decide to stop focusing on it, and you’ll get rid of a lot of background noise,” says Khalipa. This gives you ample time to focus on what matters (your why) and plenty of time to get there.
3. Work hard: “There’s no gimmick to it,” says Khallipa. “You know when you’re working hard and when you’re slacking.” So if you think you could be doing more to further an aspect of your life, bring the AMRAP mentality to that area of your life. Set up a timeframe during which you can get things accomplished and then put in the work to see how quickly you can move the needle in that area of your life. For example, if you’re ready to make a career move, don’t just let that thought hang in the wind. Assign yourself check-in dates by which you’ll have made progress. When those come, be honest about how far you’ve come each time towards achieving your goal of getting that new job.
4. Shift gears: Kiss multi-tasking goodbye. “Rather than having one foot in one sphere, and one foot in another, you are deliberating making the decision to be all in,” says Khalipa. That means you’re not checking your email or Instagram feed while you lift, and you’re not answering a call while playing with your kid or sibling.” You’re all in on one thing.
Khalipa has a hypothesis (and IMHO, a good one) that if you have an hour to spend with your family and answer three emails, it’s better to spend the first 30 minutes cranking through your work and the second 30 minutes 100 percent in the moment with your loved ones. “It’ll likely feel impossible at first.” he says, “But it’s important for optimizing your time. And you’ll get better at it.”
5. Re-evaluate: This step doesn’t need to be on your daily, weekly, or even monthly to-do list, but in the process of reevaluating your life, you can often come at “knowing your why” from a place of success or failure, which can push forward the results that you’re seeing and help you to recalibrate your “why”. “Re-evaluation is essential for staying oriented towards your True North,” he says. From there, it’s the same formula of focusing on what you can control, giving yourself the time to power through, and working hard to see the real benefits that can come into your life from moving quick at your goals.
If you have zero idea what your WHY is, check out what the best career for you is, based on your Myers Briggs personality type. And here’s what to do when you don’t know what to do with your life.
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