Setting Expectations & the Open

by Thomas Richards

Every year the first Open workout comes out and by the end of the week, we see people down in the dumps about their performance. Not being able to complete a tough skill, seeing others get better scores than them, the list goes on!

In 2016, the second open workout was a ladder of toes-to-bar, double unders, and squat cleans at ascending weights. My 1RM at the time was right around the 5th and final weight, so I was really excited for this workout. The first time I tried it, I didn’t make it through the second barbell. The second time I tried it, I didn’t make it through the second barbell. And the third time I tried it, I quit after one attempt at the second barbell. 

I attempted the workout three times in four days (not smart); I was angry, disappointed, and my Open was soured because of that performance. I didn’t submit my scores that year (giant baby). 

I later realized I had set unrealistic expectations of what I was capable of, which leads me to the Happiness Equation:

Happiness = Reality – Expectations

In simple terms, if your expectations are 100, and your reality is 50, you’re going to be unhappy with the result. This applies to most things in life, but let’s focus on our CrossFit performance for now.

This is the mindset I use when approaching the Open workouts now. I tell myself beforehand that I’m going to give it everything I have and wherever I end up, I’ll be most proud of my effort. I also look at the workout and set realistic goals. I ask myself questions like, “Where will you struggle? How will you get through that portion? What does a win look like today? Have you been training this movement/cardio/skill? Did I sleep last night? Should I wait another day until I’m feeling better?”

Focus your expectations on your effort level (did I give my all?), rather than your results and let The Open fuel you to be better in the future!