Last week, while hiking through Yosemite with my husband and three girls, I ended up having a conversation with my oldest daughter, Bailey (7), about grit and how to develop it.

You see, as many of you can relate, our 7-year old whined and complained the entire time… “I’m tired… My feet hurt… When are we going to get to the falls… Why do we have to walk so far… I’m hot… I need a break… Can we stop… My legs hurt…”

The struggle is real.

After a day and a half of testing our patience, I finally pulled my daughter behind my husband and two other girls, and gave her “a talk.”

Whenever I have a “life lesson” discussion with Bailey, I seem to inevitably end up using CrossFit as an example. Bailey grew up in our gym that we owned in California, and it’s all she’s ever known, so she always gets it when I talk about CrossFit.

I started telling her how some clients in CrossFit whine and complain, and how we try to help them build grit and fortitude. She looked at me surprised and asked, “What?! They whine?! So, how do you make them stop whining, then?”

I started telling her how I try to help them compartmentalize the workout. I explained how “Fran” was done, and then how I tell a client to break it down and focus on the task at hand. So, the first 21 reps of Thrusters are compartmentalized into sets of 7. Focus only on the first set of 7. You only need to get to 7. Then rest. Now, you only have 7 to do again. Don’t think about or worry about the third set. It’s nonexistent right now. The only segment that matters is the set of 7 you are doing right now.

“Small, manageable, achievable targets,” I told Bailey, “that’s the key!”

So, then I showed her how to do it during our hike. “Pick a landmark that we can see up ahead,” I told her. She looked up and spotted a tree with a limb that looked like a hand with fingers. “Great! So, all we gotta do is get to that tree.” She shrugged and said that seemed pretty easy.

And, it was. When we reached the tree, I asked her if she needed a break, or if she felt like she could keep going. “I’m fine. Let’s keep going to that big boulder up ahead.”

When we got to the boulder, I asked again, and she said, “I see a tree knocked over up there. Let’s keep going.” And, I smiled, knowing the trick worked with her (at least, for this moment). We kept picking landmarks, and a few times she thought she wanted to stop, and I just distracted her with another landmark, “Hey look! There’s a squirrel up there, let’s walk to it and then we can stop.”

When we finally finished our hike, I asked her how bad it was for her, and she said, “It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought, Mom. I liked the landmarks!” I told her how that’s how I used to train for marathons and triathlons back in the day.


Whether it’s the workout, a weight loss plan, a new diet, a Deadlift goal, or whatever else, instead of overwhelming yourself with the big picture, compartmentalize the situation.

Small, manageable, achievable targets.


Think of them as small victories. We are much more motivated to keep going when we achieve something, even minute ones like reaching the tree up ahead, or finishing the first 7 reps of “Fran.” When we achieve, we want to achieve more, and we are much more likely then to keep going.

Mind tricks at its finest.

Try it next time, and let me know how it works for you! :-)

Kara PurvesComment