Too Much Thinking - Not Enough Doing:
Get to Work!
I had a recent conversation with a potential spec ops candidate who kept asking questions concerning his future journey and all my answers came back to being patient, being consistent, and working hard. Do the hard work! Not just enough to get by but more than anyone in the room.
If you are asking similar questions of yourself, understand that it does not have to be complicated. In fact, it is quite simple if you are willing to put in the work.
Here are some of the questions that can be answered by patience, consistency, and working hard:
Q1) What is the best way to get started?
Q2) How can I make it through the first time / every time and not think about quitting?
Q3) Do you think I really need to focus on my PST first?
Q4) How much time will it take for me to get ready?
Q5) OK - Assessment sheet for the physical, but how will I know I am mentally ready?
(answers below in separate paragraphs)
I do not like to answer a question with a question, but in this case, these are my questions to you:
Q1 - Answer - How much work are you willing to do NOW? But to be honest, you should have a lifetime of preparation at this point - so you have already started. You just do not know that your school, sports, competitions, and other life challenges have been preparing you for future goals. Your history is your foundation both physically and mentally and you will start this journey with a certain set of skills (strengths / weaknesses). It is extremely important that you assess yourself - figure out where you are compared to your contemporaries and start focusing on your weaknesses. Learn what your strengths and weaknesses are and maintain the strengths / work on your weaknesses and GET TO WORK yesterday!
Q2 - Answer - Did you fail previously? Quit previously? Did you learn something from those failures? If so - GOOD. You are on the right track. If you know the pain of quitting something, you will know that you NEVER want to feel that again and that can drive you when times get tough (or prevent you from even trying in the first place). But, you will never think about quitting if you focus on winning. However, you are thinking way too far ahead right now. You can't even pass the PST yet. One step at a time. With some PST focused training, you will start to see results not only in your performance but also in your own confidence which will help with many of these questions / answers for you.
Q3 - Answer - YES!! This is phase 1 of tactical fitness. How do you expect to get accepted into the training? They do not just take you because you say you want to go. There are standards. You have to ace this test in order to get TO THE TRAINING (phase 1 of tactical fitness). You will never get the chance to "never think about quitting" if you cannot crush the PST. You need to score well above the minimum standards so on a bad day you can still pass this test. After boot camp, you will be tested again at your prep course and if you do not pass after the de-conditioning that occurs at boot camp, you will out of the program.
Your workouts should be calisthenics and cardio based at first and on a high level which may take time to build up to. Get on a program that focuses on the entrance exam for a cycle - that is the number 1 goal if you want the opportunity to go to the next level. The good news is you can work on both phase 1 and phase 2 of tactical fitness together for the most part depending upon your strengths / weaknesses.
Q4 - Answer - How much time do you have? You need to be patient but get to work. It depends on where you start and how hard you work. I have seen people be ready in less than six months and I have seen people take over two years to be fully prepared to endure challenging special ops selection programs. Given your current status of just now learning what the PST is, I would say at least a year of preparation training - most likely more. You should not set a timeline however, set a performance line before you join the Navy. Go back to the assessment sheet and see where you are on ALL the elements of fitness to see if you are developed enough to not only get TO the training, but get THROUGH the training.
Q5 - Answer - How do you know if you are tough enough for spec ops selection? You won't know until you are there to be honest as you will doubt yourself as to if you trained hard enough, turned weaknesses into strengths, and wonder if you have what it takes to get through. This is the test - this is why you signed up. The good news is as you progress with your physical abilities and get into the best shape you have ever been and better than those around you, you will also grow in your self-confidence and start doubting yourself less. Eventually, you will just pray you do not get injured - so lick your wounds everyday and work on your mobility and flexibility as well as your strength and endurance.
Now I have some questions for you...
OK - Enough Questions as all my answers are saying nearly the same thing - get to work now, consistently, but be patient as the road is long to thoroughly prepare for a spec ops journey. You have a lot of preparation work ahead of you. Worry about NOW and not what is next. Now I have some questions for you:
Why do you want to do this? You need to have answer when you ask yourself this as your will is being tested to its maximum. These jobs are not for everyone because they are hard - how hard are you willing to work?
How much are you going to do each day? There is no 30 minute gym routine that will prepare you for a day of spec ops training. Put in the time, running, swimming, rucking, lifting, and PTing and even more time if you suck at any one of those events.
When you train, do you show up and get things done? Do you work your weaknesses and techniques not until you got them right BUT until you can't get them wrong? What is YOUR definition of hard work? What is your definition of being ready? Do you have that standard to shoot for?
If you need one - once again - see assessment tool.
Do you add to the program you are on to ensure no weaknesses are left unaddressed? Your weaknesses will be exposed daily and turned into personal gut checks each time if you neglect to train them well. Be ready to suck it up NOW or during training.
How much research have you done? There is a lot to do. I mean if I just explained the BUD/S PST to you, you are WAY behind to curve as to how much you even know about a career you think you want to do. DO YOUR RESEARCH continuously - it never stops.
Having Doubts or Lacking Confidence?
It is human and absolutely normal to question a path to take. Having doubts about your abilities to be successful is also natural. However, there is a difference between having doubts and lacking the confidence to even venture forward into the challenge ahead of you. Usually having doubts is more about the process in which you have prepared (or are currently preparing) yourself whereas lacking self confidence goes much deeper into your history of setting goals and accomplishing things that are hard. If you have not accomplished much in your young life, you may not only lack the self-confidence to even start this journey in the first place, but not have the resiliency to push through when obstacles and even failures arise throughout your process of preparation or the selection goal itself.
Simply put it works like this...
Right now you are motivated to do something special - Great. Enjoy it but use it to drive your training and build good habits NOW. Because, that motivation has to evolve into discipline quickly as there will be days during this journey you will not be motivated and you have to rely on your consistent work habits and the discipline you gained from putting in the work. That discipline strengthens your why. It allows you to engage mental toughness and push through gut checks when needed without ever doubting yourself or thinking about quitting. IF you have travelled this motivation to mental toughness evolutionary journey you will know if you are ready.
Don’t overcomplicate what needs to be done when preparing for a challenging career choice. Not everything needs to have an existential answer to your life’s questions. To be helpful to you, your plan needs to show results, be challenging, and consistent.
Don’t overthink this journey to reach your training goal. Do hard work now – consistently and patiently. Assess yourself regularly to see if you are turning weaknesses into strengths and maintaining strengths as needed for your specific tasks in your future. Hard work, consistency, and patience wins every time.
Now, What is Holding YOU Back?
If you want help, that’s what I do…. Check out these resources that have helped spec ops candidates succeed where others have failed for the last 20+ years!
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Who is Stew Smith CSCS? Coach, Trainer, Writer, Podcaster: I'm the former Navy SEAL that tactical candidates go to for books, ebooks and online coaching to prepare themselves to get to and through intense tactical assessment and selection programs and qualify for service in their chosen tactical profession. See More at StewSmithFitness.com
Where to Find More Information About Optimal Performance Training Programs
When you start training again, consider the seasonal tactical fitness model. I call it A WAY to train and obviously not the only way to train. But it offers the opportunity to never neglect your weaknesses, helps with flexibility and mobility, but will also put you at a level of physical abilities where you are happy with your overall ability to do just about anything. We have a system where the seasons dictate our training. When it is nicer outside, we tend to run and do more calisthenics. When it is colder and not so nice, we lift more, run less, and still maintain our outdoor activities with shorter runs and rucks. Check it out: Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization System.
These Seasonal Tactical Fitness BLOCK Periodization programs will walk you through 4 x 4 weeks cycles with 16 weeks of each season in two programs. (32 total weeks)
Increase Strength & Crush the PST / PAST
3 Weeks Strength - 1 Week PT / Cardio Focus
These programs will walk you through 4 cycles with 12 weeks of each season in two programs.
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