Take Back Control: Free Yourself From Vanity Metrics And be Proud of Your Work

Take Back Control, Free Yourself From Vanity Metrics And be Proud of Your Work - vanity metrics

From creatives to artist to writers to business people to everyday fitness people—we have this undeniably fatal flaw in ourselves to seek validation for our efforts and work.

From painting something from the heart to pouring our emotions over the keyboards, to giving it our all in the gym—the opinions of others has the potential to sink our self worth faster than a rock plummets to the depths of the ocean.

Some of us might quit working out because others aren’t noticing the hours and buckets of sweat we put in weekly. We might start to give a half-ass effort at our jobs because the appreciation isn’t being showed.

Our momentum for sharing our words, our music, our drawings, and our compassion might wither due to no one seemingly caring for our efforts.

If anyone knows how letting metrics, status updates, and compliments run someones life—I’m your expert.

Letting the outside world determine your self-worth

For a period of time, if I quit receiving validation for my fitness efforts, I felt my fitness game has slipped. Maybe I needed to work harder and get stronger. Maybe I needed to get leaner.

Not too long ago, I would let the number of likes, shares, re-tweets, comments, and open rates dictate my mood for that given day. If I published an article and heard crickets (aka not much social activity), I would let myself think that the article sucked—leading me to question my ability.

I forgot who said this, but when the topic of showing up each day and putting the work in without a reception, he described as playing a game of Marco Polo and you’re constantly chanting “Marco, Marco, Marco”…but no one shouts “Polo”.

At the beginning of a journey (especially fitness), it’s tempting to compare our current selves against our external environments and peers.

It’s easy to lose track of reality and get down on ourselves since it seems that everyone is seemingly perfect and has everything put together—besides ourselves.

Expectations & behind the scenes

Unrealistic expectations can ruin your fitness due to you chasing the ghost of perfection. The ghost of perfection has a perfectly symmetrical body and is one that everyone ogles over.

Good luck chasing this down.

Despite what we see in magazines and over the internet, these perfectly proportion, chiseled chest, shredded six-pack abs, and cellulite sans free bodies are 9 out of 10 times an illusion.

Thanks to photoshop and air brushing, we can easily create a pretty illusion and pretend that these perfect bodies exist in abundance.

Thanks to social media serving as our very own Sportscenter, we can share the highlights of our lives.

We don’t have to display the entire game for the world to see, we only have to show off the slam dunks and impressive touchdowns of our lives. You’ll never see the interceptions, the missed dunks, the turnovers, or rough moments of our games.

You’ll never see the struggles it takes to get to the gym. You won’t see the struggles of staring at a blank canvas or blank document. You’ll never see the struggles it takes to get out of bed some mornings to face the day ahead.

Why it’s imperative you gain control & 3 key reminders

Without taking back control of how you let external influences sway your emotions, you’ll never experience happiness and satisfaction in your work or physique. Without controlling this issue; “I need to do more”, “I need to write better”, “I need to play better”, “I need to workout more”, “I need to be leaner”—will be your life 24/7.

Striving to improve yourself by 1% daily is great, however, never giving yourself credit and appreciating your current accomplishments isn’t encouraged.

If you have this problem of letting the outside forces determine if you’re lean enough, strong enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or talented enough—try out some of the strategies below to counter this problem.

1. Remember why you are ultimately doing this in the first place- At the beginning, enthusiasm filled with tanks of adrenaline propelled you.

As the weeks and months pass by, adrenaline wans and this work becomes routine and mundane.

At beginning, the idea and fantasy of the transformation excited you.

Unfortunately, Dr. Reality busted through the door and showed you this journey wasn’t going to be as smooth as initially thought. Maybe you thought, in 8 weeks, you would have your new body and everyone would shower you with compliments.

Instead, you haven’t reached your target weight and everyone isn’t bombarding you with compliments.

When you’re feeling lost, think about what first made you interested in pursuing whatever you’re pursuing.

When I was in a low moment and was beginning to think what all this meant, I remembered my initial feelings and thoughts the night I decided to quit my higher educational pursuits.

I wanted to be able to positively influence others, share my failures and mistakes, help others level up their fitness, and unleash their inner superhero.

It’s not going to be easy, but if you come into the story with a strong ‘why’ that’s internally driven—then any superficial or external metric isn’t going to be strong enough to stop you.

You’re on a mission and nothing or no one can stop that unless you give them permission to do so.

2. Look at the small things- Maybe your goal was to lose 20 pounds, but instead have only lost 10. Perhaps you wanted to self-publish a book in 3 months, but instead it will take 6 months.

Maybe you wanted to pursue a passion project and turn it into your job, but instead, you’re stuck at a job you hate.

No matter the goal at hand, something is better than zero (as Gary V would say). I have a tendency to fixate on the end goal and not relish the moment nor celebrate past accomplishments.

Maintaining a fresh and positive perspective is worth the weight of gold. Most goals take time. We all have a tendency to overestimate what we can do on a given day or week, but underestimate what we can do over months and a year.

Maybe the book isn’t ready in 3 months, but at least you have a quality book coming out in 6 months. At least you have 10 pounds to show for your efforts. At least you’re working towards your passion project and not settling.

3. Don’t hand over your power so easily- The only way people can affect your emotions is if you grant them the power to do so. If someone calls you an idiot, critiques your fitness, tells you that your work is no good, or does anything else to you—so what.

That’s their opinion. Everyone is entitled to one, but just because they’re entitled to an opinion doesn’t mean you have to agree or listen to what they say.

Opinions are just what they sound like. They’re just a grouping of words that someone has put together. One important thing is that they’re not a fact.

It’s not a fact that you’re not good at fitness just because no one compliments your progress or you’re not the strongest nor leanest.

It’s not a fact that your work isn’t good because your social media account isn’t blowing up. It’s not a fact that you aren’t smart or good looking if your Instagram isn’t bombarded with compliments and weird comments from strangers.

Take Back Control, Free Yourself From Vanity Metrics And be Proud of Your Work -your value is more than a smartphone
You’re value is worth more than any number a smart phone shows you.

Remember at the end of the day, the metrics that we allow ourselves to obsess over are opinions—not facts.

Van Gogh wasn’t immensely popular nor the person we know him as throughout his life. His work became popular after his death. But, that didn’t deter him, he kept working and showing up each day because of his love for the craft.

How much do you love your craft? How bad do you want to conquer that seemingly ‘forbidden fitness goal’? How passionate are you about making a dent in the universe?

If it’s a resoundingly strong love that boils over—then the opinions of others or any vanity metrics won’t stop you.

9 Useful Lessons in Life & Fitness Learned From Oliver Queen

green arrow looking out-header

My name is Julian Hayes II. After five years of being a prisoner to my macros, ‘eating clean’, & missing out on valuable experiences & relationships, I’ve come to the fitness world with only one goal—to save other fitness enthusiasts from food guilt and other fitness problems. But to do so, I can’t be the guy I once was. I must be someone else. I must be something else.

As you can see, I’m quite the fanboy of the hit show ‘Arrow’. The beginning monologue shoots my nerd meter through the roof.

Arrow displays amazing action pieces, great dialogue, cool weaponry, and valuable fitness lessons.

Oliver Queen deals with stress in his every day life just as you and I do. He has family drama, villains, and a city to look over. We have work projects, cookies, and finding time to workout to look over. Juggling crime fighting with a personal life is just as tough as finding balance between our daily and fitness lives.

Let’s look at nine lessons in fitness learned from Oliver Queen becoming the Arrow.

Lesson #1- The old you must die in order to become someone greater

Just as a phoenix rises from the ashes and experiences a rebirth—you must rise to a stronger self. A symbolic ‘death’ of the old you is necessary for a emergence of the new self.

Before the island, Oliver’s life was nightclubs, creeping around with women and luxury. After the boat incident and daddy’s confessions—Oliver’s silver spoon lifestyle vanishes. To survive the island, Oliver evolves into a stronger version of himself.

Remove attachments to old beliefs and dogmas. Reflect, be objective, and realize a new pathway has opened.

Lesson #2- Your lowest moments are opportunities for your brightest moments

From the psychological torture of the island to Slade Wilson playing mindgames—Oliver has dealt with a plethora of low moments.

During those low moments, Oliver experienced major breakthroughs enabling him to save Starling City and grow as a person. Unfortunately, suffering and setbacks often serve as our best lessons. These low and dark moments can be blessings in disguise.

After these lessons, we gain clarity and drop the excess in our lives, which doesn’t serve our mission.

In the past, maybe you tried to lose 15lbs, but fell short. Take a moment and reflect on what went wrong with your past approach. Was it habits, mindset, friends, or even a fear of success or failure?

Lesson #3- You’re capable of more than you can ever imagine

Whether you’re trapped on an island or want to transform your body—all the strength you need for success is already inside of you.

It’s up to you to unleash it onto the world—by taking action (one step at a time). You’re good enough, you just need to believe it.

There will be temptations, challenges from all courses of life and you’ll feel like giving up at times. But, that’s expected.

If you can look at yourself in the mirror and feel you made progress (baby steps count), then you have nothing to worry about.

Lesson #4- Know what you’re fighting for

Oliver didn’t turn into The Arrow to just beat everyday people up and shoot arrows at strangers.

At first, it was fulfilling his father’s dying wish and eliminating names from his list of poisonous city figures. Later, his purpose became about honoring Tommys’ (his best friend) memory.

You might want a six pack, bulging biceps, a set of shoulders that would make Achilles jealous, sculpted legs, or head turning glutes. But, I challenge you to look deeper than superficial metrics.

Dig deeper into yourself and think about what leveling up your fitness will bring to your everyday life. Think about the confidence that will arrive allowing you to chase goals you’ve wanted. Think about how taking control of your health can alter your family tree of bad health issues.

No matter the goal, decide what your purpose is before entering the field.

Lesson #5- Decide on your weapon of choice and master it

Every hero has a signature weapon. For Oliver, it’s the bow & arrow. For you, it’s going to be your diet and working out.

oliver with arrow-weapon of choice, lesson 5
Choose your weapon wisely

Will your dietary weapon be intermittent fasting, carb backloading, or traditional breakfast with portioned meals just to name a few options?

Will your training weapon be full body splits. Upper/lower splits, or body part splits?

Choose your weapons based on personality, lifestyle, and personal interests. No matter the weapon, you must commit to honing your craft by practicing and paying attention to your daily habits.

Lesson #6- Your past doesn’t define you

This isn’t ‘Back to the Future’ nor is Kitty Pryde hanging around to take you back to the past. Your past is permanent and there’s no changing it. Focusing on the past makes you anxious, full of regret, and not focused on the present—which you can control.

Just as Oliver letting go of past events to become The Arrow was necessary, you must let go of any negative failures in the past to succeed.

Maybe you’ve dealt with food guilt, body image issues, or confidence issues. Maybe that last 12 week program you’ve tried didn’t turn out as anticipated. Maybe issues of weight have troubled you throughout your entire adulthood.

Just because you fell short or were a couch potato doesn’t mean you can’t become something else in the near future.

Lesson #7- Be intentional with your goals

From street crime to corporate crime to Mirakuru induced maniacs (Slade Wilson)—Starling City is nuts. If Oliver tried to take on all these issues, he wouldn’t solve anything. It’s tough enough to succeed in one mission, yet along trying to solve all the world’s problems.

It’s impossible to conquer everything at once. Possessing this mindset leaves you empty handed and majoring in mediocrity.

Ambition is awesome, but choose your battles wisely. Don’t stretch yourself too thin. Go after the goals with the highest yield in return. Oliver taking down the big shots essentially destroys the low-level crime (hence high yielding returns).

Focus on food choices, not meal timing nor the optimal post-workout window feeding time (hence a high yielding return)

Develop laser like focus and conquer one mission (i.e. fitness goal) at a time.

Lesson #8- You will encounter setbacks

From Malcolm Merlyn to Slade Wilson to Ra’s Al Ghul , Oliver has received his fair share of beatdowns. He hasn’t always made the correct decision nor executed plans with precision.

He’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect.

No one is immune to setbacks. Setbacks will happen along your fitness journey. You might fall into a temporary funk and lose your mojo.

So what!

Life happens. Keep it moving.

If you’re challenging yourself to grow as an individual, you’re going to hit some bumpy roads. This doesn’t mean you’re a failure or aren’t capable.

Goals need to be challenging. Anything worthwhile in life takes effort and time. Fitness transformations are tough and require consistency (sorry to burst the bubbles of the 30-day get shred crowds).

The better you embrace setbacks, the more at peace you’ll be when they happen, thus enabling you to bounce back quicker.

Lesson #9- You can’t succeed alone

Of all the lessons, this is the most important. There comes a stopping point in every ones journey where growth plateaus. Without seeking reinforcements, you can’t move forward.

Without friends providing accountability and support, I would’ve waved the white flag by now .

Oliver couldn’t be the hero he is without Diggle and Felicity providing a shoulder to lean on.

oliver & diggle-lesson 9, everyone needs someone
Everyone needs someone

Your shoulders will only carry so much weight until they tip you over. When you start to drift into ‘hero mode’ and think you don’t need anyone, keep Bill Withers in mind. ( ‘We all need somebody to lean on’)

When it comes to fitness…
● Whom do you lean on for support?
● Who keeps you accountable?

Question for you to think about: Which of these lessons is lacking the most in your life at the moment? What are you going to do to change the situation?

The Wishing Game: A Simple Game With no ‘Happily Ever After’

The Wishing Game A Simple Game With no 'Happily Ever After'- the wishing game“I wish I had a better job.”

“I wish I was leaner.”

“I wish I was a ladies man.”

“I wish I had more money.”

“I wish I could live somewhere else”.

“I wish I was a better writer.”

“I wish I was more creative.”

“I wish my business was as profitable as ‘such & such’.”

“I wish I was as popular as ‘such & such’.”

“I wish I had more followers.”

At some point in time throughout my life, those exact words have blurted out of my mouth. Each time I’ve uttered such things, nothing manifested besides moments of self-defeatism, sadness, resentment towards others, and furthering myself from where I wanted to be in life.

At some point in time, you most likely have blurted out the phrase ‘I wish’. You most likely noticed that wishing didn’t propel you any closer to your goals than you initially were.

While on a date to go see ‘Into the Woods’ (an excellent musical I must admit), I was reminded that wishes don’t always equate to being ‘happily ever after’.

Each character in the movie is wishing for a different outcome. Once it arrives, each character expects everything to magically change for the better.

I suffered from this symptom for the majority of my life. However, each character and myself realizes that ‘happily ever after’ isn’t so happy after all. In fact, each character faces the consequences for their wishes and actions.

Cinderella realizes the royal life isn’t all its cracked up to be along with her Prince Charming not being so charming after all. The baker is worried that he’ll be a crappy father to his newborn, just as his father was. He also has to face the repercussions of handing over his ‘magic beans’ to Jack. Rapunzel is terrified of the outside world. The witch, with her reacquired youth realizes that she has lost most of her powers.

I thought life was going to magically change once I added 20 pounds of muscle—nothing happened besides needing to go shopping (self-doubt was still with me).

I thought life would change once I got to 10% bodyfat—it didn’t, I just developed some false bravado.

I thought life would change once I started to get published, it didn’t, I just wanted more & more (self-doubt was with me).

What does all of this mean?

These were all external scenarios. These goals allowed me to build up extra layers, but inside is where we grow as a person. Inside is where the healing takes place. Inside is where the mindset reshapes.

Those goals of losing fat, building muscle, writing a book, and starting a business can be life changing. But, often times, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to our desires. While I wanted to lose fat, what I really wanted was to feel more confident within my own skin and feel like I was someone.

Perhaps you want to lose fat or reach some arbitrary number. That number most likely isn’t what will change your life. What will change your life is the feeling of accomplishing that goal and the confidence in yourself.

A number is just a number.

numbers-the wishing game
Photo Credit: Curtis Gregory Perry via Compfight cc

A number won’t change us, but the process of reaching that number can change us if we are aligned with the correct intent.

When it comes to stating what we want, it’s imperative we make these declarations from a place of intent that comes from within and isn’t influenced by external forces.

Sometimes our wishes are not exactly ours, but it’s our ego telling us what we should want. It’s letting outside forces such as our peers, media, and conventional life expectations dictate to us. Letting our ego & external influences be the basis of our decision making isn’t ideal nor will it allow us to ever experience true happiness and be our unapologetic authentic selves.

Getting your wishes granted doesn’t lead to all your problems in life being smoothed over. Those rough patches are still present and the demons are still lurking.

Just because I was physically fit doesn’t mean that my self-confidence followed suit. Just because I was published doesn’t mean my self-doubt was erased. Your promotion, number of internet friends, nor clothes won’t heal your confidence or whatever else is brewing inside.

 The only way to heal a wound is to directly address it. There is no avoiding it or patching it up.

The wishing game can be fun and motivating, but be mindful of where those hopes and dreams are stemming from.

Are those wishes what you really want? Are you making those wishes in hopes of concealing a deeper wound? Are these wishes ego driven and stem from a place to prove a point to others or keep up with others? Are these wishes your families, friends, significant others, or influenced by the media?

Take some time to think and ask yourself, “Is this what I really want and why do I want this?”

Are your recent wishes what you truly want or have you been wishing what you think you’re supposed to be wanting? If the latter, what are you going to do about it?