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.
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.