Fitmark Ambassador Melissa Austin explains what happens when we expect unrealistic goals
“I quit.” I shut off the treadmill off with a feeling of self-disgust. Two minutes. I ran for a whole two minutes. What the heck was wrong with me? How did I ever expect to be even remotely competitive at my upcoming 5K if I couldn’t run for more than two minutes? I was coming off of an ACL injury that had left me sidelined for nearly 3 months. But, I still hated myself in that moment. I hated that I couldn’t live up to the standards I had set for myself. I was preparing to run my first 5K post injury and I wanted a sub 28 minute time. No excuses. And I wasn’t willing to accept anything less.
When it comes to losing weight, or any fitness related goal, we all have this idea in our head about how it should be. The vision of perfection. And it almost always never goes the way we have it planned. The vision of perfection we have is often more than we can accomplish at that moment. And instead of being proud of what we can do, we walk away, feeling defeated. Worthless. Sometimes, we give up completely; deciding that since we can’t have perfection, it’s not worth doing at all.
We’ve all heard the age old adage “you aren’t in competition with anyone but yourself.” And it’s true. Every person’s journey is going to be different. Everyone is going to be in a different place. What you can do, someone may be able to do better and vice versa. But it’s not about what other people can do. It’s about being better than the person you were yesterday. That’s it. It’s about making progress everyday. The only person that you should ever want to be better than is the you that you were yesterday. By focusing on progress, not perfection, you are setting yourself up for success. Focusing on perfection will only leave you feeling unhappy and unfulfilled.
Instead of saying that you want a sub 28 minute 5K, simply say you want to do better than your last 5K. For me, my last 5K was a 35 minute 5K. Instead of wanting a 28 minute finish, I decided I was just going to aim to be better than my last race. And you know what? I was. I didn’t hit that 28 minute mark. But, I came pretty close. I ran two more races after that first 5K and each time, my goal was to simply be better than I was during the last 5K. And each time, I got better. Once I learned to accept that it was about progress, the pressure I had placed on myself to succeed had disappeared. I no longer felt crippled with fear.
If what you are doing today, is progress over what you did yesterday, then you are moving in the right direction. Strive for progress. Do one thing everyday that moves you in the direction you want to go and go.
Progress, friends. Not perfection.
Fitmark Ambassador 2013