Progress is inevitable once you raise your standards.
But what does it mean to raise your standards? Is it about reaching your goals?
Making a lasting change is not really related to reaching your goals, because even if you don’t manage to get what you want, you can still make a positive, lasting change.
Remember when you had just started working out? This is when you had set your fitness goals and started working towards personal achievements and physical changes. Eventually, you reached them, but it was obvious that in order to continue progressing, you had to set the bar higher. You now had new standards.
There is a huge difference between “I should get rid of these extra pounds” and “I must get rid of these extra pounds”. Let me tell you this right away – the SHOULDS usually don’t happen. The list can go on and on, but eventually, people tell themselves that they are satisfied with being mediocre.
The moment when a ‘should’ becomes a ‘must’ is the moment when standards get raised. It doesn’t really require any willpower, it’s not a process, but rather a click in your mind when you say to yourself – “no more”. And then you make a plan to get enough sleep, regulate your diet, equip yourself with proper gym clothes, create a better training routine or improve your existing one, and put all the efforts required for you to stick to it, well, into it.
Identify Your Standards
How do you find your fitness standards? What it takes is to stop for a moment and observe that part of your life. Your current standards on your personal appearance are reflected in the way you look at this very moment. However, personal judgment shouldn’t be involved, because once you start self-criticizing, your defense mechanisms are activated, and you start perceiving yourself through a kind of protective film. It is what it is, there is no right or wrong at the moment. If you’re a skinny guy who wants to add some muscle mass, your standards are different than those of a sumo wrestler, for whom a drop in weight is an unacceptable scenario.
Rework your Limits
In other words – raise your unacceptable standards. Once you start defining them, there will be a few that seem abysmal. You look at yourself in the mirror and say “I should lose weight”, but you don’t, because you’ve identified yourself as someone who has never been able to lose weight. Here, we point out the importance of identity in the process.
Once you decide with complete conviction that you are the best athlete around, your standards will rise. Identify yourself as one marvelous fitness enthusiast instead of the opposite. You will take action to stay true to who you are because of that identity shift. However, know that this shift is internal and the basis for your further physical changes, as well as that it can’t be faked.
Start finding examples that will support the shift in your identity. You’ve resisted a strong hunger craving, managed to perform more sets, lost 3 pounds – all because you’re a fitness enthusiast. Slowly begin to act like one, embrace the changes, and you’ll notice how other people start perceiving you as well. First, you’ll start to feel like a fitness enthusiast, and then you’ll actually be one.
Set High Goals for Yourself
However, they should be attainable as well. There are things that no human being in this world can do, such as gain 30 pounds of muscle mass in a month. It’s ridiculous to even say that. For example, you want to start exercising and become strong enough to be able to bench press 150lbs x 5. That is a potentially reachable goal, and it will determine your training and nutrition plan. Even if you don’t reach the goal, you’ll certainly be able to lift more than you ever would have otherwise, if your goals were to simply “be stronger”.
Your physical appearance is a reflection of the fitness standards you hold. This truth can be applied to other aspects of your life as well, from your personal relationships to finances. Everything is governed by the standards you hold them to.
Author: Mathews McGarry
Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and has spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for a better life. He is an all-around fitness adviser and his words are strong as an Australian Bull.