The Struggle of Training for External Validation

The Struggle of Training for External Validation

Leftiautus Midlefingerus. A rare plant.

The firm desperately wanted Jeff* to stay. They were offering more money. A lot more. As in, buy yourself a Rolls Royce made of diamond dust more. There was a promise of elevated status and responsibility. Another rung on the ladder, a feather in his cap, the coveted high-waist big boy pants.

In short, promises of things to come that would’ve been enough to convince the Kardashians to stop getting plastic surgeries. If only in return Jeff would stay and make more money for the stakeholders.

Now, you have to know a few things about Jeff to put all this in perspective. He was beyond successful. He was a partner in a global firm and highly respected among his peers. Thought-leader and a sought after visionary.

But the company’s measure of success did no longer match his internal narrative. He didn’t need the external validation to give him a permission to be who he was or wanted to become.

He didn’t care for diamond dust cars or rungs on the ladder. What he did care about was making a positive difference. And his employer couldn’t offer him that.

Unlike Jeff, we often choose our fitness goals based on what achieving them signals to others.

It’s not uncommon for us to chase things in life because others see them valuable. We want a certain look or master the splits. We talk about how hard we trained, how high we climbed, how many visible abs we have in the shadows of the change room.

Instead of aiming for what would make us intrinsically content and happy, we chase what we think would make other people look at us and go “wow”. We chase fitness goals because we think it will elevate our status within our social circles.

Striving and sacrificing for these goals to win an official competition is a one thing. Doing them to challenge ourselves privately is another. But, to impress others, who might not even give a shit? An empty endeavour.

We lose. Even if we reach the goal.

If we cannot get to the goal, we’ll feel dishearten that we don’t have what it takes. That we are not motivated enough. As we sink into despair, we forget to realise that the goal we thought we wanted wasn’t ours in the first place.

And if we win? We might feel a moment of joy. Shortly followed by emptiness. Maybe even a blow of guilt because we sacrificed so much for something that we didn’t even want. Something that didn’t make us feel content.

The danger is that once we reach one goal, we don’t stop there. If we base our current goals on what we think we should be, we are chasing a constantly moving goal post.

We are looking at other people and what they have and can do. And so we continuously develop these shallow desires that drive our lives. Because we think it’ll eventually make us happier, more successful, more respected.

But at what point do we stop and ask if we are enough? What happens if we move away from achieving certain things based on what we think others think of us?

Being able to achieve our goals privately is the ultimate divider.

“If no one would ever know, would I be content at crushing the goals I set?” Our answers to that question shines a light on who is in charge. Is it us? Or is it our friends, coworkers, bosses or a specific cult we might belong to?

The reward from being able to achieve our goals regardless of the external forces that try to pull us. Without likes, claps or shares.

And that’s why Jeff quit his job.


*He’s real. But not Jeff.

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