Imagine for a moment you’re a no-name athlete representing your no-name country in the Olympics. No one expects much from you. You and your country are just happy you’ve been invited to the dance. You come out, compete in your event, kick butt, and, surprisingly, finish 8th. You’re the 8th best in the world in your event! Immediately, you become your tiny nation’s most notable figure.
Now, imagine you’re the top Olympic athlete for a “superpower” country in your respective sport. You’re so good in fact, you have a cool nickname, “The Chosen One”. You come out, compete in your event, lay the proverbial egg, and, surprisingly, finish 8th. You are the 8th best in the world in your event. Immediately, you hang your head in disappointment and contemplate moving to a no-name country where no one knows your name.
The facts are the same—you finished 8th. But what changed? Answer: your expectations. And that can make all the difference.
Disappointment lies between your expectations and reality. If you begin a fitness and nutrition program and expect it to be perfect, you’re likely to be disappointed. But if you set realistic expectations, you’ll most likely succeed.
When I ran my first marathon, I “expected” to run it under four hours. The reality was, my training sucked. I recall my longest run being 14 miles (barely half the distance of a marathon). In addition, my weekly runs were inconsistent, if not nonexistent.
I recently saw a quote from actor Ryan Reynolds (wisdom can come from the most unsuspecting places). He said, “I don’t expect to finish a marathon. I train to finish a marathon.”
In that, my first, marathon, I ran a 4 [hour]:46 [minute]. After some time, and much, MUCH better training, I bested the four-hour mark. Whether I recognized it at the time or not, I stopped expecting to finish, and trained to finish.
Most people expect change to be linear, kinda like a rocket ship shooting straight toward the moon. But change isn’t like this.
Change looks less like the trajectory of a rocket ship and more like the stock market. You’ll go through many ups and downs, but if you simply remain “invested”, you’ll gain big returns.
You’ll experience many mistakes, failures, and setbacks. But if you learn from these, what feels like two steps back may lead to one giant leap forward. At times you’ll feel like you’re simply killing it. Other times, you’ll feel like you’re the one being killed . . . but that’s normal.
Many don’t [wanna] operate like this. They expect perfection. If it’s not all, it’s nothing. Perhaps it’s pride, blinding them from what they can realistically do instead of what they expect. The chasm that’s built between what’s expected and what’s real ends up getting filled with disappointment.
Set realistic expectations, show up and do the work, consistently, and you’ll be very happy with your results.