You wouldn’t expect a 6 year to have the expectations to achieve what a 12 year old can.
You wouldn’t expect a 12 year to be able to compete with a 21 year old, at pretty much anything.
Now that’s pretty broad and generic, so let’s get a little bit more specific.
Who do you think would have the edge in a game of Golf between two players, both 30 years old, but one has been training and playing since he or she was 9, and the other has been training and playing for 1 year.
So, should we, as adults, be judging ourselves against others or putting expectations on ourselves that we wouldn’t place on anyone else?
The clear and obvious answer here is a resounding ‘no’.
Yet why is there this frustrating trait in grown, mature, experienced, logical, sensible adults, where we can’t help but set unrealistic expectations for ourselves? And then judge our own progress by comparing against others before comparing against ourselves from 6, 12, 24 months ago?
To clarify, we’re all for setting the bar high. Set your standards high. Have high expectations for yourself and those around you. Hold yourself accountable. Have a ridiculous work ethic to achieve everything you want.
But always look at the bigger picture, and as a responsible adult, take the bigger picture into account.
Bruce, Tony and Steve (we wonder where those names came from…)
This is a particularly simplistic way to look at the topic, but it helps make clear what we’re trying to say…
You have a person that has very little experience in terms of playing sport, training or being particularly active.
They start training at a fantastic, local independent gym.
Or they start participating in MMA.
(see what we’ve done there).
They’re 32 years old.
Two years later of serious training, they’ve made huge strides. Their personal progress and growth has been incredible. They are so much happier with their lives.
For ease, let’s call this person Bruce.
Now, what’s the way we’ve somehow wired our brain to think? Compare yourself to others.
Yup, forget how amazing you have been. Just go ahead and compare yourself to others.
“That person is older than me, I should be better than them”.
“I train just as much as that person, I should be better than them”.
Now, to pause here for a moment, we want to try and keep to the subject of ‘training age’.
So let’s briefly forget about comparing yourself to the photo-shopped social media trash selling their souls for a quick quid. Or comparing yourself to professional athletes, that may or may not be using more than just standard supplements. Or even taking into account biology, biomechanics and lifestyle.
That post will be later…
So for now, this is about training age.
Bruce has been training 2 years, and to keep it simple, we’ll say his training age is ‘2’. Bruce has been training twice a week, but doesn’t do anything else outside of the gym.
Bruce compares himself to Tony. Tony is 24 and has been training in Gymnastics since he was 5 years old, as well as training at the same gym as Bruce for 2 years. Again, for the sake of ease, let’s say Tony’s training age is therefore 19.
Bruce, rather annoyingly, compares himself to Steve as well. Steve is 45 years old. However, Steve has been training seriously for the past 2 years, but has been training 4 times per week. So if Bruce has a training age of ‘2’, we could argue that Steve has a training age of 4. Again, quite simplistic, but we’re trying to prove a point.
Bruce, comparing himself to anyone else, other than himself from 2 years ago, is putting him in a lose-lose position.
He’ll grow annoyed and frustrated. But for no reason whatsoever.
As a result, Bruce might lose motivation, and start to give up. Or, become incredibly competitive and push himself harder than he should, and end up burning himself out and injuring himself. Bruce might grow even more disappointed, as he is trying to essentially chase others, and never reach that goal.
Progress is progress
I hope you see where we’re at now.
So when you’re thinking about your current ‘situation’, before comparing yourself to others, think of the bigger picture and YOUR training age.
How long have you been training for?
How seriously have you been training?
What are your goals/expectations, and are they taking into account the bigger picture?
Your progress is your progress. No one elses.
So find a way to continue to make progress, no matter how big or small, and ultimately, find a way to make progress be part of a healthy and happy lifestyle.
Above all else, enjoy a healthy and happy life.