Anyone who has ever been on a fitness journey realizes 2 things very early on:
- The number on the weighing scale doesn’t drop very quickly even if you’re doing killer workouts everyday
- Your motivation for the initial days comes primarily from wanting to keep your workout streak going (looking at all you folks doing the 30-day summer shred challenge from Chloe Ting — full disclosure, I’m one of them too :-) )
You might notice the following intangible benefits which no one else can see as proof of your progress:
- You feel physically stronger
- Your energy levels are generally high on days you exercise versus days you don’t
- Your 10-second planks become 30-second planks over a 30 day time horizon
- Your mood is better because you have a feeling of accomplishment for finishing your workouts
All of these are wonderful things to have and yet they are discounted because they aren’t as tangible as the number on the scale or the inches on the measuring tape.
We might feel inclined to measure our life’s success based on the size of our paycheck, our relationship status, the degrees and certifications we’ve earned and the extent of societal approval we’ve amassed — all of which are standard ways of measuring progress for a human being — at least that is what we tell ourselves.
What if, like the intangible signs of fitness that accrue when you exercise regularly, there are unmistakable markers of success other than the mainstream measures?
This article gives you 7 signs of success which you might be taking for granted in your own life.
1. You give more people in your life the benefit of the doubt
If you’ve gone from “It has been 3 days since I texted her — why hasn’t she messaged back? Does she not care? Are we not friends anymore? Is she messing with me? She has some nerve, that B****H” to “Maybe she’s overworked, she will text back when she can”. This is progress. You have learned how not to catastrophize an innocuous situation. And the best part is, even if you were being ignored, it won’t matter because you won’t register the ‘hard to get’ games that some people might drag you into because you are the type of person to invest your energy with people who will reflect the same amount of energy back at you.
2. You enjoy your own company as much as the company of other people
Plans canceled? No problem — you’ve got your own ways of having a perfectly enjoyable evening on your own with a book/movie or with a hobby. You don’t necessarily feel bad about either outcome because you’re blissed out either way. Your happiness isn’t in the hands of other people/te weather/circumstance in general. You’re perfectly capable of making your own happiness wherever you are.
3. You ask for help when you need it
I had a friend who liked to “play through the pain” during audit deadline season — this meant, working 16 hour days for weeks on end, even if she fell ill and was on the verge of fainting at her desk. Unfortunately, I admired this trait of hers and sought to emulate it myself. With time, we both learnt that not asking for help when we’re overloaded — whether at work, or at home, or with our emotions puts you on the fast track to burnout. There is nothing remotely glamorous about being burnt out. If you are able to recognize this tendency and set healthy boundaries and get help when you need it, that’s a strong indicator of emotional maturity. If you go to therapy, stay disciplined about your work hours and invest in simply resting up during the weekends, chances are you know what’s good for you and what isn’t.
4. There is at least one habit in your life which will really start to payoff only after 5+ years
Maybe it’s reading for 15 minutes every day, eating clean on 6 days of the week, or having a stable sleep cycle on weekdays and weekends. None of these things seems particularly appealing or enjoyable, but if you see the value in building meaningful habits that will serve you in the long run, it means you’re able to delay gratification and not the miss the forest for the trees. Bonus points, if you were unable to see the value in this habit a few years ago, but have built the discipline to stick with it in the recent years — you’re doing great!
5. You don’t peg your self-esteem on external validation
Sharma-ji’s son is going to the IIMs but you’re still working with the company that pays you to do what you love for a living? Your cousin bought himself a BMW, but you hate driving in the traffic riddled roads of Bangalore? Neha –mami’s daughter got married and moved to the USA but you’re in no rush to get married? If you used to be rattled by these arbitrary comparisons people would make to guilt-trip you into thinking your life was less complete than everyone else’s but that is no longer the case, congratulations. There is nothing more liberating than rescuing your self esteem from the greasy hands of people who don’t live your life. If you’re more ‘Zen’ about these kinds of things than you used to be, you’re doing much much better than most people.
6. You show up more than you slip up
You volunteered for this new project at work, but the Management team scrapped it within 2 months of its launch? You dated someone who wasted your time? But despite all this, you’re still showing up every day and doing this dance of trying and failing and trying again. Respect. The truest manifestation of courage isn’t in one grand act of bravery. It’s in the little attempts of unwavering persistence, especially on days when you feel like there is nothing left in you. If you always show up just one more time even after you’ve failed, you’ll be all right.
7. You focus your energy on things you can control
With only 2 days left until we’re officially in the last month of this bizarre year, you must be no stranger to moments of intense despair and frustration. If only a little, you are able to focus on things that you can control, such as deciding to look after yourself, talking to your family and friends and choosing to see the beauty in the little pleasures that even the pandemic cannot steal from you, you’re winning.
If you enjoyed reading this, please share this with a friend who might benefit from it.
And keep up the good work — don’t quit on your good habits even if they aren’t showing you any tangible benefits just yet.
Play the long game.