Expecting Progress

"Happiness = Reality - Expectations" - Elon Musk

I enjoy listening to podcasts. I have a few in my core rotation. A few that I usually skip (I should unsubscribe to these). A few that I test drive. These either come on recommendation, or as a way of buffering a mental model of a new thing I'm learning.

One such podcast that I'm test driving is Handstand Cast,put on by Emmet Louis and Mikael Kristiansen. I don't know much about Mikael, but I've followed Emmet's work for some time. In Episode 2: Coaching Handbalance, Emmet shares a nugget of gold:

“Out of ten workouts, one will be amazing. You will be on fire: new things, everything feels better, longer hold times. It’ll be great. Then 2-3, almost 30% of your workouts out of 10 will be shit. On paper you might get your hold times, but they’ll feel terrible, heavy. You’ll be distracted, unable to concentrate, whatever. Then the other 6-7 of that 10, you’ll go in, nothing remarkable happens. You won’t even remember them, as nothing remarkable happens. It’s like your bus ride to school, or work. You get on the bus, you ride to school, you don’t even remember what happened, when the dog got on the bus. That kind of thing. But those ones put the money in the bank, so to speak, and slowly get better over time.”

In my experience, this is a critical lesson. Not just in physical training, but in any pursuit. If you have picked a goal for yourself, and have a coordinated plan of attack to reach said goal, then its high time to put the goal out of your mind. Show up. Do the work. Remove expectations from the equation. James Clear's essay on Systems vs. Goals expands on this:

Furthermore, goals create an “either-or” conflict: either you achieve your goal and are successful or you fail and you are a disappointment. You mentally box yourself into a narrow version of happiness.

I've fallen into this trap countless times. I still do. Immediate gratification is so easily found in today's world. Desire of an outcome leads to suffering each day until the outcome is realized.

Execute your system. Progress is just as a calibration tool.