It’s a fact of life that we are all individuals with a unique personality, a range of skills and abilities, strengths and weaknesses and differing aims and expectations about what we want out of life. I have come across many young people (and adults) who have increasingly developed low self confidence and self-esteem because they compare themselves to others. Whilst this is a natural thing to do (and we all do it), it is really a quite unhelpful and unhealthy habit to break but we always have to keep focused on number one, ourselves.
Whether you are developing academically, losing weight, gaining muscle or doing DIY it is in our nature to compare. You get a ‘C’ grade and automatically ask others what they achieved. You come out of an exam and compare the answers you gave. You stand at the free weights about to lift 15KG when you notice the muscled stud next to you about to lift 40Kg, or you hang some awesome wallpaper and the next day feel envious about the decor in living room of the neighbour. Keeping up with others is really not the key to motivation, self-discipline and personal satisfaction. We have to accept (as should our children), that in life there are always going to be people better than us and worse than us and therefore the only logical comparison to make is that against the only person who is like you, YOU! This sounds obvious but it really does work. Keeping records about progress is not something only teachers are expected to do and show when Ofsted come visiting. Creating graphs and charts detailing progress in any of the areas similar to those mentioned above is a positive step to raising self-confidence and self-esteem. Progress may be slow but with regular monitoring and recording you will be able to notice improvement over time, however gradual.
A test result of a ‘D’ or an ‘E’ may seem, at the time, like a poor result. Comparisons will be made against others and motivation levels will rapidly decline. It is vital at this point to make the comparison between the grade achieved and the grade expected based on prior learning and achievement. At this point you know where you are at (D or E grade), you know where you should be aiming for (C grade for example), and therefore you know how far you are away from this expectation and a discussion can be had as to how to get there. A bit like planning a journey. There is little point being upset about not arriving at your destination if you don’t know where you are, you have a vague idea of where you want to go but no map (or SAT NAV) to help you get there. Of course frustration/anger is likely to ensue.
The same can be said of physical progress through exercise. Whilst you should be careful about obsessing about your body (which can be unhealthy in itself) if you have fitness/health goals you want to achieve then knowing your start point and goal/target will help you track how well you are doing. If your goal is to lose weight then expect progress to be gradual. You won’t drop 2 stone in a week just like a young person won’t go from a grade ‘E’ to a grade ‘C’ in a week. Patience is key but so is tracking or charting progress. In my next blog I will show you how I have used charts to help motivate students and gymnasts I coach in the Great Britain Double Mini Trampoline team.