When you look in the mirror, do you see a physique that’s pretty darn good by most people’s standards’but not quite good enough to satisfy you 100 percent? When you walk out of the gym after a well-planned and properly executed workout, do you sometimes feel that even though the session was great, deep inside you know you’ll have to raise your intensity a notch or two to reach your goals?
Although your friends are always telling you how disciplined they think you are, do you go through periods when you feel your current standards simply aren’t high enough? You’ve come a long way with your training’and you know it. But do you often believe those accomplishments aren’t nearly enough?
What’s more, do you feel guilty about not being content with what you’ve achieved thus far? You know you should be very happy with your progress’especially when you compare yourself to others, who’d be thrilled with just a fraction of your success.
Do you have constant feelings of anxiety, restlessness, uneasiness and the sense that you’re not quite good enough? Maybe you describe those feelings as being maladjusted, disoriented or unorganized. Maybe you feel out of sync, out of step or even out of control. Maybe you need to follow your friends’ advice and quit pushing yourself so hard, chill out, enjoy the journey, stop and smell the roses, and’for God’s sake’just be happy once and for all. Hey, maybe you’re going crazy.
Well, I’m happy to inform you that you can relax. You aren’t crazy, and you probably don’t need to run to a psychiatrist to get a prescription for Prozac, Zoloft or Paxil. What you’re experiencing, my friend, is angst. It’s quite common for a winner like you, who’s striving to become the very best at what you do. That uneasy feeling that causes you to continually push for a higher level is common among ambitious, highly motivated people. You’re in good company. The people who are the very best at what they do have the same angst that you endure. Anyone who’s ever achieved success has had that angst as well.
I was listening to a talk-radio program in which Bill O’Reilly, a top cable-television newsman, was being interviewed. “Don’t you ever step back and feel proud of all the good you’re doing for people?” the interviewer asked. O’Reilly replied, “No, I really don’t. If I were to take the time to do that now, I’d lose my edge. I’d stop doing what I do best.”
O’Reilly understands the tremendous power of the angst inside. He knows how to harness that force, embrace it and use it to make him better at what he does. He recognizes it as a useful tool and employs it to his advantage.
I have that same approach to the feeling that always seems to be lingering in my own mind. Don’t get me wrong; I definitely appreciate what I’ve accomplished in the past. I don’t feel, however, that I’ve even come close to my full potential.
Family members and friends tell me all the time that I should be satisfied with what I’ve done in the past. Proud? Yes! Grateful? Heck yeah! But satisfied? No way!
If it were in my mental makeup to be easily satisfied, there’s no way in the world I would have gotten this far in my career. I’d have been content after I got to weighing 200 pounds, bench-pressing 300 pounds, winning my first local show and definitely after capturing my first national championship.
In the world of bodybuilding business I would have been comfortable with what I achieved after my first article was featured in an international bodybuilding magazine, my first book was published, my first video was produced or the very first version of my Web site was created. In fact, if I were easily satisfied, I would have never quit the safe, decent-paying full-time job that I had for 15 years to chase my dream of making a huge impact in the world of bodybuilding. I would have settled for a lot less. I probably would have just dabbled in the business of bodybuilding, pursuing it as a hobby’as so many others do.
The angst inside me kept me from settling for less than what I really wanted to accomplish. It’s what has driven me to my current level of success in bodybuilding’both on and off the competitive stage. And it’s what will drive me to take my physical development and business skills to the next level’and every higher level I achieve after that.
What about you? How are you dealing with your own angst? Is it driving you to an unbelievable series of accomplishments? Or is it creating an overwhelming mental challenge and stalling your efforts?
How you deal with the angst inside can either make you or break you. Mishandled or misdiagnosed, angst can be the most destructive mental roadblock you face as you strive to reach your bodybuilding goals’or any other goals in life. Handled effectively, it can be the most powerful, performance-enhancing force you ever experience.
There are tremendous rewards to be gained for effectively dealing with your uneasiness’and painful consequences to be suffered when you do not. It’s All a Matter of Perception
Lesson 1 is, you must condition your brain to perceive angst as a positive emotion. The key to your continued success’both in and out of the gym’will depend on how quickly and effectively you turn angst into power. What you may be interpreting as a debilitating problem should really be viewed as an empowering asset. Effectively dealing with angst may all come down to your perception.
Successful people realize that, in order to maximize productivity in their lives, they absolutely must create deadlines’and do so on a continual basis. Deadlines force you to use all of your physical, mental and emotional abilities to the fullest. Without deadlines, why would you ever need to perform at your very best?
Granted, deadlines can become quite burdensome. Without them, however, you’d have no real sense of urgency to get anything accomplished’let alone produce outstanding results. Even if you don’t meet your ambitious, self-imposed deadlines, you’ll end up being far more productive over time than you will if you don’t give yourself a deadline.
Think of angst as your mental deadline. It’s like a little voice inside your head telling you, ‘Enough is enough! Now is the time that I must improve my situation!’ You should embrace your angst the same way you view deadlines’a necessary evil to becoming a highly productive person.
Use the Tremendous Force to Empower You
Many people spend too much time running away from their dissatisfaction. They try to deny the angst they feel inside.
If you really want an extraordinary physique, you’ll undoubtedly have to pay an extraordinary price. Isn’t that how everything works in life? Don’t be afraid to pay the price for success. Part of that price is angst.
Many people misdiagnose their angst as an obstacle. Some mistakenly believe it means they’re in some way defective. Eventually, they’ll start assuming that, just because things aren’t happening as smoothly and quickly as they’d like, they must be doing something wrong. They start questioning if they’re really meant to be good at their chosen endeavor.
Just because something doesn’t come to you as easily as you’d like doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing it wrong’or you’re not good enough. It also doesn’t mean you weren’t meant to be doing that thing.
The more you want out of life, the more you’ll usually have to pay. The higher price may come in the form of extra effort, determination’the need to develop additional skills’and more time dealing with the angst inside. If it doesn’t come easily, you may actually be taking the appropriate route. Would it make you feel a little more confident when tackling your challenges if you knew that you weren’t alone? Wouldn’t your angst be alleviated if you knew that everyone in your situation experiences what you’re experiencing?
Remember, all successful people feel the way you do. What makes them successful is how effectively they handle their feelings. So before you make massive changes to your approach or give up altogether, make sure you’re properly dealing with the inevitable angst we all have inside. Most of the time success all comes down to attitude.
Reference the Past
Haven’t you had experiences in the past when angst turned out to be an empowering emotion? In retrospect, wasn’t dissatisfaction the feeling that eventually forced you to demand more from yourself? In the long run that seeming discomfort made you stronger and better, didn’t it?
Why don’t you simply use those references from your past to empower you now? Think about it for a moment: What was it that caused you to turn that sensation into a life-enhancing experience? More than likely, the anxiety caused by your not taking control of the direction of your life became too painful and overwhelming. You couldn’t suppress that fire in your belly any longer. You felt you had no alternative other than to change the direction in which you were heading. The key to your continued success is to use the powerful force inside of you sooner rather than later.
Shouldn’t You Enjoy the Journey?
What about those who tell you to ‘enjoy the journey,’ ‘stop and smell the roses’ and/or ‘chill out’? Shouldn’t you just try to make yourself happy? If your mind is so powerful, can’t you condition it to be satisfied with what you already have and what you’ve already accomplished?
It would be nice if life worked that way, wouldn’t it? In life, however, you must constantly grow if you want to stay happy. What made you happy in the past won’t necessarily make you happy in the future. That’s just human nature.
You’ll never be ‘there.’ If you believe that the day will come when you feel totally satisfied with all aspects of your life, you’re setting yourself up for eventual disappointment. I don’t care how hard, how long or how intelligently you work toward self-improvement, that day will never come. You Can Pay a Little Now or Pay a Lot More Later
Many times in life the things that cause you the most discomfort and pain in the short term become the most character-building, life-launching experiences in the long term. Isn’t that how it usually turns out with your heavy weight-training sessions? It’s those workouts’the ones when you’re slightly fearful, exhibit courage anyway and smash through physical and mental plateaus’that are the most rewarding in the long run. The same can be said for your cardio sessions, right? Aren’t your most satisfying stints on the treadmill the ones when you want to quit halfway through because you’re huffing and puffing so badly’but you persevere. At the end of those somewhat painful but rewarding sessions you not only finish your scheduled time, but you also set personal records for distance traveled and calories burned.
Conversely, the things in life that appear to be the most pleasurable in the short run often become the most painful in the long term. Have you ever decided to miss a workout for no important reason? Whatever you thought you were going to gain by skipping that day of training was soon negated by your feelings of being out of sync or letting yourself down. It only takes a few times of cheating on your well-structured bodybuilding diet to help you come to those same conclusions. The longer-lasting price you pay in guilt, lost momentum and diminished pride is often too hefty a price to pay for the short-lived gratification of pigging out on junk food.
The bottom line is this: Success has a price. You can either pay a little now by effectively dealing with the angst inside or a lot more later on by choosing not to deal with it. Whichever you choose, you’re going to pay something. Managing your angst can be quite bothersome at times’there’s no doubt about it’but dealing with months or years of denying it can be devastating when you’re forced to look at all the time and abilities you’ve wasted and can never get back. The choice is yours.
Decide right now what price you’re willing to pay. I think I’ve been very clear about the amount you should invest in the overall quality of your bodybuilding efforts’and life.
Be patient with yourself, and work with the angst inside. Embrace it, and remember that we’re all dealing with that same challenge on the inside’regardless of what may appear on the outside. That angst is your friend’not your enemy. Editor’s note: You can contact Skip La Cour via his Web site, www.skiplacour.com. IM