When I woke up this morning the last thing I wanted to do was go running – which is why I went. Multiple times during my run I noticed that my brain told me to just give up. Fortunately my body kept going each time that signal came. I was honestly surprised a couple of times to discover that I was still running as I felt that impulse to stop. On my return portion of the first 3 mile loop I was thinking about how slow I was going – I felt that I had been running 3 miles through a knee-deep swamp. I was deciding if I would be running for time – which would mean cutting a couple of miles off the run – or for distance – which would add 20 minutes or more to my run.
When I looked at my watch at the end of the three miles I almost fainted because my watch showed that I had done 3 miles within 1 minute of my normal 3-mile pace. That really changed my perspective for the rest of my run. I still felt very sluggish but I knew that my actual performance was typical so I was not as tempted to give up.
I suspect that the same truth applies to other parts of life. There is value in our subjective measurements of performance. When I feel bad about how well I am doing at something I should look for ways to improve my performance or my attitude. On the other hand, sometimes I need to let the subjective measure take a back seat to the objective measure of performance.
If I really am not doing well it is not very useful to keep saying “at least I’m satisfied with how well I’m doing.” I need to look into ways that I can improve so that I am doing well, not just feeling good about what I am doing. If I am doing well I should take that as a sign to not rely so heavily on the subjective feelings of inadequacy or frustration that might yet begin to mar my actual performance.