internal vs external validation motivation

These guys are motivated!!!

Hello there!

While we were on the subject of motivation the other day (and it’s good to know I’m not the only one), I got thinking about my goals list, and the fact that I haven’t done a goals update for a while. This is mainly because I don’t want to bore you all with a massive list of “No further progress” 🙂

It seems like I’m good at setting goals in January and making good progress, but stalling around the summer time, I wonder if anyone else has found a similar pattern with their goals? Or does your non-goal hitting period come at a different time of year, maybe around Christmas for example?

For me it’s pretty obvious what is happening, there is just way too much other fun stuff to be doing while the weather is good, be that going for a walk, going away on short or longer breaks, playing golf, or simply just chilling out with friends and family outdoors. Next year I might as well be realistic and insert a “goal hiatus” into my schedule between June and September!

Anyway I have made some small progress on a couple of goals this month, one of which was the running goal “Run a 1:30 Half Marathon” which I just about squeaked over the line on Sunday at 1:29 in the Reigate Half Marathon. This got me thinking about how people get their validation, or motivation, or whatever you want to call it. Many people would stick that straight on Facebook and I would call this seeking external validation, and I would have done exactly that about 5 years ago, but now I am just not that bothered.

This could be partially because I can’t be arsed with FB anymore, I just don’t get bum-thrills because someone I knew 8 years ago “likes” the fact that I did a run or did a run in a particular time (do they even know that is the time I was aiming for? Do they know if that time was good or bad in general or for a runner of my standard? Most probably not in both cases!!!)

Ah… wait… I can see what you are thinking already. If I am so detached from all of that low level human emotion rubbish and floating on this higher plain above those Facebook semi-morons, then why do I need to post it on the god damn internet on my own blog! Who do I think I am FFS!?

Well I guess you got me there, but I would argue that setting goals on a blog and then trying to achieve them is actually at least 50% an exercise in internal validation. It’s being personally accountable by making those goals public 1. I also find people are more scathing of people who they know (behind their backs of course) who try to set and are banging on all the time about their goals and achievements so I’d rather avoid boring old friends to death and just post it on here instead, to people who I know are of somewhat of a similar mind.

Look, this isn’t all about the book of faces, I am not saying everyone who posts on FB is an externally motivated person and vice versa. I think it could be one of the stronger indicators, but it clearly goes much deeper than that. Let’s quickly move on and look at some of the other stuff…


are you internally or externally validated

  • If you feel you haven’t performed well but then someone says you have in fact done well, and you instantly feel better, this surely must be a strong sign you prefer external validation. I have often felt like I’ve not performed well enough to my internal expectations despite others saying I’ve done well, and it doesn’t tend to have too much effect on my mood or assessment of my performance.
  • Conversely you may think you have done well at something and find someone “hatin’ on you” and it really brings you down. (On a side note if this is you, please don’t listen to them!!! Hater’s gon’ hate and all that!). Again I find that it’s easy to ignore such comments because I know internally if I’ve done well or not, and besides, they are probably just jealous or have some other serious pathological issue and are probably going to be run over by a 10 tonne truck tomorrow at any rate 2
  • Do you like regular feedback from your manager at work? Do you like your yearly/6 monthly/quarterly reviews? If so then again you may well be an external validation seeker. If however you know you’ve been doing a good job and your managers meetings are just a waste of your precious time, your are probably fine with having your own internal validation.
  • I guess this boils down to simply “not giving a shit what other people think of you”, but there is a slight difference between just not caring and rationally assessing each persons comments on it’s own merits, and then dismissing the ones that you think are simply badly judged, which is how I prefer to go about things if I possibly can.
  • I also think this sort of thing is strongly linked to whether you have an internal or external locus of control so go have a read of that older post if you haven’t seen it already, it’s worth a look in my humble opinion 😉


validation and financial independence

It’s also worth noting that as with most things there is no black or white here. I would say I lean towards being internally validated but if someone I respect in a given field says I did a good job in said field, then it feels good and that is obviously an externally validated feeling.

However, with us FI chasers I strongly feel our validation swing-o-meter™ needs to be pointing more towards the internal end of the spectrum because let’s face it, it is hard to come out of the closet and talk about those things with the wider world for a start. And secondly most people just think you are nuts/deluded/a complete idiot if you tell them about your aspirations of FI, or a lottery winner/greedy/lazy/inheritance grabbing barstard if you are already there.


What do you think readers, do you seek more of the internal or external validation and why?


Other updates

What else have we been up to? A fair bit as usual!

We went to Bath for a long weekend for our 2nd wedding anniversary which was very nice. A word of warning if anyone goes there though… Watch out for the parking!!! It is a bit of a nightmare and will cost you around £10 per day. I would recommend staying in the centre and getting the train there if possible! Or barring that do the park and ride. We googled “Free parking in Bath” and unfortunately the top hit was woefully out of date and it turns out there is no free parking in Bath (that we could find at least, it’s all permit holders only).

Despite having the weekend away and being generally busy we are also looking at a lower than normal spending month so far, and with not all that much planned between now and the end of the year I am hoping we can smash out some low spending months at least in October and November as well to bring our savings rate goals up to scratch a bit!

Check out our mega frugal (and not so healthy) dinner one night when we were away… living the high life! 🙂

goals motivation validation


I’ve also got myself another beer kit and will start brewing that soon. I will get up a “how to” post soon, it’s pretty easy but as usual there are a few “gotcha’s” to watch out for along the way which I think will be worth writing up my experiences with it.

The garden is producing lots of green tomatoes (great!) and a small amount of red ones. As the growing season draws to a close I must say it’s been an interesting experiment with the first year of having a garden and I think I will ramp up my efforts next year, I think I can do a lot better.

goals motivation validation 2

Anyone like fried green tomatoes?


Other goals progress:

Learn about and submit a tax form – Completed! Read here and here for the step by step process if wanted to do this yourself and missed it!

Get my golf handicap down to 20 – I am now down to 22 so moving in the right direction again. I think one or two more good rounds and I could actually hit this target before the end of the year!

Build one Android App/Build one iPhone App – I’ve secured a gig to build one of each and will get paid for it so despite me having far less time than I originally thought when I wrote up those business goals, I will at least have ticked one of them off before the year is out! Phew!


  1. In all fairness you can probably try do a similar thing on FB as well but really who is paying attention to that sort of thing with the hundreds of shitty spam posts and “yay my baby threw up for the first time today” status updates constantly filling up your timeline, it must get lost in the ether pretty quickly
  2. What do you mean I sound like the one with the serious pathological issue!? 😉