242: In The End, It’s You Vs. You.

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In the end, it’s you vs. you. Is this about living or dying?

It seems that this is a common inspirational quote used a lot in fitness clubs and weight loss programs. But I first saw it on a t-shirt this weekend.

I was at one of my favorite places to eat, Aria Kabab in Queens, New York. I told the person that the quote was very true and he asked me how I interpreted the quote. He had a different interpretation. And it was interesting enough that I left thinking that I was going to discuss it with you for this week’s episode. Now, you might also see variations of this quote that tell you to make sure that you’re the winner. To me, this is misleading and goes against the basic message. The only way to lose is when we forget the basic message and start comparing ourselves to others or start thinking about ourselves as a different person.

My interpretation is that life is all about improving ourselves and helping others improve as well. And the only true way to measure our progress is to look back and see how much we’ve each improved. You can’t measure progress against somebody else’s current status or even against another person’s improvement. The only thing that matters is that you’re getting better each day. Even a little bit of a gradual improvement will result in big changes over time.

My friend at Aria said that I was the first person to comment on his shirt and had a different meaning in mind. While I took the phrase, in the end, figuratively, he took it to mean exactly what it implied. He said that when we die, everything we did up to that point is what we have to rely on. There’s no asking for help from anybody. Not our parents. Not our friends. We have only ourselves and our preparation.

Listen to the full episode to hear my comments on how these two interpretations work together and some advice on how to structure your goals so they have the most meaning. Or you can read the full transcript below.

Transcript

It seems that this is a common inspirational quote used a lot in fitness clubs and weight loss programs. But I first saw it on a t-shirt this weekend.

I was at one of my favorite places to eat, Aria Kabab in Queens, New York. I told the person that the quote was very true and he asked me how I interpreted the quote. He had a different interpretation. And it was interesting enough that I left thinking that I was going to discuss it with you for this week’s episode.

Now, you might also see variations of this quote that tell you to make sure that you’re the winner. To me, this is misleading and goes against the basic message. The only way to lose is when we forget the basic message and start comparing ourselves to others or start thinking about ourselves as a different person.

My interpretation is that life is all about improving ourselves and helping others improve as well. And the only true way to measure our progress is to look back and see how much we’ve each improved. You can’t measure progress against somebody else’s current status or even against another person’s improvement. The only thing that matters is that you’re getting better each day. Even a little bit of a gradual improvement will result in big changes over time.

My friend at Aria said that I was the first person to comment on his shirt and had a different meaning in mind. While I took the phrase, in the end, figuratively, he took it to mean exactly what it implied. He said that when we die, everything we did up to that point is what we have to rely on. There’s no asking for help from anybody. Not our parents. Not our friends. We have only ourselves and our preparation.

As I got to thinking about this, I realized the two meanings fit together well. There’s no winner or loser here. What it means is that we each have to keep a bigger goal in mind. We need to improve and measure our improvement against ourselves and at the same time, we need to make sure that we’re improving good things. Things that will help us now and later.

You see, life is a race. It’s a race to do as much good in this world as we can and that means we need to keep getting better so we can take on bigger and more meaningful projects.

I’m not going to turn this episode into a religious talk. That’s why I’m sticking to things that we can all agree on. The need to improve ourselves and do good for the short time we have available.

Just think of it like this. There’s 365 days each year. And if you live to be 80 years old, then that means you have just 29,200 days. Since most of us spend the first 20 years getting through school, that leaves 21,900 days.

If you use one M&M candy for each day, and there’s about 500 M&M’s per pound, then the remaining days fill about 45 bags. And if you’re in you’re 40 years old already, then you’re down to just 30 bags.

I encourage you to make each day count. Don’t let a single day pass by without improving something about yourself that will help you now while you still have time and later when your record is all you have left to you.

Aim high and set big goals full of lasting meaning that will help you later. And set smaller goals that you can measure your progress on that will help you now. By keeping your smaller goals aligned with your bigger goals, you’ll be making progress and heading in the right direction.

And if it’s been a while since you listened to episode #1 of this podcast, I encourage you to back and listen now. Keep what I’ve just mentioned in mind. I’m referring to the second episode since the first was episode #0.

As programmers, it’s actually natural to start counting from 0 instead of 1.

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