Get Up And Code 053: Getting Back Up
When was the last time you screwed up?
What did you do afterwards?
That is what this episode of Get Up and CODE is all about. In this episode I talk about what happens when you mess up and why it is so important to focus more on getting back on track than it is on being perfect.
Have a listen and let me know what you think.
John: Hey everyone, welcome back to Get Up and CODE. I’m John Sonmez and I am here all alone by myself today. This episode is going to be a solo episode. I’m going to be talking about a topic that I think is pretty important that a lot of people have been asking me about. It’s something that I frequently get asked about, something that we all deal with.
Before we get into that I did want to do a couple of things here. First of all, I want to talk about the fact that this is episode 53. I stopped doing the episode numbers during the recording because I wasn’t sure what order some of the episodes were going to go out, but I’m pretty confident that this will be 53. Last week was 52. I’m not queuing things up right now, but that’s a huge milestone for me personally doing this podcast because I’ve been doing this podcast every single week. I haven’t missed a week for 52 weeks. This will be the 53rd so that makes one year. This is sort of my after—I’ve made it one year at this point. 52 was the one year point.
I’m pretty happy about that. When I started Get Up and CODE I had planned to at least go 6 months. I was really hoping to hit the year and things have been really good. I think our audience is really growing. There’s a lot of you out there listening now, a lot of emails and a lot of interaction. I’m finding that this is really helping people so I’m really happy about that.
When I started out with Get Up and CODE my focus was to reach developers out there that might need some help. We tend to be an overweight, not really physically active section of society and there’s really no need for that. If you have a good mind, if you’re smart there’s no reason why you shouldn’t apply that smart and apply it to your diet and to fitness and to be in better shape than most people as well.
There’re a lot of you out there, I know, that are probably listening to this show that are struggling. You are looking for some help. You’ve struggled with weight. A lot of people struggle with this or with fitness so I really intended for this show to be helpful to those people. If you’re already a fitness enthusiast to be—sort of something where you could go and you know that there’s other people that share at least 2 things in common with you. Not all the hype and not all the crazy stuff. I’m talking about on the show what I know about.
Sometimes I’m wrong. I mean I’m not 100% perfect, but I’m talking about things not trying to have this big selling you on some supplement or something like that. I’m just talking about things, how they are and practical advice because I’m out here living in both worlds as a software developer, as someone who hits the gym regularly who’s trying to stay in shape and get in shape at times. So yeah, thanks to everyone who’s been listening to the show. I really appreciate it.
I know some of you have hung in there from the very beginning like the first episode and I’ve heard some people saying that they had gone back through the episodes and had caught up. I really appreciate the support. If you have questions or comments or hey, if you want to be on the show, if you’ve got a story to share email me at email@example.com and let me know. Definitely appreciate that and also for some of the feedback on iTunes. I think a lot of people have been discovering it from there. Thanks again. I really appreciate it. Glad to be doing this show. Hopefully this show will go on for a while longer and hopefully it will continue to be a benefit to people listening to it.
I actually wanted to read an email I got because I think it’s cool to hear about the show helping people out there. This email is from Christian Seitzer. Hopefully I’m saying it right, Christian Seitzer, I think that’s it. Christian, correct me if I’m wrong here. It says, “Hi John, I’m listening to your Get Up and CODE podcast since the first episode” all right, that’s pretty cool. “It was a big motivational help and gave me a lot of useful information. Please allow me to express my sincerest thanks for that.”
To answer your questions I actually send out, this is an email from my email list. “Yes, I’m aware you probably meant them rhetorically. Since March 6 of this year I made it my habit to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. I’m using the Withings Smart Body Analyzer with the Withings Pulse to track my progress.” They’re similar to the devices produced by Fitbit. “I also started to eat less fast food and sweets. Since then I’m slowly but steadily losing weight. I’m not sure I would have made this investment in my health without your podcast so thanks again, Chris.”
Yeah, thank you Chris for writing. I appreciate you sending an email. It’s definitely encouraging to get emails like this to know that this is having a positive impact. Congratulations, that’s great. I’m really excited that you’ve been able to lose this weight, that you’re getting in shape and you’re sticking with things. I think I’d send out this email, it’s from my email list, from my newsletter talking about the one thing that most successful people have in common which is consistency. Consistency is important which brings us to the topic of this episode.
It’s related to consistency. It’s not consistency itself but what happens actually when you’re not consistent. What happens when you screw up? I mean we all screw up from time to time. I screw up. I definitely have my screw ups. It might be that you break your diet. It might be that you missed the gym. Screw up here can be you might miss a day, you might miss a week, you might miss a year. Really the question is what happens when this happens.
A lot of people when they first start out with a new diet or fitness program they tend to do really good. They tend to be very enthusiastic about it because it’s on their mind. It’s easy to get started with something, but it’s really difficult to be consistent and to follow through. We have the self-destructive tendency, at least most of us do. I know that I do which is basically that once we mess up, once we fall off the horse we tend to go into what I call the death spiral which is where we basically make things worse and worse for ourselves.
Now, maybe this has happened to you. Maybe you’ve been in this situation where you were doing really good at a thing and then you messed up. Once you messed up, let’s say that you’re doing a new diet, you’re trying to lose some weight. You’re looking at the scale and every day you’re seeing it go down. Friday night comes along and you go out to eat. You’re pretty dang hungry because you’ve been starving yourself the rest of the week so you order way more food than you should. You get dessert. You just chow down on food.
Even at that point, even in that evening when you first make the mistake you start to feel guilty. You know what I’m talking about because we’ve all been there. That guilt at that very point in time, you’ve got a choice to make. It’s either you’re now going to fix things and make things better or you’re going to let that guilt make it so that you now go further down this path, right?
I broke my diet so now, what the heck? I might as well have some ice cream as well. I might as well do this. That’s what tends to happen unfortunately most of the time. This is the bad mindset to have because we’re all going to fail. We’re all going to make mistakes and I talked about this fear of failure in a previous episode so we know that having that fear of failure is something that’s important to get rid off. We also have to recognize that we are going to mess up. We’re going to screw up and we’re going to screw up big time and when we do how we react to the screw up is much more important than not screwing up.
Basically, I guess what I would say is that if you focus on trying to not screw up, if that’s where you spend all your energy then you are going to be in a worse position than if you focus your energy on recovering after screwing up. If you have the realistic expectation that you are going to mess up and you have a plan for when you mess up of what you’re going to do, you’re going to be in a much better position than you would if you took that same energy and you tried as hard as you can to not screw up because we’re only human, right? We all screw up.
You can go on a very long streak of being perfect and then when you screw up, if you have devoted all that energy, in fact, the more energy that you devote to not screwing up the harder that screw up is going to be, the more it’s going to hit you, the more that you’re going to slam right into the ground when you do screw up and the more likely you’re going to be to go on that death spiral where you’re basically going to just do all kinds of self destructive things.
That’s really the thing that I would encourage you to do is to change your mindset, to not think of screwing up as the end of the world. I think that’s the problem that a lot of people have is that they have this all or nothing thinking about things. This is where it really ties into consistency because consistency, sure, it’s hitting it every day, day in and day out, but it’s also recovering from the screw ups, from the failures and keep on going.
It’s so much more powerful if you can be consistent by continuing to go even if you miss a week than it is if you are consistent for some point and then you just drop off completely, right? You really need to focus on your diet and your fitness goals and making sure that it’s for the long term. It’s not something that you’re going to just try and do for some short term period.
You’re going to have setbacks. That’s the other thing to realize is that sometimes going forward is going to require taking 2 steps back. Sometimes you’re going to take 3 steps forward and then 2 steps back and then 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. If you keep on doing that consistently over time you’re going to keep on moving forward. As long as you’re taking more forward steps than you are backward steps you’re making progress.
Now, contrast this with what most people do which is they take a bunch of forward steps, so maybe you’re taking 3 steps forward, 3 steps forward and then they hit 1 back step and then from there on every single day that they put in the books is back steps. It’s back step, back step, back step. It’s called backsliding. That’s what tends to happen. That’s the natural condition of being a human being that you’re most likely to fall into is that when you mess up you keep messing up.
If you can just change that one behavior, if you can just make it so that every day that you’re trying to make forward progress regardless of what’s happened in the past. If you can just change that then imagine where you’ll go. It doesn’t make very much difference over a short period of time. See, this is where in the long run this is how you win by thinking long term for the long game because a failure in the short term is bad.
When you screw up in the short term, if you’re just looking from that very small window, it tends to be a very bad thing that’s why it’s so disheartening is because if your viewpoint is on the short term then that one failure it actually is meaningful. If you look at it from the long term it doesn’t matter very much. I have to convince myself of this a lot of times too not just in the fitness and diet side, but just sometimes I put unnecessary pressure on myself on how much work I need to get done in a day.
If you listen to my YouTube videos or you follow my blog, you’re familiar probably with the fact that I use the Pomodoro Technique to gauge my work, to plan my schedule. I try to hit about 10 Pomodoro’s a day. In a week I want to usually do somewhere between 50 to 60 Pomodoros. That’s how much work that I want to do.
Now, sometimes in a day I’ve got a lot of things that come up and I don’t end up getting quite hitting that goal. I tend to think that that day is a waste or a loss. Just because I hit 8 instead of 10 or 9 instead of 10 or maybe even 6 instead of 10 or maybe even something came up and I just couldn’t get anything done that day so it was zero. Well, if I look at the week perspective, from that week, if I missed one day that’s a big chunk of the week. If it’s a weekday, 5 week days that’s a fifth. That’s a lot. That’s a lot of productivity that’s lost.
When you zoom out a little bit to the month and you say, okay, well let’s say you lost one working day out of the month, that’s not that big of a deal. It’s really not going to affect too much. If you zoom out further to a year, well, one day out of the year, big deal. It’s not that big of a deal. In fact 3 days out of the year not a big deal. You have a lot more range.
The thing is though, just looking at it from that perspective, if I said, “Oh, dang, I didn’t hit my goal today. I didn’t hit my 10 Pomodoros.” I decided, “Okay, well, I guess I might as well just play video games and forget about this” and I did that the next day, over time that would add up and that would be extremely destructive.
The key think is to have that perspective to say, “Look, I’m looking at this from the long term.” If we transition this back to diet and fitness, more on the diet side because this is where we screw up more often. Let’s say you had that one Friday night where you ate way too many calories. You ate 6,000 calories. You had a big dinner and you just pigged out all day.
Okay, so that stinks. That sucks. If you look at it from the week perspective, you might have blown the whole week’s worth of cutting. You might have been dieting and you might have been cutting your calories and in one day you basically made up that whole deficit for the week. Yeah, for the week perspective that one failure could be a really big deal.
If you zoom out to the month and you say okay, well—obviously you can’t screw up like this all the time, but if you zoom out to the month that one screw up is not going to seem like a big deal. If you can zoom out a little bit further even to the year, a few screw ups like that are not going to be a big deal in the overall long term effect that you’re going to have. It’s not going to be that big of a deal. If you zoom out to several years where you’re going to try to make a lifestyle change, see this is the point where we get to the difference between a diet and a lifestyle change. This is why I say don’t try and just get on a diet.
You might get on a diet from time to time. You’re trying to lose some weight in a rapid amount of time. You’re trying to make a rapid change. If you’re overweight right now like most people, most common problem. If you’re overweight don’t think that you’re going to solve the problem by getting on a diet. You’ve got to think more long term than that because a lifestyle is something that has a bigger picture. A diet might be like, “Oh, in 3 months I’m going to lose this much weight” or whatever. That’s a short time frame.
In fact, a lot of people that fall into these ridiculous diets they think they’re going to get some amazing results in a week or 2 weeks. That’s the appeal. That’s why these companies make so much money selling these quick fixes. That’s not going to happen.
The idea is that you need to look at this from the long term like a lifestyle change is something that’s maybe 3 years, 5 years out. You’re going to go from one type of person to another. You’re going to go from one fat, overweight person to the ideal healthy person that you want to be. You might be transitioning slowly over several years to go from that one stage of your life, that one type of person you are now to this other one, but that’s a lifestyle. You’re going to keep up that lifestyle because you’re adapting to that lifestyle.
It’s not that you’re using a diet to change yourself. It’s that you’re changing your life. Now you’re going to be the kind of person that’s living this kind of life so your physical appearance is going to be related to the type of life that you’re living.
All that is to say that having that bigger perspective is really, really important because when you have the short term perspective the screw ups, the failures, they hit you hard, they really knock you down. If you can’t push through those things, if you can’t mess up and then get up the next day and—don’t try and make for it. If you can’t get up the next day and get back on track then you’re going to have a serious problem.
Let’s take a side path here to talk about another common mistake because I mentioned it here which is trying to make up for it. It’s really bad. I do this myself and I try to make up for things. It ends up putting you in debt. You end up getting in sort of a mental debt where it’s harder to dig yourself out of the hole than it is to just quit so you stop doing that.
What you want to do, it’s okay to try to make up things a little bit, but you don’t want to put this unnecessary pressure on yourself. If you mess up and you blew your diet, don’t try and starve yourself for 2 days to make up for it, to get back where you were. Just go back to what you’re supposed to be doing, what your normal diet is and routine and then in time, in one week’s time that thing will be erased instead of trying to erase it in 1 or 2 days which is going to put unnecessary pressure on you. It’s going to deplete your will power and it’s going to make it more likely that you’re going to fail again. You’re going to have this pattern of failure.
Even in work too, going back to my example of the Pomodoros. Sometimes I’ll try to make up for it. Whenever I do that I really regret it because what ends up happening is I exhaust myself. Let’s say that I did 8 Pomodoros and then I try the next day instead of doing 10 I’m going to do 14 or I’m going to make up for it and then some. The day after that is usually a bad day. I usually don’t hit my 10. I usually don’t even feel like working because I just exhaust myself. I put this mental pressure and burden on me that’s unnecessary. Don’t do that either. Don’t try and make up for things. A little bit is okay, but in general you don’t want to put that extra pressure and burden on yourself. You don’t want to be on this yoyo.
The screw up needs to be an occasional thing. You don’t want to purposely try to screw up. You don’t want to try too hard to not screw up, but at the same time like when that happens, you’re going to roll with the punches and you’re going to go right back into the routine.
What you don’t want to do is get in the cycle of, “Oh, okay. Well, I always screw up and then I starve myself for 2 days, and then I screw up again,” because that’s not a way to live either. Your highs are going to be higher. You lows are going to be lower. You’re just going to end up burning yourself out and exhausting yourself. That’s not really making the lifestyle change that you want to.
You got to look at it from the long term perspective. What are you trying to accomplish here? I’ve been using the weight loss, but let’s shift this around because I know not everyone is trying to lose weight. Not everyone is overweight. You might be trying to gain muscle, for instance. If you’re trying to do that, we’ve talked about this in some of the episodes there that you’re trying to eat a certain number of calorie. You’re trying to eat clean calories, the right types of calories. Get the protein in there and try to hit the gym. Do the lifting that you need to do.
If you mess up there, it’s the same thing that’s going to apply. Get back on track and stick to the program. Over time, things average out. It will end up being relatively flat. As long as you have the ability to get up on the horse, again, after you fall off, then that’s key. That’s how you’re going to succeed.
I'm going to wrap it up here because there’s really not a whole lot more to say on this topic. If I could leave you with a couple of thoughts, it would basically be this. Look, you’re going to screw up. We all do. Don’t try and screw up. Try to not screw up, but don’t devote all your energy to try and be perfect. No one can be perfect. I screw up all the time. Everyone screws up, but here’s the thing. This is the key thing that makes the difference between a champion and a loser and I’ll tell you right now. The champion, he gets knocked down 6 times but gets up 7. The loser gets knocked down once and stays down. That’s the thing.
If you’re going to win in the long run, you might end up losing in the short run. I'm not going to tell you. You’re going to have struggles and it’s not going to be easy. If you’re going to make it in the long run, if you’re going to be a champion instead of a loser, you’re going to keep getting up. You know what? It might take some time. You screw up. You might actually be taking more steps backwards than you do forward for some period of time. Eventually, if you just keep on getting up, if you don’t quit, if you just keep coming at it, you’re going to get there and you’re going to achieve your goals.
This is the thing. This is how you live your life now. You’re not just going to do this diet. You’re going to live your life like this where you’re going to keep getting up. That’s going to be your philosophy in life, is that “I'm going to keep getting up.”
I'm not saying that you’re not going to have to fight a battle of your whole life. You will. I still fight. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, lifting weights and diets, and fitness and running and all this, and I still fight a battle. I still screw up but I'm accustomed to it. I'm ready every single day to fight the battle anew, and I realize that that’s a reality that I do have to fight the battle. This is part of life but that makes it easier.
That’s the thing that I would leave you with. Don’t beat yourself up too much when you screw up. Don’t try to make it up. Just realize you’re going to screw up. It’s okay. Everybody does, but what you do after you screw up, that is more important than not screwing up in the first place.
Well, I hope that this podcast has been helpful to you, this episode. I felt like this was something that I really need to talk about because we all biff it from time to time, myself included. Sometimes you just need a little bit of encouragement to realize that, hey, it’s okay. It’s okay to biff it. It’s all right to mess up, but as long as you’re going to stick with it and keep on fighting the battle then you’re going to make it. You will get there. You cannot make it if you just keep on going. Keep on going. Keep on fighting. Keep on listening to Get Up and Code.
Before I forget, I want to thank our sponsor for this podcast, SignalLeaf. Signalleaf.com is where you can go to create your own podcast, to host your own podcast. They host this podcast for us. Make sure that you check it out and I think by the time this episode comes out, I will actually have another podcast that I'm actually doing with the creator of SignalLeaf, Derick Bailey, a friend of mine and Josh Earl which is called the Entreprogrammer’s Podcast, which is basically, just to give you a quick summary of the podcast, it is the 3 of us just talking about the business ventures that we’re doing, the entrepreneurial type of things. It’s like you are just like a fly in the wall listening to us talk. It’s not really directed towards the audience. We talk very rarely. You’re just hearing our private conversation, basically, about how we’re trying to run our businesses and trying to make a living as entrepreneurs or at least those of us that are—or make siding come us entrepreneurs to be more accurate here.
Check that out. It’s at entreprogrammers.com. I'm not even going to try and spell that, but it’s like entrepreneur but just entreprogrammer.com or entreprogrammers.com. You might check that out and we are hosting that with SignalLeaf, by the way.
Thanks again for listening to the show. Thanks again for 52. This will be 53 episodes. For those of you that have stuck it out for a year, give a shout out on Twitter. Let me know if you’ve been listening since episode 1. Just tweet to @GetUpandCODE and let me know. I'm curious to see how many of you there are out there.
Again, if you have any questions, if you have any ideas for shows, if you have a story, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I always appreciate an iTunes review. It definitely helps other people find the podcast. I want to grow this thing and spread the word now that we’ve been broadcasting for over a year now.
Take care, have a good week. If you get knocked down this week, get back up. See you next time.