It's really easy to quit

I remember when I was in my late teens, although I rode on the bicycle around a lot, I never did anything longer than a few kilometres in one go. I had an old steel mountain bicycle, heavy as hell, but it was enough for me.

Once I decided to visit a friend who lived about 25km away, and decided to bike there. It was one of the worst experiences in my life. I barely managed to do it, having cramped muscles for days after that, also I went back home by train, bicycle with me.

Nowadays, after 15+ years I can successfully ride for 100 and even more kilometres, probably using less energy than ever before. I admit that I have better bike(s) now, but that is not the point. 15 years ago I just gave up on the spot, as soon as it got hard. Quitting was easy, except for the next couple of days when I could barely walk, but the act of quitting seemed pretty liberating. You just run away and don’t look back.

A few months ago I went on a ride alone, and after 2 pretty hard rides in the two days preceding the current ride, my legs were pretty empty in the start. And I had 4 climbs on the route. I almost gave up after the first climb, but then something hit me. The pain you are feeling now, just means that when you go out tomorrow, or the next day, you will be even stronger than you are today.

By putting constant effort, especially when you don’t feel like it, you will gradually improve. I like to measure my cycling performance a lot, because if you can measure something, you can improve it. I’m far from being a pro, and I’m pretty far from competitive racing, excluding one with myself. The bike pulled me out of a really bad place I had put myself into. I’ve lost 40 kilo over 3 years on the bike, and now I’m feeling better than ever.

I’m using a cycling analogy here, because it’s the easiest thing that comes to mind here. But the real story I want to tell you is about yourself. You are the one that quits when it gets hard, I know it, I was the same, quitting when things get tough. Requiring constant and immediate feedback is something people cherish a lot, but the things that give you immediate feedback are mostly bad for you.

What I’m trying to point out here is that you are the only person responsible for your own destiny. If you are willing to go through life as a quitter, giving up as soon as it gets a bit harder than usual, you will become weaker and weaker. By not challenging yourself with new things every day you slowly degrade.

There is a pretty common saying that businesses which are not growing are falling apart. You could be stagnating, but given that everyone else around you is growing, you might as well be in the red, it is mostly the same. And this relates to people really well. Just think about your parents, or grandparents. Some of them know how to use a computer, some are pretty proficient with it, and some can’t even use a microwave.

Back to you, if you are a programmer, there was a time in your life when the only thing you knew how to code was ‘Hello World!’ in some language that you don’t use anymore. Why did you continue through the hardships of learning other languages, patterns, algorithms, just to call it quits today?

I hopefully have a couple of decades left to do something productive, can’t even imagine the language I’ll maybe be writing code in before I choose to retire. I might not even be writing code then, but I’m not afraid of it at all. Life is a constant change, and by accepting it, and going with it, you will find yourself being a better person than you were before.

One person told me a pretty resonating thing, and it stuck in my head. If I didn't challenge myself to do hard things, I would still be stuck doing a shitty job that I did 3 years ago. And it’s true for me too, on different levels. I now have a really great job, more energy and a lot more chance to hopefully get to see and play with my grandchildren in 20+ years. And I don’t really care about what will happen tomorrow, because I know I will deal with it.

P.S.

Exercising is really good for you, and you must start immediately if you want to play with your grand children, even great-grandchildren if you are really lucky. I know people who can’t even go out and play with their own children because they just called it quits on their own health. It’s really sad, but I don’t think they will even live to see their grandchildren. Tech jobs are pretty sedentary ones, and I know how easy it is to stuff yourself with fast food, while working 12+ hour days, getting bigger and bigger. If you are in this situation and don’t know where to start, there is a great book by Joe Kutner called The Healthy Programmer. If you need more help don’t be afraid to contact me. I’ll be glad to help you get on your way to feeling and doing better.