Boogie2988 recently did a video talking about “non scale victories” on his YouTube channel that I think is appropriate for many tech professionals and entrepreneurs to take to heart. Long story short he recently had bariatric surgery to shrink his stomach because he was morbidly obese. From the time he started preparing his body for the surgery until recently he was losing an impressive amount of weight every week, until he hit a plateau that he had been warned about. At a certain point even with bariatric surgery the body is able to stabilize weight loss, and he has gone down to losing only 4 pounds over the past 2 weeks. Being that he’s still 439 pounds he was talking about how the slow down in weight loss can be dispiriting if you do not find other metrics to judge his progress. This is where he talks about “non scale” victories.
For him he can see that his clothes are fitting him better even with the slow down in weight loss. Additionally he can now walk better than he could before. It’s still half tragic to hear a 40 some year old needing a walker to get by, but it’s better for him than using the little electric scooters he had to before. He has now gotten to a level where he feels that he and his wife can take the honeymoon they have long delayed, and so overall even though the slow down in weight loss is frustrating he still stays motivated by the other benefits that he sees.
The biggest problem that I see for most people is not that they “fail” rather that they give up. Whether you’re dealing with weight loss, career advancement, or client acquisition you will always hit a plateau. For weight loss it’s the body trying to regulate itself, but in the business world it may be due to economic cycles, or business factors that you have no say in. If you are only focused on the here and now success that you’re having it is easy to become depressed and give up.
I would have you try to think about all of the ways you can have success that may not be the large ways that we normally think of. Even if your career is a bit stuck you can go to Meetups and have coffee with fellow professionals to get a better view of what the current state of the industry is. A list of people that you can reach out to may not have huge value now, but at some point in your career it will. Learn new skills even if you don’t have a way to put them to work. As a sys admin learn Python, or Java to help better your resume. If you’re in school take whatever intern or volunteer opportunities you see. You may not be able to graduate any faster, but you can add value to your resume here and there. The point is that it’s easy to feel stuck.
In 20 years as a tech professional it’s far too easy to focus on the exciting bits. To look at only when things were taking off, or vaporizing. The long months and years plugging along doing tedious work without much to show for it is easily forgotten. What keeps you going during those times is finding hope in the small wins. Grasping for the tiny success. Holding close the minuscule gains.
People by and large don’t fail, they just give up. The scale they judge themselves by barely budges and they give up and eat a chocolate cake. The people that hang on are the ones that can relish every victory. They know that although they only moved the ball forward a millimeter, that in fact the ball moved a millimeter in the right direction. It’s not the distance that always important, many times it’s just the intent and accepting whatever improvement that’s granted.
I talk about things like Boogie2988 video because the same mental challenges he has in losing weight, are the ones we all have with being successful. It’s the same mind games just focused on different targets. I read something once that said there was research done showing that people that made their beds in the morning were more likely to be successful, and healthy. The reason they posited was that people that made their beds had the mindset to accomplish small tasks, stay within routines, and be able to persevere day in and day out. A tiny little thing ends up being the microcosm to your overalls life’s microcosm….