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.