Making a life change is tough. Living everyday life can be difficult enough, but changing old habits or starting new ones really goes against the nature of most humans (be comfortable and don’t rock the boat).
By nature, I am terrible at exercising. I know exercising is good for my body and would improve my life expectancy, health, and day-to-day mood but committing to consistent exercise has never been possible for me. I’ve tried running on-and-off, going to a gym with friends, even yoga! Each is helpful for a time but never sticks.
Side story, growing up I never knew people worked out or prepared for physical feats (lay people that is, I knew professional athletes and Olympians practiced, but still not to the extent they actually do). Maybe because exercise wasn’t something practiced in my family beyond everyday play or bike riding. I learned a lesson the hard way when I joined the wrestling team my first year of highschool. At the first day of practice, I had to run five miles and it almost killed me. I was unaccustomed to running distances and never drank water. By the end of the run, I was hurting, and not knowing how to take care of myself during strenuous periods I guzzled a Powerade, with disastrous results. That was the first and last day of my wrestling team experience (embarrassing to say, but true).
Recently, I’ve decided to change tactics. When I start anything new I typically go big, jump in the deep end and expect to succeed without practice and when I fail it hurts. Like saying I’m going to run a mile every day, or design something new every day, or build a cool online product. Accomplishing a feat on a large scale for an extended period of time is very difficult, not just completing the task but the mental battery of completing or failing.
So, I’m starting small. Exercise is not my forte, but what I can commit to is five pushups a day. I’m using the Daily Goals iOS app to help me get started. Daily Goals is a habit tracking app that follows the Don’t Break the Chain productivity technique of marking off calendar days when you complete a task and tracking the number of sequential days you have completed that task. The larger that number the greater the pull to continue and not skip a day. I’m running with several simple habits at the moment but my five pushups a day habit is tallied at an eleven-day streak at the moment, and that feels good!
The other reason I chose a simple daily task like five pushups is to start my day off with a productive moment. I know that five pushups will only take about ten seconds to complete so there is no reason not to drop to the ground and complete when my reminder pops up at 8:45am. Five pushups sounds ridiculously silly, but I know it’s something I can accomplish and is still useful.
My five pushup goal correlates closely with my dreams. I have a lot of ideas that I try to accomplish, but most seem to fizzle out because of the large and difficult scale and because I’m not prepared. My five push-up goal is a daily reminder to start small, start smart and scale as I go. Maybe soon I will add a five sit-up goal!
Just as I can’t expect a rigorous daily exercise regime to stick, I can’t expect my huge dreams to succeed without starting small and working daily.