This year, for the first time I can remember, I kept my New Year's Resolution. I did it by not having one. Intrigued? Read on!
This year, instead of a resolution, I made a goal. I had only stumbled on this, but I suppose it should be apparent: a resolution is something you can only fail at, whereas a goal is something you can work towards. Consider how a typical New Year's resolution: say you decide to not eat candy this year. Every day you can only screw up by eating candy. By day four, you have a hard afternoon at work, and fall into the arms of a nougat center, and you are done. Turning this into a goal, on the other hand, you might make it into something positive, like having the goal of "eating healthily" 348 days of the year. (Best to leave some wiggle room, as perfect is the enemy of good.) Every day you can struggle towards this goal, with each healthy day another tick on your calendar.
Some time last summer, baby mama and I were talking with our oldest son, then five years old, about physical fitness. She mentioned the push up, touted as "the ideal form of exercise." I was asked to give a demo. I was surprised and embarrassed to find I could do no more than five pushups.
This being my middle age, I started in to doing pushups the next day. I could only do five, so I did sets of five. That first day I did 10 sets. I continued. By the third day I had all kinds of pains. After about 8 weeks I could do sets of 20. When December 31 rolled around, I decided to set a goal. 40 thousand pushups in one year, an average of around 110 a day. I started out the gate with sets of 25, way ahead of my target, typically doing 250 a day. I finished yesterday, five months ahead of schedule, an average of around 190 a day. I did pushups in the morning, pushups in my office, pushups with my kids on my back, pushups in the park, pushups in the dark, pushups in the bathroom before taking a shower.
I am not one of those quantified self people, and I am painfully ill-read on the topic of fitness, life-hacking, and so on. Honestly, I just stumbled on the idea of a goal, this was not premeditated or well-informed. Somehow I got lucky. As a form of exercise, I do recommend pushups: there is no equipment required, you can easily get to the point where you do 100 a day taking up no more than 10 minutes of your time. Most people cannot get to their local gym in 10 minutes. You have the time to do this. If you start now, you will feel better in just a few weeks.
I used the GoalTracker app on Android to keep count. It keeps count for me: I enter my tally at day end, and it adds them up, showing percent completion. That's all I need. Probably a fancier app could compute daily averages. The bigger problem was forgetting the tally mid-day. I almost always do sets of 25 now, keeping a count of the sets. I used to always do three sets before I left the house in the morning, enter the provisional tally, then pick up again at night. Now that I have an office, I try to do four or five sets a day with the door closed in the late afternoon. It is far more effective than coffee.
I have no idea what to do now. Work on my form, or add pullups (the equipment required is a bummer), or something else. I feel that having a long range goal like this is good, but one year is too long to fine tune behavior. For my next goal, I think I will set a three month horizon. I am fine with a longer term goal as long as I can clearly work towards it on a regular basis. This was another reason I think I finished--all I ever had to do was one more pushup.