Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Slow and steady wins the race

I don't know if I've ever made a New Year's resolution in my life. They've always rung hollow for me--if I need to improve myself, I don't need to wait for the change of year to start doing it. In that sense, they seem more like a way to postpone self-improvement more than initiate self-improvement (i.e., the fellow who says to himself in mid-November "I really need to take off a few pounds; that'll be my New Year's resolution," then proceeds to gorge himself through two months of holidays before dieting for the first few weeks of the New Year).

Well, this year that changed. I finally found a resolution worth doing. Not for the first time in my life, I'm going to copy my older brother.

Last year, my brother Dave had a great resolution: on January 1 he did a pushup and a situp. On the 2nd, he did two pushups and two situps. And so on. By April, he was doing 100 of each per day. By July, 200 per day. And, of course, on December 31st, he did 365 pushups and 365 situps. And during the course of the year, his physique changed drastically. In September, when he turned 40, his wife gave a toast at his birthday dinner and said that he looked better then than he had in their entire relationship.

So I decided to do it this year. It's a fun resolution because it starts so easy (it felt almost silly when I got down on the floor and did one pushup; but I did it, and I was on my way). Even now, 31 days in, it's a very brief "workout," but it's starting to feel like an honest set of pushups (and crunches).

The sheer numbers involved get staggering. Over the course of the year, I'll do 66,795 pushups (you can figure this out in Excel, or you can use the fun method: 1 + 2 + ... + n = (n + 1) * (n / 2)). I know I'll be breaking them into sets eventually, but for now it's fun to see how long I'll be able to do them in one set.

What's making this even more fun is that a bunch of my friends are joining me: John, Robert, and Nathan from Digipede are doing it, and my old friend Marc. It's great having other people doing it, because we can harangue each other to make sure no one is sliding.

I'll do my 500th pushup and situp of the year tomorrow morning; I'll hit 1,000 on Valentine's Day and 10,000 on May 21st. On my birthday in August I'll do my 26,000th situp. And in the month of December alone I'll do over 10,000. I hope I (and all of my friends) can stick with it. I think the inspiration for me is to see what I can accomplish by dedication, tenacity, and an incremental increase in effort. And the next trick will be to apply those principles to other parts of my life (certainly working at a startup for the last two years feels similar!).