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Do 1 Push-Up - Res 44


The New Year had me thinking a lot about goals, values, ambitions, motivations, life, and how excited I was to wear my new fuzzy socks. With all the talk of “look how far you’ve come in a year” and “can you believe that was only 1 year ago” I found myself even more reflective and nearly bubbling over with blog ideas – two of which involved writing about goals and values.

At my old job, we had a list of working norms – kind of like guiding values – and each day at our morning huddle, we would say what working norm we were focusing on that day. I loved that idea. I mean, obviously, in theory, you were living into every positive attribute every day you walked into the office, but how nice it was to really put your heart and soul behind one guiding value each week.

For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a new series of “Res” posts to my own kind of working norms – my own mini-resolutions. You don’t have to buy into any of these. You don’t have to make your own. But maybe at some point, it’ll make you think about what it would look like to radically change your life one week at a time.

Res 44: Do 1 Push-Up

As most of you know, The Smile Project was an accidental idea. The truth behind the whole movement is a really good car ride. I was happy and I was 17 and I went on Facebook and wrote about it. That’s it. It’s nothing profound. It’s nothing life-changing. But that small act was one that snowballed into a nonprofit organization.

The Smile Project exists because rather than stopping after the original “Happiness is” post on November 9th 2011, I kept posting. I told myself that I would post every single day. The reason The Smile Project is successful isn’t for any other reason than the persistence of showing up.

Three years ago, I ran into some health issues that took me away from every type of sport and exercise that I had known. It was extremely difficult. When I was finally able to push my body back into a routine of exercise, I was excited and, at the same time, nervous. Then one of my friends sent a group text with a 30-day push up challenge.

It started off with fifteen pushups and worked up to 40. Now, even when I was working out consistently and even when I was healthy, pushups were not my strong suit. And the thought of doing 40 seemed a little outrageous. But, because I like easy daily tasks and because 15 sounded manageable, I bought in.

For the next 30 days, I made sure to do my pushups, whether first thing in the morning in my bedroom or – in one case, as I had waited until the last minute – at 11:45 pm at the movie theatre with my roommate. By the time I hit the end of the month, 40 pushups – though still tiring – seemed completely realistic.

From there, I went on to add a squat challenge, an ab challenge, and an arm challenge. With my confidence up from the pushup challenge, I started to run again and found myself being restored to my former levels of exercise capabilities – all because I did 15 pushups on July 1.

Resolution #44: Do 1 Push-Up

Fifteen push-ups is a lot. So just do one. Right now, just do one pushup. One of my favorite psychological tricks is the “just do one” idea. Almost always, you’ll want to keep going. On days when I’m not sure I want to write, I make myself sit with my notebook for five minutes. If I can sit there for five minutes, I can almost certainly sit there for fifteen.

Regardless as to whether your goal involves cleaning your bedroom, working up to a race, or just reading more, break it into small pieces. Set the timer for five minutes. Do one push-up. Who knows, at the end of 30 days you might be a little bit stronger…and at the end of 6 years, you might still be finding reasons to smile.

Love always,


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