Pardon me my boasting, but in 2019 I did 54,750 push-ups.

75 push-ups in the morning, and another 75 in the evening. Every day of every week of every month. If I had to skip a set due to travel or illness, I made up for it the next day. 75 push-ups twice each day, every day.

That was an increase from 2018, when I was doing 50 push-ups each day, which was an increase from the year before.

Don’t be too impressed, though. Well…OK, you can be a little impressed, but I doubt that any Marine platoon leader would ever consider what I do to be an acceptable push-up. I mean, just look at that lousy form!

Doing my 54,750th push-up of 2019

That being said, I suppose that a lousy push-up is better than no push-up at all. I’m glad that I do what I do, and I’m very glad that I have created the habit that I have created.

Because ultimately that is what is I have done, and that is what is working for me – a habit that I have created for myself. In fact, I have gotten myself to the point where I cannot begin or end my day without doing my 75 push-ups. My routine is not complete until that 75th push-up is done.

As we continue the transition from 2019 to 2020, I have been thinking a lot about habits, and about how the little habits we create for ourselves can help to feed the larger goals we set for ourselves. The more habits we can create, the more goals we can achieve, and the more success we can enjoy.

To be honest, my push-ups did not begin because I was trying to reach a goal of tens of thousands of push-ups in one year, my goal was to just stay healthy. And I created a habit, “a settled or regular tendency or practice” as defined by the Oxford dictionary. That habit I created was a tiny success that helped to serve the larger goal of me staying healthy.

As you think about your professional or personal goals for 2020, think first about creating small, attainable habits can serve those goals. The habits are the stepping stones that help you get to your goal.

For instance, your goal for 2020 may be to lose weight, but weight is not going to be lost just because that is your stated goal. You need to eat healthier and exercise more, but you are not going to do those things just because you have said you will. Create a habit of always having a piece of fruit with breakfast, or a salad for lunch. If you want to exercise more, start with a walk around the block every day after lunch.

Diet Goal: One Piece of Fruit with Breakfast
Eat a Piece of Fruit One Day ➔ Goal Achieved ➔ Eat a Piece of Fruit for Five Days ➔ Feeling Success ➔ Set New Goal

Exercise Goal: One Walk Around the Block at Lunch
Walk One Day After Lunch ➔ Goal Achieved ➔ Walk After Lunch for
Five Days ➔ Feeling Success ➔ Set New Goal

If weight loss is not your goal, maybe professional growth is, and if so, the model still works. You may want to grow at work, increase your network, or change jobs. Those are all great goals, but here too our chances for success increase if we are first able to set small habits, and achieve small goals and successes in pursuit of the larger goal.

Do a little research on LinkedIn or Twitter every day, and try to make one new personal connection a week. John Stepper, author of Working Out Loud, wrote a great blog about how our generosity, empathy and authenticity can help to grow our valuable professional networks.

The wealth of the world’s knowledge is literally at your fingertips. Decide what you want to learn, and then learn it. People are sharing their information and expertise all day every day. If you want to become better and what you do, or if you want to do something else, then do it. Find one thing to read every day. Write down thoughts that resonate with you. Build up your store of knowledge and information, and read and learn more. Before you know it, you will be in a position to share what you know.

I started with a one push-up. Down and then (ever so awkwardly) back up. Then I did more. I did it again the next day, and the day after that. Now I can’t imagine not doing push-ups, and I want to explore more ways that I can exercise, that I can become healthier, and that I can make the Marines proud. Maybe some day.

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