Everyone tells you that to build a new good habit, you should start small. Pick one incremental way to ease into your New Thing, and slowly work up from there. It’s sensible advice, and I’ve never, ever taken it.
That is, until this year. Daunted by the idea of manoeuvring through the New Year’s resolution crowds at the gym in the beginning of the year, I decided to keep my workout goals simple: Every day, I’d do at least five push-ups. Ideally over time I’d do more reps and improve my form (and maybe even throw in some ab work or whatever while I was already down on the mat), but the point was to commit to doing something small every single day.
And it worked. I’ve found myself with improved upper body strength and straighter posture, yes. But also – just as every blog post and magazine article since the beginning of time has promised – the act of committing to something small every day inspired me to want to do more.
Specifically, it gave me the idea to start doing squats while I brush my teeth in the morning. (Again, this is the kind of thing fitness writers have been recommending for as long as there has been self-improvement advice. What can I say, we all come to things at our own pace.) I personally find squats to be particularly tedious and unpleasant on their own, but getting them done while I’m brushing my teeth and listening to the radio provides exactly the right amount of distraction to make the habit tolerable.
And more importantly, doing just a small number of reps every day has paid serious dividends. There are the obvious aesthetic benefits, but maybe more importantly, clambering up the train steps every day feels, well, a lot easier and less like clambering. Frankly, I’m both shocked and delighted by the level of improvement I’ve seen from such minimal daily effort. It’s been a needed reminder that putting even a small amount of work towards a goal is exponentially more productive than deciding that if you can’t do something major, you may as well do nothing at all.
All of which is to say: Consider doing some squats while you brush your teeth tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. Your desk-job-addled body will thank you for it.