I recently just started a jumping jack challenge with some family members. The goal of the challenge is to start at one jumping jack and each day to add one more. So the first day you do one jumping jack. The second day you complete two jumping jacks. The day after three jumping jacks. The term of the challenge is one year. At the end of one year, the participants will have been doing jumping jacks for 365 days straight with 365 jumping jacks on the final day. As of this writing, we are on day 8 of the challenge. There are some really interesting concepts that are revealed by this challenge. First a couple of quick points.
1. Jumping jacks are not that hard. A jumping jack doesn't require very much athleticism to complete. Which means, most people can at least do some jumping jacks (I recognize there will be exceptions but the majority of people will be able to complete a jumping jack).
2. Jumping jacks do not take much time. A single jumping jack takes about a second to complete.
Concept 1: We often skip out on doing things and the reason is not because they are hard. Most of the time we often attribute our inability to complete a task because it is hard. But since jumping jacks are not hard, there shouldn't be any reason to skip them, especially not in the first 30 days. I can confirm that two of the participants (I was one of them) have already missed at least one day of the first eight days. The question is why? For myself at least, I believe I missed a day because I have not made a habit of doing jumping jacks. Since there were no natural cues to remind me to do the jumping jacks, I simply forgot to do them. The simple remedy, set an alarm. When the alarm does off, get to it.
Concept 2: We rarely practice discipline and hold ourselves accountable to our goals. When I said I wanted to do this jumping jack challenge, the first question I got was why. I do exercise regularly and there are better ways to burn calories than jumping jacks. If there is no purpose, then what is the point. The point is to prove to myself that I can commit to something for a year and complete it. Think about that. If jumping jacks are not hard (at least for the first 90 days or so), then what would ever stop you from saying you will do it and actually completing it. Wouldn't it be meaningful to set and hit a long term goal? How good will we all feel on day 365 (December 9, 2018) knowing that we completed jumping jacks all year long? Discipline, like any other skill, requires practice. When you are disciplined, you can achieve almost any goal you want.
It is surprising that something as meaningless as a jumping jack challenge can reveal how important building good habits and exercising discipline are to success in life. Just goes to show you there are no cheats or shortcuts. Just a little bit of effort and focus and you can have anything you ever wanted. All you have to do is decide to get started and show up everyday.
By the way, myself and the other participant made up the missed day of jumping jacks. We were both thankful we missed day five and not day three hundred.