|My thoughts exactly|
It seems to me that another way goals can become a double-edged sword and accidentally limit one's efforts is by way of the timeframes we attach to goals. People naturally think of personal goals on a one-year timeframe, but why stop at one year? With my goal of starting to learn a new language, I'm purposefully saying "Take one course," but realistically this is only a starting point for something that will take numerous years before there are really any results. If someone sets a goal for a year, does that mean at the end of the year they should quit on whatever they've started? On the other hand, it is true that breaking things into manageable chunks helps us to accomplish goals, so maybe a timeframe less than one year would be more appropriate.
There really is a thin line between a goal that pushes your limits as intended and one that restricts you to doing less than you are capable of doing. My marathoning goal is mostly a matter of convenience. There are marathons all over the place now, but otherwise there's no good reason to stop at 26 miles. Why not 30? Why not 40? The 26-mile mark is set as the "finish line," but if I set the finish line at 30 miles I could probably make it. The weariness I'll feel as I approach 26 miles probably wouldn't be as bad if I was thinking in terms of going for another 4 miles. If I set the mark at 30, I may not feel the same level of exhaustion until mile 29. Obviously there are limits to this, but it's sometimes difficult to tell when the limits are psychological and self-imposed, and when you've really gone as far as you can go.
At this point you may have set an immediate goal of preventing yourself from gouging your eyes out as an involuntary reaction to this annoying flood of speculation and self-questioning. Let me assist you in achieving that goal by moving on to some less drivel-rich content...
Ever since the great Lenten Challenge of 2011, the need for a new challenge has been floating around on the periphery of my mind. With the current zeal for goal-setting, it seemed that the time had come to formalize that new challenge. It would be like a "special goal," because it would be on the list with the other goals, but it would be labeled as a challenge, which is clearly, substantively different. Unlike the Lenten Challenge, which involved passively giving up something for a certain amount of time, I determined that the new challenge would involve actively engaging in some activity, and that it would occur over a longer period of time. Initially I settled on doing some combination of pushups and situps every day for a year. But this outcome was not very satisfying, partly because it wouldn't be too much of a challenge, and partly because the idea was boring and not creative.
|Maybe with some luck I could achieve this by 2052|
Things have not always been this way for me. When I was in eighth grade I ran track, specifically the 1600, 800, and 4x400, and as part of my routine in practice and at weekly meets I would do some stretching. Hamstrings standing up, hamstrings sitting down, quadriceps, calves, groin, triceps - the whole bit. When standing and stretching my hamstrings, I could put my hands mostly flat on the ground. Not what you would call a contortionist, to be sure, but I wasn't inflexible either. Well, between growing older and gaining more muscle mass, those "glory days" are behind me now, and you could rightly say that I am now well and truly inflexible. I've continued running, and doing at least some basic stretching off and on, but after this morning's run I literally could not lean over to untie my shoes. Not even with a bit of bend in the knees. It is bad, and seems to be getting worse. It probably doesn't help that my job consists of sitting at a desk with my legs bent all day long.
1. When I was in middle school and high school I attended an annual church camp. Although the focus of the camp was obviously different than your more traditional archery/kayaking/hiking-type camps, we did do morning stretches to get everyone moving at the start of the day. The stretches followed a set routine, as dictated by a female voice on a cassette tape from the 70's (or whatever year cassette tapes first existed). At a couple points in the routine the voice would remind us, "No bouncing," and near the end of the routine a musical number kicked in. Eventually the female voice really got going during the head-and-shoulders-knees-and-toes portion of the routine with exclamations of "Reach for the heavens! Praise the Lord!" Anyway, all that to say that much like our stretching routine at camp had some accompaniment, I'll have to give some thought to the possibility of creating a "stretching mix" for Scott. Especially if it could be complete with reminders of "No bouncing!"
2. Back in the days when Americans were less enlightened, we stretched cold. That is, we started any physical activity with stretching. More recent times have led to the belief that you need to warm up your muscles and then stretch. While I have found it to be true that stretching is generally better after warming up a bit, I've also found it to be true that I don't have the time to warm up, then stretch, then do the "body" of my workout. I just do my workout or run, and then maybe stretch when I'm done. This is fine, except I'm not planning to lift weights or run every day for a year, so I need to find some other way of warming up before stretching on those days when I don't run or lift. For some time I've enjoyed jumping rope as a convenient, quick, and worthwhile form of exercise, as there seems to be a lot of bang for your buck with jumping rope. So, along with a "No bouncing!" stretching mix, I'm now in the market for a new jump rope. Which, ironically, is associated with continuous bouncing.
3. A good challenge always involves a t-shirt, so I thought about the possibility of creating a t-shirt to mark those wearing it as Scott participants. However, after considering this more carefully, I realized that a t-shirt reading "I'm doing Scott" may send the wrong message for some parties, including myself. Therefore, Scott swag will be limited to certificates of completion for those participating. Which probably means that I'll make a lone certificate of completion for myself at the end of the year.
Harkening back to some of my first comments in this post about limiting myself with the imposition of a set timeframe, let me just say that the one-year mark will serve as more of a check-in point than a stopping point for this challenge. The goal is to stretch every day for one year, but at the conclusion of one year, if things are going well, there will be no reason to stop. The one year timeframe is just a mental marker to make sure I continue doing it. Because, you know, I want my certificate of completion.
It is also important to note that, due to my aversion to New Year's resolutions, Scott will not begin on January 1st. Rather, it will probably begin some time in early December. Scott will not operate on a strict calendar year, or even a standard fiscal year. It will be one year from whatever date in December ends up getting chosen. And again, at the end of that one year we'll assess the state of affairs and potentially determine that it's time to step it up a notch and move on to bigger and better challenges. I may even be ready for some yoga. But only if I can do it without a block.