The Great Sit-Up Challenge

I like to do many things on a whim. So when I saw this picture on my Facebook newsfeed, I decided to re-post it on my wall, with the text:

“I’ll do 5x worth of sit-ups on however many likes I get in 24 hours. Deadline is Tuesday 8:43am. Bring it on, bitches ;)”

Essentially, it was a challenge: For every Facebook “Like” I got in 24 hours, I’d do 5 sit-ups. I figured the most I’d do was like 200-ish – It was such a lame challenge that I figured no one would give a damn anyway.

But I completely underestimated my friends’ propensity to sabotage: I got 111 Likes, which meant that I had to do a grand total of 555 sit-ups.

Now, you must understand that for all my talk of being sexy, I do not actually have a six-pack of steel abs (even though I like to occasionally delude myself sometimes). In fact, 2 years of sitting my ass on an office chair have consolidated whatever stomach muscles I used to have (fyi for my international friends – all Singaporeans have to serve almost 2 years in the military) into a solid, and slightly wobbly, one-pack on my belly.

But hey, what the heck – I figured this would be a helluva opportunity to get started on getting those muscles back. So I approached it like how I would approach any big project, which was to:

1. Set a goal

The goal had to be tangible, quantifiable, and specific. Some corporate programs would ask you to do it SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) – I’m allergic to corporate jargon, but you can totally adopt it if that floats your boat.

So this was perfect – I had to do 555 sit-ups, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to finish it in a day, (like I said, my one wobbly pack isn’t the most optimized for such punishment) – so I set my target for the end of the week – Sunday, which gave me 6 days to complete it.

2. Be accountable

I posted my deadline on Facebook status for all the world to see: 555 sit-ups by the end of the week. A friend commented: YOUR HONOR IS AT STAKE, YOUR INTEGRITY. DON’T LET YOURSELF DOWN. DO IT.

Talk about pressure.

The most common reason for failure is not following through, which is why accountability is critical. Tell your boss that your performance this year should depend on the success of this project. Pay your friends $5 everytime you don’t meet a deadline. Stake your integrity and honor on something. And be serious about it. Don’t be a pussy.

Yesterday, I attended a gathering of awesome people (termed “Awesome Anonymous” – which is a freakin awesome name btw). We each had our own individual projects we wanted to complete, and we all agreed to hold each other accountable by meeting every month and reporting on how we were doing. Miss your deadline, and risk being ridiculed and buying everyone coffee. Helluva motivation.

3. Break it up into smaller chunks

Any big task can be broken up into smaller, less scary, bite-sized chunks. For mine, it was a matter of 93 sit-ups a day. Even better, when I was up to it, I did more than 93 a day and it totally motivated me to finish ’em even earlier than expected. Focusing on a smaller chunk also makes you less likely to procrastinate or get distracted.

So what does this have to do with hatching a rich life? Well, do you remember a time when you just graduated from college, wanting to change the world, to fulfill your potential, or just to do something superdamnawesome? Yet, somehow along the way, we might have gotten lost, spending most of our time living workday to workday, bar to bar, movie to movie, in a zombie-like state of existence that isn’t very dangerous… or exciting. I suspect most of the awesome things in your change-the-world / be awesome list are probably a little bigger and a little tougher than your average to-do list at your day job. Tackling them could seem a little daunting right now.

But hey, if a lazy ass like me can do 555 sit-ups in a week, I’m pretty sure you can do something awesome too šŸ™‚