I've decided to do 100,000 pushups and 50,000 sit-ups this year -- and in a few ways I have Rob Lowe to blame.

First, Rob stars in the Fox TV series The Grinder. He plays an actor who played a lawyer nicknamed "The Grinder" because he outworked and out-thought and out-hustled the competition. (It's a whimsical, warmhearted, very funny show; here are all the episodes.)

I love the premise of "grinding." Think about it. Anyone can be good with a little effort. Anyone can be really good with a little more effort. But no one can be great -- at anything -- unless they put in an incredible amount of focused effort. There are no shortcuts. There are no overnight successes.

The only people who embrace the 10,000 hours premise are people who are remarkably successful. Scratch the surface of anyone who appears to have a rare gift and you'll find a normal person who has put thousands of hours of effort into developing incredible skills.

Two, I love this passage from his book, Love Life:

'The people I admire the most are those who have the courage, foresight and ability to see themselves with cold-eyed honesty and fundamentally change themselves. Those who, with no guarantees of greater success or happiness, find it in themselves to completely alter the course of their lives to follow what is oftentimes just a small voice telling them that they can do better. That they can be better."

The combination of the two is what all successful people have in common. They withstand temptation. They delay gratification. They overcome their fears in order to do what they need to do. They consistently do what they know makes the biggest difference in their lives.

In short, they grind, working extremely hard to achieve their long-term goals.

Fortunately, the ability to grind can be developed. Mental toughness is like a muscle; the more you exercise it, the stronger you get.

To prove it -- and more importantly, to prove something to myself -- I decided to set a huge goal, one that I'm not particularly passionate about (since passion makes perseverance easier):

In 2016 I will do 100,000 pushups and 50,000 sit-ups.

(In addition to my normal workouts.)

Why? 100,000 pushups is a lot of freaking pushups. It's a huge goal. The distance from zero pushups to 100,000 pushups seems insurmountable. The same is true for sit-ups -- I hate doing sit-ups.

And that's okay. I don't have to do 100,000 pushups all at once; I just have to do 274 a day. I don't have to do 50,000 sit-ups all at once; I just have to do 137 a day.

Those are still big numbers, but they aren't that big. All I have to do is go day by day, one day at a time... and grind it out. As long as I do -- as long as I stick with it -- success is assured.

And you can do the same thing. Pick a business or personal goal you want to accomplish:

  • Want to cold-call 1,000 prospects this year? Great: simply commit to making four calls every business day. 1,000 is a big number... but four is not.
  • Want to add 500 genuine connections to your network this year? Great: simply commit to reaching out to two people every business day. 500 is a big number... but two is not.
  • Want to "walk halfway across America" this year? Great: simply commit to walking 3.8 miles a day. 1,400 miles is a lot of miles... but 3.8 is not. (In fact I almost added that to my list.)

Why is the ability to grind so important? The distance between a dream and the stark reality of the present is a major problem. Setting a huge goal is supposed to be hugely motivating, but comparing your current state to your eventual goal is in fact incredibly de-motivating and demoralizing--and is usually the reason we give up on our goals.

But I won't, because I'm going to take it day by day and grind it out. (And I'll provide periodic updates on my progress.)

You can too. Pick something you want to do, break it down into daily chunks, commit to keeping your head down and grinding out those daily chunks... and one day you'll lift up your head and realize you've accomplished what that once seemed impossible -- even to you.

Quick update: Today (Jan. 1) I did 276 pushups and 140 sit-ups in just over 30 minutes. So the time commitment isn't huge... and in time I'm sure I'll whittle that down.

Published on: Dec 31, 2015
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