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Absolutely Fifty Percent

Personal Improvement

There are a lot of guidelines about how often or how much we should do or have of a certain thing. Those are handy, but let’s add some realism to the mix and lower the bar so we can stumble over it.

You know all those things that article after article tells you that you should do but that you probably don’t? They're often a bit unrealistic, if you ask me. And nothing kills habit-building by pushing the goalpost really far away.

So how about a compromise: cut the recommendations in half and absolutely do it … most of the time.

For example, FitBit says that the heart association says that you should walk 10,000 steps per day. That’s fine and everything, and some days I’ll walk plenty more than that, but as a daily goal 10k can go straight in the trash. I'll never keep it up. Setting that goal would be setting myself up for failure and for feeling bad. But if your goal is to absolutely do 5,000 steps per day then that’s actually doable. You can rack that up doing the fridge/bathroom/couch triangle.

(Except on those days when you’re bedridden because you lost the handcuff keys or something, which is the most-of-the-time part of this rule. Sometimes things happen.)

What about more general exercise? I've heard 30 mins of exercise three times per week as a recommendation. How about a 15 minute brisk walk three times per week? A person’s gotta go to the store for Netflix binging supplies, might as well walk a little faster. Easy.

And who knows, once you get outside you might feel inspired and walk to the second closest store that sells Cheetos.

Sleep 8 hours a night? How about absolutely getting 4 every day? Alright, well, that doesn’t work. Mostly because it’s a necessity and not a habit. You can’t fall out of the rhythm of sleeping.

6 servings of fruits and vegetables per day? That’s a lot. I really like noodles. How about 3, and they’re all grapes? Perfect.

Can’t stand flossing? Averaging every other day is fine. The dentist officers are gonna lecture you no matter what you do anyway. (Seriously, would a little positive reinforcement kill ‘em?)

Anyway, you get the point. Cut down those expectations and build habits so easy you aren't stressing yourself out. Then maybe they'll grow into the real thing over time. Or at the very least you have a higher chance of building a habit that gives you some benefits over the long run, instead of a few benefits until you give up.

There is one note to remember, however: you need to be careful not to do this with anything that has non-reversible consequences. Like always wearing a condom, not eating rat poison, or not diving into swimming pools without water in them.

Definitely 100% those.