One Pushup, One Sit-up, and One Jumping Jack

I heard a story from colleague at work a few weeks ago about a 80-year-old man who was in great physical condition. Do those two go together?

When asked about his secret, he answered that when he was a young man, he set a goal to do only one pushup, sit-up, and jumping jack every day of his life.

Only one? Yes, one. Couldn’t he do more? Of course he could. But that wasn’t his goal. He was going for, shall we say, a lifetime of continuity. And a streak of success.

“. . . By small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.” (Alma 37:6.)

His goal was one. He knew he could achieve it under almost any circumstance. What was to keep him from exceeding his goal after he reached it? Nothing.

Let’s estimate he was 20 years old when he first set his goal. By the time he turned 80, he would have done 21,900 pushups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks, at a minimum. I am sure he did far more.

Wow. Here’s to small and simple things!  🎉

Why I Gave Up My Smartphone

My erstwhile iPhone 5S. Adios.

For several important reasons—to me—I sold my smartphone in May.

First off, the organization I work for was paying the monthly bill (though I owned the phone). I didn’t feel like I was using it according to “company” policy. I was mostly listening to books on Audible or YouTube, texting family and friends, and had more personal calls than “company” calls. It didn’t feel right. That’s the first reason I gave it up.

More importantly, I realized that I was letting my phone captivate my attention to the point that I was preoccupied with it, which felt disrespectful to others. (I wrote about this last fall.)

What really got me to let it go was when I realized it was affecting my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I wasn’t doing anything unsavory with my phone—I was just doing less of the good things I should have been doing, such as having more time to think deeply, talk more soulfully, and pray from the heart, undistracted and uninterrupted.

And it’s working. I’ve gained renewed strength. My connection to God is stronger. And how I need that connection now.  He’s talking to a lot more. Or maybe I am just listening more.

I don’t see this as a permanent thing. I am getting by with a flip phone right now, but I plan to get a another smartphone after my little technology fast.

A smartphone is pretty cool thing to have, but really distracting to me. You may be stronger than I am. If so, awesome. I am not judging anyone else’s use of a smartphone. For right now, I’ve traded my smartphone for a better relationship with myself and a healthier relationship with God. It’s worth it.

P.S. I was able to buy a treadmill just a few days ago for the same amount I sold my phone for. A fair trade. And something I really need. But that’s another story.


14 Powerful Quotes about Goals

“If you’re bored with life, if you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things, you don’t have enough goals.” ―Lou Holtz

“I’ve worked too hard and too long to let anything stand in the way of my goals . . . I will not let myself down.” ―Mia Hamm

“Be unstoppable. Refuse to give up, no matter what. It’s the best skill you can ever learn.” ―Charlotte Eriksson

“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard . . . is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.” ―Shauna Niequist

“An average person with average talent, ambition and education can outstrip the most brilliant genius in our society, if that person has clear, focused goals.” ―Brian Tracy

“You may be the only person left who believes in you, but it’s enough. It takes just one star to pierce a universe of darkness.”  ―Richelle Goodrich

“People do not wander around and then find themselves at the top of Mount Everest.” ―Zig Ziglar

“While intent is the seed of manifestation, action is the water that nourishes the seed. Your actions must reflect your goals in order to achieve true success. . . . Take action! An inch of movement will bring you closer to your goals than a mile of intention.” ―Steve Maraboli

“If you’re not honest about what you want, you’re never going to get anywhere.” ―Sara Winters

“When reaching for the stars, there does not have to be a ‘how’ if there is a big enough ‘why’.” ―Criss Jami

“Don’t judge your creation. Just create it. Banish doubt and fear and step out of your own way if you have to. . . . Do what you were born to do. Only then will you know a remarkable life.”  ―Toni Sorenson

“The hallmark of great dreams is not their possibility but their impossibility, and the fact that it is the very notion of the ‘impossible’ that inspires us to go and accomplish them anyway.” ―Craig D. Lounsbrough

“Although goals are important, having a plan of action is vital to the success of those goals. Having a goal with no plan of action is like wanting to travel to a new destination without having a map.” —Steve Maraboli

“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in you. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.” ―Rabindranath Tagore

You Don’t Know What You Can Accomplish

Last week, we went to a local restaurant as an entire family—all of our kids and grandkids. The restaurant had an arcade, too, and after dinner, we played a few games. My wife and I were playing skee ball. You can score between 1,000 and 10,000 points per shot, depending on where the ball lands.

While we were playing, my four-year-old grandson came along.

“Do you want to try?” I said to him.

Of course he did.

I handed him a ball. Without much thought, he threw it and up the ramp it went, and it landed smack dab in the 10,000 ring! One try, that’s all.

He did not realize what he had done. I was laughing so hard, I could hardly talk for several minutes. When I leaned down and explained what he had accomplished with one shot, my little grandson wore the biggest smile. He was surprised, but also pleased with himself. I was stunned and thrilled for him.

I’ve noticed over the years that we can often accomplish far more than we think we can accomplish.

But, more often than not, we tend to limit ourselves. We believe the negative things we hear and accept them as true. Things we hear as children, teenagers, and even young adults. Things like “You can’t do that. You’re crazy.” Or “Why don’t you pick a different major. What are you going to do with that one?” Or “Why don’t you try something more practical.” We listen to our teachers and leaders and friends and siblings and parents and we find a safe zone where all attempts to stretch beyond our limits are hidden from the view of others. We back into our shell and close it tight.

When you’re four, you haven’t usually absorbed the negativity that floats freely around you. You are innocent and pure and see no reason to not try. But when you are 34 or 44 or 54, you are more and more guarded. You don’t want others to see your weaknesses and you usually do a great job of camouflaging them. You are less and less inclined to try new things. You hide your true self from others, wearing what some call the social mask. You even hide yourself from yourself.

I was like that for most of my adult life. Then certain things came along that have shaken me to the core, things that forced me to believe in myself and to trust God like never before. I am sure the Lord has placed you in similar circumstances. Your strength and your willingness to try new things has grown out of loss and trials and even devastation, from pain so acute we hardly know how we will survive, and from facing those trials with faith.

In the aftermath of trials, we often learn that we can accomplish more than we thought we could, that we can be more than we thought we could be. We are often surprised at what we can do, like my little grandson was.

I believe you have a spark of divinity in you and that that spark can be fanned into a flame. I believe that the Lord is stretching you so that you can know that there is no end to what you can do if you believe in yourself and Him.

There is no reason to be hard on yourself. Yes, evaluate and change and repent when necessary, but don’t beat yourself up. There is every reason to believe in yourself if only you will just be yourself.

I believe in you. I think you can do anything you put your mind to, “for with God, nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).