Derek FeatherstoneEverything is a work in progress

A long streak ends

Derek Featherstone / Published: January 19, 2020

I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong. This time I was.

I have done a minimum of 50 pushups daily for 537 days straight. I’ve done crunches for 530 days in a row. And I’ve done squats 527 days in a row. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve enjoyed the idea of doing them every day, and keeping that streak alive.

I’ve even done pushups, crunches, and squats in multiple airports. In lounges, at the gate, and in open spaces, just to keep the streak alive.

BUT. I’m done with that streak. While it was cool to keep the streak alive, it was also bad for me. I’ve come to the realization that this one metric isn’t the one that matters.

They don’t matter?

Well, sure they matter. They mattered because I was doing nothing before I started on the streak, so getting that streak up and running was important. But I kind of became obsessed with keeping the streak alive.

Which meant a few things:

  • I’d fall asleep early (like 8 or 9pm), and wake up at 1am for some reason, and I’d get up out of bed and do my exercises to make sure that I kept the streak alive. That seems like it maybe wasn’t a good idea? Because then I’d be awake in the middle of the night for a couple of hours before falling asleep again. Super fun!
  • I’d sometimes have twinges of pain, but I’d push through it to keep the streak alive, when what my body likely needed was rest.
  • I justified watching some youtube videos or shows because I was doing exercises at the same time. Instead of being done the exercise in 10 mins, it’d take me 27 minutes.

So while it feels kind of cool to tell people “I’ve done pushups 537 days in a row,” it now kind of feels like I was obsessed with the wrong metric. Number of days in a row doing pushups, crunches, and squats really isn’t a good metric for measuring my physical condition, strength, or endurance.

What next, then?

I’m abandoning that daily regimen of exercise, not because I don’t enjoy the streak. I’m abandoning it because it isn’t the only way to measure my strength or physical fitness.

Instead, I’m going to move to a routine where I aim to do strength training 4 times per week (2 times uppper body and 2 times lower body), and include some cardio, and yoga. The yoga is for mindfulness as well as stretching.

The streak is the wrong metric, and I have the chance to figure out what the right ones are. Maybe it’s more like: “How many pushups in a row can I do at the start of each month?” and “How many unassisted pull-ups can I do at once?” and “How many weeks in a row can I complete my targeted 4 workouts?” and maybe even something to do with the quality of my sleep — I’m sure my brain was subconsciously waking me up to keep my streak alive.

Valuable (business?) lessons

Some good lessons have come from this:

  1. Like my streak, it was easy to get seduced into keeping the streak alive. It was a reasonable metric, but there were other metrics that I didn’t see or consider because I already had my metric, and it was working! The pursuit of a business metric is fine, but you need to keep your eyes and mind open to other metrics that you hadn’t even considered.
  2. Before I started, I didn’t have a health metric at all, so having a streak was better than that, because it was better than nothing. And, DAMN, did that feel good. But I became hyper-focused on that one metric, and didn’t allow myself to stop, even if keepind that streak alive was bad for me. Wow, that sounds like business, doesn’t it?
  3. Habit and routine are clearly something that I enjoyed. Instead of daily, I’m going to focus on a streak that is more like “Number of weeks in a row with 2 upper body workouts, 2 lower body workouts in the week.”

I like to look at things that happen in my fitness world and apply them to business. I’ll be looking for those connections over the coming days, but I’m sure some of them are already apparent to you. Let me know what you see… I’d love to hear them.