Teaching Habit #2: My 50th Wedding Anniversary

Paul Weinstein / 4th August 2015 / Comment / Book Review

50About two months ago I got a Fitbit Charge HR.  I’ve worn it every day since. My mom thinks I’m nuts (“So you’re tracking your entire life???”), but I think it’s great. It’s helping me achieve my long-term goals.

When I got my Fitbit, I set a goal for myself: exercise a minimum of 30 minutes. Every day.  No excuses.

In order to keep that promise, I established very clear criteria for what “exercise” meant. I’d previously tried all sorts of intense workout regimes (think CrossFit, climbing Mt. Rainier, running a marathon, etc.), but I’d either burn out, hurt myself, or spend months recovering on the couch after the event.

This time needs to be different. So for me, exercise can be a 30-minute run, a game of soccer, yoga, biking to/from work, or a simple walk. The variety certainly helps, but of all the options, the walk is the most important. It’s my out. If I’m sick, tired, or if my get-up-and-go already got-up-and-went, I can still walk for 30 minutes. I mean, come on. Really.

At first my goal was to exercise every day for a month. Done. It’s been 7 weeks. Now my goal is to exercise every day for a year. It’s a BHAG, sure, but worth pursuing. And here’s why:

Almost 10 years ago, while I was completing my MBA, renovating my house, and launching my first (and only) business, I took some time to create a set of long-term BHAG goals for myself.

Here they are:

  1. Learn to fly an airplane
  2. Own property in Hawaii
  3. Live and work in Europe
  4. Celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary

So far, my progress on these goals isn’t all that great. I have taken two flight lessons, one at age 21 and the other at age 41; but at this rate, my next will likely occur after I retire. I’ve been to Hawaii on vacation a few times and fantasized about buying a condo, house, or timeshare, but I’m still a long way from any of these. I’ve done nothing about Europe yet, except to think about how disruptive that would be for my soon-to-be-middle-school-aged daughter’s social development. In the last 10 years, the only goal that I’ve made tangible progress toward is the last one, my 50th anniversary. Thankfully, I’m 34% of the way there.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey identifies Habit #2 as “Begin with the end in mind”. Of all my goals, the most important one is my 50th Anniversary. This is the end (at least one of, mind you) that I have in mind.

A couple of weeks ago, as I returned from one of my early morning runs, a neighbor asked me what I was training for. Previously, I’d answered with “Tough Mudder”, or “the Rock n’ Roll half”, or some other daunting event that was sufficiently difficult as to scare me into exercising so I wouldn’t die trying. This time though, my answer was “My 50th wedding anniversary”. My neighbor chuckled, but I wasn’t kidding. In order for me to achieve this particular goal, my most important, a few things need to happen:

  1. I need to live until I’m 75
  2. I need to maintain a long, healthy and loving relationship with my wife
  3. If I am going to learn to fly, I’d better be good at it (see #1 on this list)

30 minutes a day will help me stay healthy, and is therefore a key habit to develop if I’m going to achieve my long-term goal. In the book, Covey asks, “What is the one thing you could do every day that would make the biggest impact on your life if you started today?” 30 minutes per day was that one thing.

Now, I’m sure I’ll revisit my list of goals at some point (with the exception of that last one), but I know that whatever goals I have for myself, one thing is certain: I want to be around for the long term. And I really want to be healthy so I can enjoy it, too. So I guess that means I’ve got to go on that run this afternoon. Or maybe a walk.

Either way, I’m going.

By Paul Weinstein