End-of-year resolutions and a report from the 4th-grade

I’ve been advocating end-of-year resolutions lately. The New Year’s resolution bandwagon is always too crowded, right? Why not beat the goal-setting rush and finish the year with momentum instead of letting it fizzle in a haze of holiday distraction and carb overload.

So, I was invited to talk with my daughter’s 4th-grade class yesterday morning to discuss their goals for the end of the year. I was delighted by these kids and their genuine interest in coming up with worthwhile personal goals and plans to make them happen.

I told the students this story about Herschel Walker, the greatest college football player ever, and how the habits he developed as a kid transformed his life:

He says that he was an overweight kid who got bullied by others and was just an afterthought on his school team. When he asked his coach how to get better, the coach said, “Do pushups and sit-ups and sprints.” So, Herschel did just that. And then some. 

He loved watching TV, and every time a commercial came on he would do pushups until the show came back on. The next commercials would have him switch to sit-ups. He would do thousands of reps every night, and he would go in his yard and race his sister, who went on to be a track star at UGA. 

And that’s all he did. He didn’t lift weights and work with a trainer. Just pushups, sit-ups, and sprints. Over and over and over. And he became the athlete we now know.

While his goal was to get strong and become a better football player, it was his obsession with his daily push-ups and sit-ups and sprinting habit that made the difference and transformed him into maximizing his physical potential. Even today, at 50+-years-old, Herschel continues to do thousands of push-ups and sit-ups each day.

So, after sharing Herschel’s story with my 10-year-old friends yesterday, we talked about the importance of building habits and routines in order to reach their goals.

I was not expecting these 4th-graders to be so interested in this discussion, but they came strong with a variety of ideas and genuine enthusiasm for accomplishing something meaningful by the end of this year. They were not shy about raising their hands and sharing the goals that got them excited. From learning to play “Here Comes The Sun” on the guitar to a plan to high-five everyone in the school, our conversation yesterday yielded a wide array of December 31 goals.

I told them about Jerry Seinfeld marking out days on a calendar to motivate him to stick to his routine. Their teacher, Ms. Davis, distributed index cards for the kids to write their goals, and she’s giving them each a calendar to track their habits and routines over the next six weeks. Our neighbor let my wife know that her daughter came home yesterday committed to doing push-ups now. And my daughter asked me to load the Habit List app on her device so she could keep track of the habits she wants maintain to reach her goal. So proud.

I promised to come back to visit the class in January so everyone could report back on how it went. Now I’ve got a class full of 4th-graders holding me accountable. Stick with it, man. Finish strong.