Personal Olympics

An everyday system, TM, is a simple, commonsense solution to an everyday problem, grounded by a pun or metaphor. Propose/discuss new systems here.
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reinhard
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Personal Olympics

Post by reinhard » Thu Aug 17, 2006 3:46 pm

This is a little subsystem I've been using successfully for a while for various things. The idea is, binary success/failure is great for many things, but for others it makes more sense to have a few more gradations of success. I figured if 3 classes of Olympic medals can spur on athletes to almost superhuman achievements, maybe a similar tiered incentive scheme can also be applied to mundaner stuff. Of couse there are no actual medals involved, just different levels of patting oneself on the back.

It works like this: say you want to be able to do a certain number of pushups. You come up with three, preferably evenly spaced numbers, say 20, 25, 30. The lowest should be a little more than you can currently do, but not too much. It should stretch you a bit, but still be realistic. Next you come up with a time frame. Say, sometime this year. If you can hit your lowest number, you've got the bronze. If the middle, silver, the highest, gold.

These medals are all just imaginary of course, but you'd be surprised at how motivating even an imaginary medal can be. You have the carrot of an attainable goal always in front of you, a great distant goal to appeal to the high stakes achiever in you, and plenty of legitimate opportunity for self congratulation when you hit a tier. Because there is a range of success-points, longer time frames work, in fact I think they work best.

I find binary success/failure (or the "habit traffic light" of success/failure/exempt) works better for daily routines, while bronze/silver/gold works better for more open ended, long term goals.

What have I been using this for? Well, three things I'll admit to here.

1) pushups, believe it or not. I starting doing them as part of my shovelglove 14 minutes a few months ago, and I want to be able to bang out a lot quickly. So I've decided for 2006, my bronze/silver/gold goals will be sets of 40/45/50 reps. I'm at 44 now, bronzed and just 1 away from silver -- and with plenty of 2006 left to go.

2) 2006 savings. I'm not going to give actually amounts here, because for an American revealing his income is worse than revealing his nakedness, but you get the idea. We want a bigger nest egg for when the time comes to move, and bronze/silver/gold gives me a way to quantify "as much as possible" in a somewhat realistic and motivating way. I haven't quite bronzed yet, but I'm close.

3) hebrew language flash cards. I have a deck that I alter every month, and then go through as many times as possible. 3 times is bronze, 4 is silver, 5 is gold. I've bronzed just about every month, and silvered once.

Coming up with good medal points is perhaps the trickiest part. It helps to do some experimenting before setting them. I knew that I could do 3 decks of cards in a month for example. And I did a few weeks of non-olympic pushups before coming up with those numbers. Think of it this way: a real olympic athelte would never go into an olympics without some training, why should you?

What to do if a few months into it you realize your goals are totally unrealistic? Change them. But be careful: you don't need to get a gold every time. Bronze is good. If you gold every time you probably aren't setting your goals high enough.

Reinhard

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gratefuldeb67
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Post by gratefuldeb67 » Thu Aug 17, 2006 4:57 pm

Great ideas Rein!!!
Good luck with all your personal best goals!!!
(cue Olympics theme!!!)

Peace and Love,
8) Deb
There is no Wisdom greater than Kindness

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david
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Post by david » Thu Aug 17, 2006 8:33 pm

You've got my mental wheels turning here, Reinhard.

Olympics theme="Bugler's Dream" originally composed by Leo Arnaud in 1958--it's the one we always hear on TV although it's not the official theme. Often, when something cool happens, I run around the house "singing" this music."

--david

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Post by VanillaGorilla » Fri Aug 18, 2006 8:37 am

Very interesting concept, Reinhard. I like the "medal" idea...I'm always trying to set goals in a fitness related sense and this idea is just one more to add to the arsenal.
Fall down seven times, get up eight.

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david
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Post by david » Fri Aug 18, 2006 3:48 pm

OK, I've decided that my first event is pullups. I've always sucked at pullups and I want to do better. Right now I could probably do three strict pullups in a row on a good day. So, by the end of 2006:

5 pullups=bronze
6 pullups=silver
7 pullups=gold

I currently do pullups every M/W/F night--I think it should be enough training.

--david

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reinhard
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Post by reinhard » Mon Aug 21, 2006 2:06 pm

Excellent! Glad this seems like a useful structure to you guys.

The day after I posted this I hit my silver goal for pushups, and this morning I hit 47. I guess I'll have to start thinking about what to do if you hit gold in your allotted time frame soon...

I've got a good micro goal keeping system that I'll post about in a bit. Sometimes it makes sense to attack problems on two levels of granularity.

Reinhard

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Post by reinhard » Thu Sep 21, 2006 2:55 pm

Just hit gold with pushups (50). Platinum next (55). Then I guess it morphs into "personal rock star" and I try for multi platinum.

Reinhard

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david
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Post by david » Thu Sep 21, 2006 3:28 pm

Way to go, Reinhard!

Being able to do 50 pushups is very manly in a 1950's throwback sort of way!

--david

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gratefuldeb67
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Post by gratefuldeb67 » Thu Sep 21, 2006 4:23 pm

Wow Rein!!!
That's amazing!!!!
Go you!!!! :D

Peace and Love,
8) Deb
There is no Wisdom greater than Kindness

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Post by hlidskjalf » Thu Sep 21, 2006 11:10 pm

http://www.impulseadventure.com/weights/100push.html

Maybe not new to anyone but I used this to check "Do 100 push ups" off my 43things list a bit back.
Burn all, burn everything. Fire is bright and fire is clean.

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reinhard
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Post by reinhard » Tue Sep 26, 2006 1:56 pm

Thanks for the link, hlidskjalf.

For now I'm probably going to just keep banging out vanilla pushups as part of my shovelglove routine. I'm in no rush, and stretching out the progress over as long as possible is motivationally useful. But if I get stuck on too long a plateau I now know where to look next.

Reinhard

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Post by reinhard » Wed Oct 18, 2006 6:39 pm

Hit platinum this morning with pushups (55). Entering rock star mode...

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