"Make no little plans: they have no magic to stir men’s blood."
I used to work for a guy who loved to use the term BHAG -- Big Hair Audacious Goal. He's an incredibly charismatic person and you couldn't help but want to succeed when you worked with him. He would talk about setting BHAGs in large company meetings and you could feel the buzz when you left those gatherings. You could feel the optimism.
Well, I set a BHAG back in January. It's silly, I know, but I wanted to be able to do 20 pull ups. Yes, twenty pull ups. How many could I do in January when I started? Answer: 2.
I took a measured, researched approach, which got me nearly to the finish line, but it was a comment by a well-informed and well-intentioned stranger that put me over the top.
Let me start at the beginning...
I started feeling my age in the last 2 years or so, getting "older" and feeling like I was slowing down a bit really snuck up on me gradually, but there it was one day. I got up and I just felt "old."
Around this time I had many coworkers my age who were running marathons and working out at the gym 5+ days a week. I read about fitness and asked all of my friends. The surprising fact was that I was not technically too late to do something to better my health. There was hope. Of course, I'd need to do some work in order to get out of the pit I had dug for myself.
I weighed about 15 pounds more than I wanted to, and indeed my doctor informed me that I had gained some weight and that I should lose it.
So I started trying to eat better and trying to get more exercise. I gave up free food at the office, and I started taking the train to work, adding two miles of walking to my day. It started paying off and then the snowball effect kicked in. As I felt better, I was more motivated -- it was a perpetual motion machine.
After a year I had lost 10 lbs and was feeling much better. Then I heard about Fitocracy (www.fitocracy.com) and joined the site (free) and started logging my workouts for points. Three of my friends joined with me (two have since quit) and we enjoyed some friendly competition.
In January I set my own BHAG -- I would do twenty pull ups in one set.
Of course, it's not "I will run a marathon!" or "I do a triathlon!" but for me, for my fitness level and mindset, it was a perfect BHAG. Technically possible if not slightly beyond reach.
I got a pull up bar and someone pointed me to a web site that had a set of steps that claimed to take you from 0 pull ups to 20 in just 6 weeks. Yes, just six short weeks!
Well, the website helped immensely! I got up to 15 pull ups after several months. I did take some time off for vacations/trips, and a few minor injuries along the way. But I was certainly stalled at 15.
Then someone on Fitocracy posted a message to me, saying that I could make it the rest of the way if I would start doing "weighted" pull ups -- attaching additional weight to my body and performing pull ups. I don't know this person, and hadn't really had much contact with him, but he was nice enough to make the suggestion and it made all the difference.
I took 15 pounds of my wife's hand weights and threw them into a backpack and tried to do pull ups. Ugh! That 15 pounds felt more like 50! I could barely do 8 pull ups! But I kept at it until I could do 10 and then when I couldn't do more at 15 pounds, I would take out 5 pounds and do a few more pull ups. Finally, after a couple of weeks of weighted pull ups I felt like I was ready to give 20 a shot.
This morning I got up and walked down the hallway to the pull up bar. I reached up and before I even realized what I had done, I was breezing past 15. I got to 20! Yes, 20. And, yes, around 19 I had to kick my legs a bit to get my chin up over the bar, but I did it. I accomplished my own form of BHAG. Nearly 8 months after deciding to try it, I made it.
So, now it's time to set another BHAG!