the resolution will not be televised

2008 workout stars

A plain fact about myself is that I am better when I exercise. I feel physically healthier; I am more optimistic; I am more proactive in other domains of my life; and I am more productive at work. Why this is so, and how these different positive consequences are related to one another, is not up for contemplation here. Instead, the issue is that despite all these benefits, I continue to be very easily thwartable in terms of establishing good exercise habits.

Well, I am done bothering around.* Exercising regularly is important to my well-being, and important things are worth drastic measures. So: I am not going to start 2008 with a resolution “to exercise more.” I know, some people can make public resolutions of the “be more X” form and carry them out just fine. Bully for them; antibully for me that I don’t trust that I’m one of them. Likewise, I’m not going to start 2008 with a resolution “to exercise four times a week every week.” Some people can make public resolutions of the “do X every day” for and carry them out–again, good for them, but I want more accountability.

This is what I am going to do. 2008 has 366 days. With this blog post, I hereby commit to exercising on 200 of those days. If I do not do this, then: for every day less than 200 that I exercise, I will give $25 to some entity that I prefer not get any of my money. Exactly which entity will be determined later–perhaps by a poll on this blog–but nothing that would provide consolation comfort as a “good cause.” There will be some weasel room on this if I am seriously injured or hospitalized for something, as to be determined by a fair-minded but stern official arbitrator.

The sheet above will be used to keep track of my progress. There are 200 numbered spots, and each day I work out, I will give myself a gold star. (Yes! A gold star! Lucy made some positive changes in 2007 using virtual gold stars, and as it worked for her, I’m willing to try the old-school counterpart using gold star stickers.)

Yes, $5000 is a lot of money. Having to fork over any significant proportion of that would not just sting. It would hurt. That’s the whole bothering point! I will keep you updated on how this goes.

* BTW, I continue to have modest, although by no means complete, success with my resolution to use “bother” instead of certain profanities.

Author: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

19 thoughts on “the resolution will not be televised”

  1. I guess that for maximum incentive, the entity should be something like the National Rifle Association, or perhaps the 700 Club.


  2. That is an awesome plan. I like the idea of having a single target for the year so you can slack sometimes and still be able to catch up. I will be cheering you on.


  3. Possibly even better yet, the American Astrosociology Association.

    (Re #1, I’d have to think there’s a utilitarian rationale for excluding organizations like the Republican congressional campaign committees.)


  4. Can I get in on this action? I exercised today — my lower abs hurt! Jeremy can pick my $25. He knows what/who I hate. But, unlike Jeremy, I need to know now who/what it will be. that is the incentive. Jeremy?

    I write this with a glass or 3 of wine on board, but let’s make it focus on the family or some pro life organization. I need the motivation.

    And, for anyone playing at home, my distaste for the asa will not motivate me — I don”t care enough — make it real. as my kids say: bring it.


  5. C&S: Bring it, indeed! You should join the fun. I’ll even get you the stars and come up with a suitably repellent use for the money if you fall short. (Also, maybe something where your name will get on a mailing list.)


  6. Sounds great, congrats on the idea! This explains all those gold stars I saw on your counter yesterday.:)

    I think C&S is right that you should choose something soon so you know exactly what you’re up against.


  7. Perhaps shorter term goals and then you give to the least desirable presidential candidate? So every fifty days you (WE) have to exercise 40, or Romney gets money…


  8. Great idea. Maybe you could issue some futures etc. to hedge the (small, if non-existent, in your case) financial risk involved. That way us lazy people could possibly benefit financially for your exercise.


  9. Bob Jones University! Mitt Romney! SPSS! (Read with “Lions, and Tigers, and Bears. . . OH MY!” tune from Wizard of Oz)

    Why not just PayPal Satan himself?


  10. Why does Satan need money? If I’m going to be creating a disincentive by potentially giving away a few thousand dollars, I want to make sure it’s for something that makes a negative difference.


  11. Does it have to make a negative difference in general or just to you? You could buy some wicker furniture for your apartment and some Yankees memorabilia. And a pet bat.


  12. my resolution to use “bother” instead of certain profanities.

    I hadn’t heard of this substitution until I read it in your posts a few months back. But since then, I haven’t been able to hear that Rodgers/Hammerstein song (“Bewitched”) in the same way.

    Good luck on the workouts. Four times a week is a tall order. Miss a day one week, and you have to balance it with five the next.


  13. How about donating to help celebrate W’s legacy by building his presidential library!? I’m sure a $5K donation will get your name on some plaque or brick to express your support! ;-)


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