What 18,000 crunches taught me about the practice of law

Roughly one year ago I set out to develop a new routine – 50 core exercise repetitions per day (e.g. 50 crunches, bicycle sit-ups, etc.).  This routine took me approximately two minutes per day.  Over the last year, I found myself doing many of these sets at 9:30 pm, right before bed, in a hospital room, next to my newborn daughter’s crib, in hotel rooms in Oregon, Idaho and Washington, at 4am, and at the gym.  All told, over the last 364 days I spent over 12 hours performing over 18,200 crunches.

No, I don’t have a rock solid six pack.  I may never.

What I have is even more rewarding…I have a habit.

I didn’t set out to perform 18,250 sit-ups. I didn’t even set out to develop six pack abs.

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A little over a year ago I read this article about the fallacy of setting goals.  I wanted to see if developing a routine could build a healthy habit. It did.

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I’m well practiced at doing more than 50 core exercises with good form, good breathing and awareness.  I have consciously created a new habit out of shear repetition.  I felt the pride and satisfaction of pushing through fatigue and apathy to maintain momentum. The power of maintaining momentum (Newton’s First Law of Motion) is far greater than striving to reach a goal; I can attest.

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When I think of building good habits in our law firm and training our younger attorneys, I remind them that habits are built atop routine. Repetition. Maintaining momentum.  We develop expertise and confidence through practice, not credentials. I remind our associates (and myself) that practice begets confidence, and confidence begets expertise.  Some say one develops mastery by doing something for 10,000 hours.  Each of those 10,000 hours involved engaged and critical thought, within real-world constraints and set upon an actual fact pattern.

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I have done 18,250 sit-ups, I don’t have a rock solid six pack, but I have a habit.

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