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If It’s Important, Do It Every Day

Another of my heroes

Dan John

A while back I reviewed a wonderful book Dan John has written a wonderful book called Never Let GoNever Let Go is as much a collection of short stories as it is about strength programming.

Nobody I know has more character, strength, or charisma than Dan.  I spent this weekend with him at a kettlebell workshop here in Salt Lake City.  If you haven’t been to one of his workshops, it boils down to this: hours of stories, practice, sweat, and quotes like:

“The goal is to keep the goal the goal”

One day you will thank me…today is not that day.”

This was said while Dan was grinding my back into a deeper squat with his big knobby knee.

I will also add that it is wonderfully strange to go to a strength seminar and wind up playing “spot the literary reference” as a man who has deadlifted upwards of 600 pounds quoting Don Quixote and T.H. White (can you identify the “Never Let Go reference?) while discussing goals and might and heavy lifts. 

Here was my favorite quote from the weekend.  Beautiful stuff:

If it’s important, do it every day

How profound is that?  Now, I want you to take a second and just think about it.  Wow!  Wow!  Can you believe how simple it is?  But take a step back, Dolemite: never confuse simple with simplistic.

To give the quote some context, we were talking about movements everyone’s body should be physically capable of performing.

  • Squatting
  • Lifting something off the ground
  • Walking while carrying a weight
  • Explosive, speedy movements
  • Pushing
  • Pulling

That’s about it.  Those are the movements that our bodies lose when we don’t get enough movement and exercise.  So do them every day.  The movements don’t have to be heavy or eye-poppingly difficult.  They’re just reminders to your body.

If it’s important, do it every day – The non-physical stuff

My own personal addendum to the quote would be this.  “If it’s important (to you and your goals), do it every day.”  We don’t have to be talking about lifting weights or physical strength for the quote to make sense.

Daily practice of anything is how habits–good and bad–are formed.  Here are some things that are important to me that I try to do every day.  These practices contribute to my goals, my emotional and mental state, my personal productivity, and joy for life:

  • Write something
  • Read something
  • Sing a song
  • Play the guitar
  • Hug my wife
  • Play with my toddler
  • Reduce clutter
  • Think of the things I’m grateful for
  • Swing a kettlebell
  • Lift something heavy
  • Call friends on the telephone
  • Not make anyone’s day worse.

I could go on, but these are the things that mean the most to me that I have the most success with.

A while back I reviewed a wonderful book Dan has written a wonderful book called Never Let Go which is as much a collection of short stories as it is about strength programming.

You know what’s important to you.  You know what your goals are, or if you don’t, you know you should get some together.  You know that daily practice makes daily habits, both good and bad.

Make a list of five things that are important to you.  Now do them every day.  This is simple, but not simple-minded.  It is as close to a magic formula or silver bullet as you or me can get.

If you’re comfortable putting it out there , please share what you’re working on in the comments section.  Thank you for visiting today, friend.  It’s always a privilege to write for you.


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  • Brad August 17, 2009, 8:24 am

    This is such a simple premise that it just might work. Five things doesn’t seem like a lot in the grand scheme.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 17, 2009, 9:36 am

      Brad, I was talking about this with a friend who can’t finish writing a book he started. But he writes for 10 minutes in a journal every day. If he spent five of those minutes every day for a year writing his novel, it would be finished sooner than he’d think. I’ve been there. It works.

  • Casey August 17, 2009, 8:43 am

    Whats important to me:
    -Cuddle with my wife (No snickering!)
    -Do my job a little bit better
    -Listen better
    -Go for a walk
    -Push myself a little further than yesterday

    I’ll admit, sometimes not everything on this list gets done, but I guess that’s why I’m a work in progress right?

    I hate to hijack your thread Josh, but I think I’ve got a candidate for best exercise face posted. Looking for some good captions, and would appreciate some help!


    • Josh Hanagarne August 17, 2009, 9:39 am

      Casey, all good things. I’m coming over to give you the perfect caption today.

  • Jim August 17, 2009, 8:43 am

    I wholeheartedly agree, Josh. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne August 17, 2009, 9:38 am

      Jim, thanks, but thank Dan John and whoever he borrowed it from:)

  • Ben Owens August 17, 2009, 10:25 am

    This workshop with Dan was amazing. “If it’s important, do it every day” stuck with me too. It got me thinking about the things I do do every single day and whether or not those things are important to me. Here are some of them:

    Read something
    watch something on tv
    Lift heavy things, and not so heavy things
    Play video games
    Spend time with my wife

    I could go on, but these are the things that I do pretty much every day. There are some very important things, and some junk in there. If it’s junk, get rid of it and put in something really important.

  • Ben Owens August 17, 2009, 10:43 am

    This workshop with Dan was amazing. “If it’s important, do it everyday” stuck with me too. It got me thinking about the things I actually DO do everyday and whether or not I consider those things to be important. Here are a few:

    Read something
    Watch something on TV
    Lift a kettlebell
    Play XBox
    Talk with my wife

    I could go on, but these are things that I do pretty much every single day. Some I consider very important, some are absolute junk…but I enjoy them. I guess the trick is to replace the junk with important things. Not that I will never play Xbox again, just not everyday. Reserve the “everyday” slots only for important stuff.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 17, 2009, 11:17 am

      Ben, I don’t discount things as unimportant just because they might be time wasters. After all, we did save the world (again) from Wesker. A lot of things are important to me because I enjoy them, not because they’re Important with a capital I. I have no idea what’s truly important, but I think it’s a question worth revisiting constantly.

  • Joe D. August 17, 2009, 11:26 am

    Thanks Josh—-
    We should all have a list like this that we adhere to on a daily basis. Don’t have one now, but with this encouragement, will be doing one today…
    Cool stuff!

    • Josh Hanagarne August 17, 2009, 11:31 am

      Joe D. thanks. Can’t wait to hear what makes it onto your list!

  • Casey August 17, 2009, 11:33 am

    In regards to what Ben and Josh were saying, maybe its just as important to have a lis tof things that we try to do a little LESS of everyday? Not that you should cut those things out, but making sure that time wasters don’t over run your life.

    Ceratinly watching less TV, and less time saving the galaxy from Saren. 🙂

  • Al in Vancouver August 17, 2009, 12:45 pm

    Rugged intellectualism. I love it.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 17, 2009, 12:50 pm

      Al, you said it. You can tell how strong Dan is from a block away. But you can also tell how intelligent he is after the first three words are out of his mouth. Better yet, sometimes those words are something like “Lunges are Jane Fonda-y. Don’t do them.”

  • Rob August 17, 2009, 2:34 pm

    Great read Josh, I’ve been following Dan John for years now and he speaks more sense than everyone else in a real down to earth easy to grasp manner. This is a fundamental basic that i need to revisit too.

    Thanks for reminding us


    • Josh Hanagarne August 17, 2009, 3:13 pm

      Rob, thanks for the comment. “down to earth” is the best way to say it, you’re absolutely right. I’m still hunting around for an Inch dumbbell, by the way:)

  • Jon Owens August 17, 2009, 2:38 pm

    I’m with Josh and Ben, the workshop was outstanding. I’d dare say that if you just listened to an audio of what Dan was saying during the two days with absolutely no interest in exercise, kettlebells, or physical training, you would still learn some very good life lessons (chances are, Dan would have piqued your interest and you’d be wanting to start strength training immediately after finishing the audio). I was amazed at Dan’s ability to tie in goals, habits and doing the important things everyday. Made perfect sense.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 17, 2009, 3:12 pm

      Jon, thanks for chiming in. It was great to meet you and your excitement was contagious. One of my favorite things about kettlebells is seeing people’s eyes light up when everything starts firing correctly.

  • Mark August 17, 2009, 4:27 pm

    Being a regular to Dan’s site over at Dave Drapers, I see this all the time. I never want to take the “largeness” of it for granted.

    Very nice seeing you have it on your blog. Reading meaningful blogs is on my 5. Yours happens to be one of the few….

    • Josh Hanagarne August 17, 2009, 4:40 pm

      Mark, I appreciate that, thank you. The last thing I want to do is be one more shrill, useless noise on the web, distracting from the good stuff.

  • Tiffany August 17, 2009, 6:30 pm

    What a great quote. It’s simple and it puts things in perspective. One thing I’m trying to do every day is read my Bible and pray. This is a habit that I’ve found hard to be consistent with over the years.

    Thanks for the nice comment you left at my site. I saw your name and thought “I’ve been visited by the famous!” Your guest posts on problogger have been fantastic. Keep it up!

    • Josh Hanagarne August 17, 2009, 6:41 pm

      Tiffany, you must have meant to type “I’ve been visited by a famous loser!” Thanks for the kind words.

  • Kaushik August 17, 2009, 6:54 pm

    That’s wonderful–it brings it down to the essentials. What is important, what brings joy to me and others–great!

    That’s interesting about the basic movements. I’m wondering how yoga fits with it.

    Simple insight–thanks for sharing!

    • Josh Hanagarne August 17, 2009, 7:41 pm

      Kaushik, I don’t know much about yoga, but the people I know who do it would certainly agree that they need to do it every day for all of the benefit. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Ben Owens August 17, 2009, 8:38 pm

    Josh, I certainly agree that saving the world yet again from Wesker is fun…and maybe even a little important to me. I do think though that games, tv, etc., should take a back seat to other more important things. If that means that I got all the other more important things in for the day and still got to play, then great! If not, well I can still play tomorrow or in a couple of days.

    It still remains to be seen if I will practice what I preach. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is coming out soon…

  • Craig August 17, 2009, 9:55 pm

    I think y’all are onto a lot of good things. About 25 years ago I decided TV wasn’t on my list- and while I’m sure I’ve missed some things (and I watch DVDs and such at times) but what I gained was years with my guitar, books, strength training, walking, riding…narrowing the field is not always a bad thing.

    Now, I happily admit I read a LOT of ‘crap’ -great fun books read for enjoyment, escape, excitement- it’s not time wasted at all! Fun is as critical to me as anything.

    Sounds like another good workshop with Dan, wish I’d been there.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 18, 2009, 7:17 am

      Craig, it was great but you’d also heard 99% of it before. Funny how that didn’t matter to me. I think I could go to the identical workshop once a month. How’s everything going up there?

  • Marla August 17, 2009, 11:51 pm

    Josh, I just happened on your website today. What luck! I’m an instant convert. 🙂

    “If it’s important, do it everyday.” My list would look something like this:
    1. make a mental gratitude list
    2. love on my toddler and husband and cat (order varies depending on the day -haha!)
    3. meditate (on or off the cushion)
    4. stretch or move my body
    5. reach out to someone in least a small way (with what I might write, say or do for them)
    6. smile to myself, for myself
    7. eat healthy food
    8. make the bed 🙂

    Thanks for the fun visit.
    -Marla | @MarlaBeck

    • Josh Hanagarne August 18, 2009, 7:16 am

      Marla, I really like “Smile to myself, for myself.” I think I know just what you mean. Thanks for making the trip over to WSL.

  • Love this exercise – haven’t done it in awhile, so here goes:

    1. Write a blog post every day, even if I don’t publish it immediately
    2. Connect with at least 3 friends, either by phone or email
    3. Work 30 minutes on my book outline
    4. Read for pleasure: 30 minutes a day
    5. Eat one healthy item (cookies do not count).

    I feel like, after reading this list, that I have so much more I want to do that could be better aligned with my goals (classes I want to take, volunteering I’d love to do). I’m going to give this more thought today, Josh. I’ll have to add “think about my life” as #6 🙂 But seriously, this was excellent.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 18, 2009, 7:15 am

      @Laura @TJCC. Book outline? What’s the book going to be?

  • Pete | The Tango Notebook August 18, 2009, 7:42 am


    I’m going to write you a guest post about how I stay in shape while I blog all day. Interested? My routine consists of only a few exercises that are important to me. The entire body is involved and I only wish I could get a rope into my office to climb it here and there 🙂

    Maybe I’ll even change the way you bloggercise 🙂

    The Tango Notebook

    • Josh Hanagarne August 18, 2009, 8:15 am

      Pete, I’d love to take a look at it. Don’t worry, though–you won’t be changing my routine. I routinely interrupt writing to–well, my office is full of kettlebells, sledge hammers, bricks, grippers, and lots of things to tear in half and bend. I would like to have some rope, though. Send that post over and I’ll take a look.

  • NorthandClark August 19, 2009, 7:52 am

    It seems like you have applied the do it every day mantra to your posts too. I have trouble getting something new up every week. Congrats on another fine post.

    Also, I hope you don’t mind me going by NorthandClark, it seems there’s already a Casey in these parts.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 19, 2009, 9:08 am

      NorthandClark. Yeah, so far I haven’t had much trouble getting something posted every day. If the quality starts dropping, I’ll ease up. Not until then, though. Feel free to go by NorthandClark.

  • Ilaria/Swimturtle August 19, 2009, 9:12 pm

    I have been blogging a little under a year and a few months ago I stopped, due to family problems that are now, thankfully, on the way to being resolved.
    As I prepare to resume blogging many things have changed in my attitude toward my blogging practice, and my priorities in life.
    Here are five things that I am resolving to do every day:
    1. Write
    2. Work out
    3. Eat well
    4. Love my kids actively (not just say I love you but do something to improve their experience of growing up)
    5. Read
    And, as a bonus,
    6. Interact with people

    Thanks for the opportunity to focus on what matters.
    Love, as always, and appreciation,

    • Josh Hanagarne August 19, 2009, 9:32 pm

      Ilaria, thanks for the contribution. I love “love actively.” It’s very easy to say you love someone, isn’t it?

  • James Sjostrom September 10, 2009, 11:41 am

    Great Post! You will be excited to learn I made 2 slosh pipes yesterday. Seriously way more difficult to use than I could have imagined. Honestly, it feels like wrestling with a python, My max was 3 overhead squats, and I walked with it for 200 meters.
    My Five are,
    1. Pray
    2. “love Actively” I called it being a good husband, father.
    3. Workout/Nutrition
    4. Help another (preferably a stranger)
    5. Play!

    Thanks again for the great post!

    • Josh Hanagarne September 10, 2009, 12:57 pm

      James, thanks. You’ve got five fantastic things you’re doing. You’ll be happy to know I’ve got a slosh pipe too, but it’s a 10 footer. I was doing walking lunges with it until Dan got all fussy about lunges.

  • Oleg Mokhov October 20, 2009, 9:37 pm

    Hey Josh,

    The most effective way to get better at something important to you is to do it every day.

    No tricks, no sneaky methods. Just good ol’ fashioned repetition. Whether that’s a sport, weightlifting, painting, writing, music, traveling, sex, marketing, relationships… the more you do, the better you’ll get.

    This way, you establish a rock-solid foundation of the basics. You can do it in your sleep. From there, you can build on it, strengthening up each level of skill. Plus, you’ll find your own unique way of doing things, so you become remarkable as well. You couldn’t achieve that if you were just trying to mimic “the top guys” rather than working at it every day to get better.

    Thanks for the great reminder that the best way to get better at something that’s important to you is to simply do it every day. Beautiful simplicity.