A journey of a thousand miles begins with...”
Even if it's been a while since you've heard it (which I doubt), I bet you finished that sentence without even thinking about it.
If it's such a universal truth, or well-known saying, or cliché, or whatever, then why is the concept so difficult for some of us? Why do so many of us have these things that we want to do, but that end up in the Should-Pile?
I bet you thought I had an answer to that question. Some sort of evolutionary explanation for why some people end up stuck at the beginning while others seem to be well on their way. Well, I don't. But I do have some tips for taking that single first step we've all heard so much about.
Have a Goal
Maybe this seems like the easy one, but as I've mentioned elsewhere, it's important to talk to yourself in the right way. “I wish I could sing” is not the same as “I'd like to sing a song for my Grandparents at their 40th anniversary party.” “I want to be in better shape” is not the same as “I want to lose 10lbs” or “I want to be able to run a 10k charity race this fall.” One of the reasons we get stuck is that the goal seems too big or too far away. Breaking it down into pieces that are smaller or more clear makes getting started look less daunting.
Don't be Afraid to Fail
When you really get down to it, we fear the unknown. Instead of being afraid of what might happen if you fail, go ahead and accept the fact that you will fail so that you can stop being afraid of it and get started.
That sounds crazy, but check it out: Did you get the first job you applied for? Did you marry the first person you ever dated? Does every recipe you try work out the first time you make it? We fail all the time, and we're fine. In fact, we're usually better for it.
If you can remember to fail without feeling defeated, you can learn from whatever happened and get started again.
Don't Put it Off
I once heard a story of a woman who needed a career change, and was interested in Real Estate. She was discussing this with a friend, and said “I want to get my license, but by the time I do I'll be 44.” Her friend's wise response was “Yeah, but you'll be 44 whether you get your license or not.”
There are things in our lives that can actually prevent us from getting started, and there are things that we use as excuses. Know the difference and be honest with yourself. Starting now doesn't have to mean that your life changes overnight. If there is truly something preventing you from starting in earnest, ask yourself if there are little things you can be doing in the meantime. Laying the groundwork in this way, even it it seems trivial at the time, can make the act of starting seem less scary.
I started this off with a cliché, so let's try another one: “You miss ___% of the shots you don't take.” I bet you've heard that one at least as often, but that doesn't make it any less true. While I can't predict what will happen if you get started towards reaching your goals, I can tell you for sure what will happen if you don't.
Ryan Casselman is a personal trainer, musician, and the founder of Real Trainers. Stay tuned as he finds out what he's going to write about each week or so!