Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter. Last month I offered you some very practical information on a variety of subjects. This month I offer a more motivational, psychological message. It’s inspired by my niece, and I’ll tell you why at the end.
I can’t tell you how often I hear people say, “I’d love to get started, I’m just waiting for the perfect time!”
They say this about so many different aspects of their lives. Do you recognize yourself as someone who is always waiting for the “perfect time” to get started on new projects? To learn a new skill? To eat better?
To exercise more? If so, here’s something to think about.
When I get a different job.
When things are less busy.
When I find a workout partner.
When I find the right equipment.
When I feel less awkward in the gym.
When I lose 20 lbs.
When I get the right workout routine.
When my fridge is full of the right foods.
Tomorrow. Next week. Never.
Human beings are always “waiting for the perfect time.” But why? For many, it’s a great distraction and justification. It helps us avoid the real and risky work of doing. Of getting started, of making change.
For others, perfectionism and avoidance serve as strong armor against potential embarrassment, criticism, and failure. “I could ___ but ___” keeps us safe from pain. Unfortunately, it’s also what keeps us from growing, thriving, being who we know we have the potential to be.
That’s why all-or-nothing thinking — If I don’t do this perfectly then it’s awful – rarely gets us “all”. It usually gets us “nothing”.
There is no perfect time. There never will be.
Oh sure, there might be some magic moments where everything comes together, but mostly I think life is made up of the other less magical moments. It’s fun to celebrate those magical moments, but I’d advise against waiting for them before taking action.
Nobody will give us those action taking moments. We must make them happen. This can be frustrating and hard, I know. Everyone else seems to have more time than we do, more money, more motivation, and more information.
However, let me suggest that there is a perfect moment. And it’s always there for you.
The perfect moment is now! Here. Today. The living, breathing moment of time that you have in this precise second.
Because that is all you ever have: right now. There is power in this moment when you just start. It’s a beginning! You don’t have to actually work to get to the next moment.
All you have to do is start. And then, moments will keep moving, as moments do. One moment will stack on top of another and before you know it, you’ll have arrived at your destination.
But I can’t! you say. I can’t get started! That is the problem, you see! No, it’s not. If you can’t get started, you’re just jumping too far ahead. You’re not starting with starting. You are trying to start somewhere in an imaginary middle.
For instance, let’s say you choose to start with reading about nutrition. That can be a good start, if it keeps you moving on to the next moment. But it is not a good start if it keeps you stuck in your chair, clicking through a blur of blogs and charts and plans and testimonials until it’s time for bedtime and you haven’t made a single good nutritional choice today. So maybe starting for you shouldn’t be reading.
It should be something else, like walking to the counter and picking out a fresh piece of fruit and eating it. Or making a shopping list and putting it next to your car keys for tomorrow. Or reading a menu from the restaurant you’re about to visit, and picking out the salad option in advance.
Starting means initiating action. Starting means committing to a choice of some kind or another. This is how you know it is a true start.
Starting is when you lift up one foot and put it in front of the other, not when you stand there debating which road to take or wondering if you should have worn different shoes.
For some folks, starting needs to be an even smaller action. Starting might be just lifting the foot. Or shifting their weight to one leg.
Putting the first foot in front of the second foot might require some help. Which is OK. As long as something is moving, that’s a start.
Sometimes the magical moment is when we push through and embrace resistance. Many people starting out assume that because they feel resistance, they have failed.
That’s because broccoli tastes bitter when they first try it, and accidentally overcook it, and they think they just can’t eat vegetables. But what about spinach? There’s always another option!
That’s because they forget their printed list of exercises on the kitchen table, so they think they can’t work out once they get to the gym. I’ve never seen a gym without some great charts on the walls with exercise descriptions on them.
That’s because their legs ache on the uphill, so they think it means they are not ready to climb that hill. Maybe not, but there’s always a smaller hill!
And that’s just how it feels, sometimes. Starting will often feel like resistance, at least at first. Give it time. Push through. It will switch tracks and feel less like resistance, eventually. Remember: You don’t have to fight the resistance of the entire journey. You just have to push through the resistance of the first few moments.
Get support, if you need to. Everyone needs a boost now and then. We can start, and stay moving, on our own. But it sure helps when someone (like a coach) gives us a push or a pull. Someone else can also call us on our procrastination and perfection. On our information-cruising and waffling back and forth with decision making.
Someone else can snap us out of our all-or-nothing trance with a gentle nudge and reminder. For a while, we can even attach ourselves to this someone or something else. Eventually, we don’t need that extra boost any more. We’re cruising along just fine on our own.
But in the beginning, we had to start.
Here’s what’s important to remember. In the end, if you’re constantly saddled with “waiting for the perfect time,” these tips might help:
• Revise your expectations. Recognize that there is no perfect time and there never will be.
• Carve out time, even if it’s imperfect. Nobody will give that time to you. You’ll need to take it.
• Just start. Find the smallest possible thing you can do right now, in the next 5 minutes, and do it. Now you’ve started!
• Do something, anything. Action is a “vote” in favor of a different, healthier, fitter life. Vote early, vote often.
• You only have to get through this moment. This moment of starting will be the hardest. Luckily, it won’t last long.
• Expect resistance. It’s normal. Push through it. Resistance doesn’t mean this won’t work. It just means you’ve started.
• Get support. Whether it’s a friend or family member, workout buddy, or a coach, find someone to fire up your motivation until you can fly on your own.
If you want some help getting started, let me know.
For most people, getting started is the hardest part. Figuring out what to do first. Overcoming inertia. Taking that first step into the unknown.
After all my many years of coaching and working with clients and students, I know this all too well. And nothing is more fun for me than helping people move from “all or nothing” to “always something”.
Oh yeah, back to my niece who inspired this newsletter. She just had her second baby. She’s not naturally inclined to exercise BUT she gets out for a walk everyday and has signed up for a few different exercise groups to see where she’ll fit in and meet other like-minded young moms. She sends me photos of the lovely walks and I’m so proud of her for making these moments for herself.
Now it’s my turn. After I finish writing this, I’m off for my own walk!! Until next month, make your moments full of Joyinmovement!