insipiration

Just start.

How do you start to make a change?

I say, "just start". 

The starting is the hardest part. We often overthink everything into freaking ourselves out OR we put it off thinking we will have the time "someday". 

What if someday never comes? (it never does) 

The good news?? We can start today. 

 

We often sit and wait for a change to happen to us. And we fail to see that we need to become that change, we need to ignite it. 

The job will be the job until we change it.

The relationship will be the relationship until we change it.

The physical block of whatever kind will be there until we access the thing inside us that is contributing to it. 

No pill or drink or snack will make life feel better forever. Only we can do that for ourselves.

 

So, why don't we start now, if it's really that easy? For a few reasons. Often, starting to make a new change involves changing something that has become REALLY familiar, even if it's incredibly uncomfortable or not working very well. It takes a lot of energy to turn the Titanic away from even the most unhealthy habits or patterns, even when we know they aren't serving us. The mere thought of changing that and the energy it would require can be intimidating to the point that we never do it.

Sometimes the relationships we are in help keep us where we are. In fact, we KEEP people around even when they aren't who serve us the most, just so that we don't actually have to improve our lives. Or we continue patterns with them even when we know it holds us back in some way. 

How did I take on the process of changing my entire identity? One thing at a time. It happened in many phases over many years. My clothes, my hair, my name, my pronouns, my business focus, my patience, my self-expression, my inner dialogue.

How did I take on the process of improving my health? One day at a time, starting with getting my first job in a health food store in 2001. Maybe it even started back before that, when I bought my first box of couscous in Fresh Fields when I was in high school. Making my own train mix with my first girlfriend when I was 22. Becoming orthorexic, where I obsessed over the sourcing and nutrients of everything I ate, and finding a better balance to actually be able to enjoy ice cream and a hamburger again.

I planted the seeds of who I have become and what I know and do a long time ago. The habits and patterns I practice now happened as a result of me starting one thing at a time, not worrying about how it would all turn out.

I wish I could remember this when I get completely overwhelmed or freaked out at the prospect of writing my book. Instead of thinking of it one story or one chapter at at time, I get instantly overwhelmed by this massive idea of "a book". Yikes!

If you're thinking you want to change your whole damn life, that the whole damn thing isn't working for you, you might feel incredibly uncomfortable and just want everything to feel better NOW. So you try to eat healthy AND exercise 5 times a week AND meditate or pray AND change your job AND stop drinking and smoking, etc. 

Unrealistic. Completely and totally unrealistic. This will almost certainly end with you giving up, quitting and feeling like a huge failure. It's too much at once.

I always recommend people try one thing, one small thing or maybe even two. PIck two goals and hit them and anything extra is bonus. Want to change your job? Great. Start with updating your resume. Apply to three jobs you like. Take a sabbatical and experience NOT WORKING for a few months. Stop eating out all the time and you'll be amazed how much money you can find. That's how I got my client into a new job in four months when he felt stuck there for seven years.

Or how I got my client to leave her 12-year marriage. She ate really well and exercised and slept more and she felt the courage and conviction to take one step at a time. She was out and living in her own apartment within nine months of us working together. 12 years compared to nine months.

What do you want to change or alter? 

Exercise habits?

Nutrition?

Job?

Relationship?

Haircut?

Spiritual practice?

The way you allow yourself to receive help and support even if it means feeling exposed and vulnerable?

Pick one. And pick two things you can do right now.

And just start. 

 

You might find my recent post about starting anything new helpful. It was recently tweeted by the good folks at TEDxSomerville. Did you know I'm a featured speaker? Super cool. You can sign up for updates here: http://tedxsomerville.org/2015/

 

You Could Run a 10K

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  Whether or not you’re a runner, if you really wanted to run a 10K, you could.

I’ll explain.

The other morning, I woke up and noted the distance from my house to the woods.  I had biked there and ran a bit and then biked home about a month ago. That was a step up from driving there and hiking, like I’ve done for the past year or so.

After taking those steps, on this day, I decided I would run there and back. Because I wanted to see if I could do it.

And I did. Clocked it at 6.2 miles. A 10K. I didn’t plan to run a 10K, but I wanted to see if I could run all the way  to the woods and back. The unexpected 10K was a pleasant outcome. (I just remembered and it's super weird but I completed my first 5K around this same time last year).

It was my curiosity and willingness to push myself a little harder that helped me hit this goal. It took a change in my thinking about my personal limits for running, which until this morning was two or three miles. It also was the result of taking smaller, consistent steps and working on those muscles and then finally deciding to up the ante.  That last step was really what did it, though. That "I mean business" mindset. No backing out, no excuses, no doubt, no hesitation--just put the shoes on and run.

In my research for grad school these past two years, I’ve learned a lot about people and change. There is a whole field relegated to change theory—studying who changes and why they do it. The more I read, the more I find I need to read. That’s how research goes, right?

Basically, we are built to seek out change or stagnancy. We all eventually change, life sort of demands it, but each of us chooses how ready, willing and able we are to take it on. The lives we want are within our grasp, and we get to choose whether we get there on turbo charge or cruise control. Or if we even get there at all.

Whether or not you’re a runner, you can run a 10K, or whatever equivalent you want to pick, if you want it badly enough. When presented with a challenge in life, something that demands a change, a lot of people (most, actually) take an attitude that they are who they are and they can't or won’t change—which is sort of like saying they can’t do something, simply because they haven’t, yet. Or they pick easy things, things they know they will excel at, but avoid the harder change that is being presented to them. They tend to surround themselves with people who keep them at the level they want to stay and they claim to be content. Some might say they are just staying comfortable.

Choosing the changes we make has a lot to do with control, or rather the illusion of having control. If we aren’t able to give up control, we back away and we sometimes form resentments and in some cases, feel really angry about the change being presented to us. It usually works best when we are ready, willing and able and freely choosing something. If I had someone pushing me to run a 10K and I didn't want that challenge for myself, I probably would have had a much different result.

Many of us stop just shy of the line or goal we set for ourselves because of limiting beliefs or some deep-seated fear that we may not deserve the reward waiting for us. It's a damn shame and I see it happen all the time. I DO it myself, sometimes.

It is one way to live to wait until we feel completely comfortable before taking a flying leap into a new way of being. But consider that the best changes often happen just outside our control, inches beyond our comfort zone, when we aren't planning it or looking for it. Some of the best growth experiences happen when we just sort of jump in with two feet and give it our ABSOLUTE best without knowing how it will all turn out. Sort of like the way I hung out for the past two years, running somewhere between two and three miles a day. It was a comfort zone for me, something I was doing well. My time was decent, my pace was steady, I was even sprinting at times. But I felt like I could do more.

And that day came when I woke up and was determined to do my best to go harder and finish. To be "all in". And now I know I could run a 10K if I wanted to because I pushed myself.

You must have a 10K of your own rolling around in your brains. You have something you want really badly, in some area of your life, and you want to know if you can achieve it. This can be a relationship, a new business prospect or a personal fitness goal. I think about my friend who just opened her new office space (while having a toddler and taking the leap away from her FT job to start her health coaching business two years ago). She said to me, "it's really that easy, once you realize it. I could really do it, I just had to start and believe I could."

It's both awesome and maybe terrifying to know that you can make it happen, if you are willing to jump in with two feet and commit yourself. You just have to want it and you have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone of control to actually make it happen.

 

So, what's your 10K? What do you want?

What's one thing you're doing today to go harder than you've ever gone before?