We are conditioned to think in terms of results and goals. We chase an outcome, a reward, a final accomplishment. We say things like I want to run a marathon, or I want to reach the top of that mountain, or I want to lose 80 pounds.
All of these are worthwhile goals, but the gap between where you are and where you want to be can trick you into thinking your dream is impossible. You look at others who have what you have–like an endurance runner who is lean and devoted, covering multiple miles before many people are even out of bed. You might look at yourself and think, “I could never do that.”
You might not be lean. You might not have the discipline to train each day. You may not have the endurance to run a mile let alone a full marathon.
Your conclusion is correct. You can’t run a marathon, but when we reach a conclusion like this, we leave out a very important word: yet.
You can’t run a marathon, yet.
You can’t climb to the top of that mountain, yet.
You haven’t lost 80 pounds, yet.
No one can skip right to the outcome, but when we see a marathon runner, that’s all we see. We see the outcome of a person who started walking daily, and then jogging, and then running farther, and eventually built themselves up to the point where they could run that marathon. But that work is invisible to us. All we do is compare our present self to their outcome.
Reframe your perspective. Once you choose what you want to accomplish, your next step is to determine the absolute easiest starting point, a new behavior so small that failure is almost impossible. We call these microHabits of Health, and they are the secret to sustainable change and sustainable growth.
Once you decide you want to run a marathon someday, trying to run 5 miles the next morning will likely leave you feeling discouraged and as if you have failed. In the worst case, it could even lead to an injury.
Instead, add 500 extra steps to your daily walk. If you feel like doing more, do more, but always do that extra 500. And there is nothing wrong with making that number smaller or larger to match your current reality. As long as you can still do it on your worst day, when you’re feeling the least motivated.
For perspective, 500 steps is less than a quarter of a mile. Parking farther from the door at work or taking the stairs instead of the elevator could be all you need to add this new behavior to your routine.
And that’s a triumph! That’s a reason to celebrate your progress because you have moved closer to your goal and can continue to expand that habit until you reach your ultimate goal. It’s not fast, but it works. Those microHabits of Health give you the tools you need to cover that gap and create the story you desire for yourself.