I woke up bright and early (and naturally, I might add) at 5:26 this past Saturday morning and I was pleased, kind of, but not thrilled.
The sun was already up and making its way further into the sky. I rolled over hoping to fall back asleep for another hour or two and wake up around 7:30 but I was wide awake. (And, let’s be honest, that’s never what happens anyway. It’s always later than I want it to be when I do that.)
So I rolled back over, grabbed my phone, and proceeded to allow myself to fall down the rabbit hole that is social media and my email inbox for about 90 minutes; then I dragged myself out of bed and went for a jog.
I’ve been on a kick lately of feeling motivated but not actually doing anything about it and even though I planned to eat like shit that day and I wasn’t really planning to track exercise until this week (another story), I made myself go. It was awful – I haven’t run in months and the air quality was pretty bad, but the point is that I did it. I got up and I went and then, later in the day, I took a 3-hour nap but that’s not the point. I started somewhere even though maybe it wasn’t the best place to start or with the greatest of intentions.
Because the first and hardest part is starting. Am I right?
Something has to change.
I’m a big goal setter and while I routinely set goals for myself – sometimes writing them down like I’m supposed to and sometimes not – I just as routinely sabotage my opportunities to work toward and meet said goals.
“Why does this keep happening to me?” I ask myself. And the answer, as much as I wish it wasn’t so simple, is right in front of me:
I am lazy and full of excuses.
I want to lose weight but I will pig out on a huge amount of ice cream in private. I’ve lost weight before – up to 20 pounds – only to gain it back and more by returning old habits and not making an effort to keep up with the new, healthier ones I created earlier.
(And let’s be honest here: My “new habits” weren’t so much habits as they were forcing myself to make better choices about what I was eating and going to the gym or running outside. I do not really enjoy either of those things, so they weren’t really habits as much as they were intentional choices.)
I haven’t taken strides to start a thriving business of some sort, though I have lofty dreams of becoming some kind of at least-marginally known “celebrity” and speaking at gigs about shit I know. And I want to be the boss of my own business; I’m tired of not being the one to call all the shots. I’ve been a leader before and stood in front of small groups to recite my stuff, but I’m nowhere near the level I want to be or envision myself to be.
And why not? Well, frankly, I’m scared of failing or wasting my time. And I’m afraid of the ridicule that comes with being any kind of public figure. And I honestly just don’t know where to start or which direction to move in.
I feel stuck. Stuck in this body and stuck with these continual bad choices. Stuck in this rut of not knowing where to start working and when to churn out content.
Stuck. Stuck. Stuck.
Getting un-stuck is a bitch.
You know all those sayings about “hitting rock bottom”? I think there’s a lot of truth to those.
When you hit your worst, you have nowhere to go but up. In reality, that can be easier said than done. But getting up, dusting yourself off, and starting over is necessary.
Here are the questions I’m currently asking myself:
- How do I get my shit together – really together – and stop falling into past pitfalls like eating an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting, skipping workouts, and working on shit that is not ultimately helping me develop my business?
- How do I track my goals?
- How do I reward myself appropriately for reaching a milestone or punish myself (within reason) for falling off the bandwagon?
- Realistically, what am I capable of? And in what time frame?
- When is it going to hit me that I really want this stuff to happen? (More importantly, do I really want this stuff to happen or am I actually fine sitting in the corner and crying about it?)
I have a lot of questions and few answers. But I do know this: I want to get shit done this time.
I want to get back to my marathon weight from 2012 (see the picture above, taken right before I ran the race).
I want to start a business and watch it grow and evolve.
I want to coach other women who want to work toward their own dreams like I’m doing.
Bottom line: I want to get started.
Getting started is the hardest part of doing anything worth doing.
Read that again: Getting started is the hardest part of doing anything worth doing.
Now, you may disagree and I will admit that this isn’t always entirely true. For example, it’s fun to plan a vacation and getting started may be really exciting for you and you want to start yesterday.
But what I’m actually talking about here are major goals like starting a business, losing weight, saving money, or beginning a project.
Like me, you may have a lot of goals and dreams floating around in your head right now and feel beyond unsure of what to do with them all.
I mean, I want to write about Beyonce and how on that run that morning, I had an epiphany about how I am my own religion and the self-help books You Are a Badass and Big Magic are my religious texts. I want to figure out how to structure this business that I’ve dreamed of starting for a good 3 years now and I can’t decide on the “right” trajectory.
There are so many things I want that I can’t put into half-decent sentences and begin to explain to you.
And like me, fear of some sort may be holding you back from starting something big. I haven’t wanted to get started because I don’t know where to start. I don’t want to waste time but I also don’t want to fail. I’m notoriously hard on myself for things and this is no different.
So how do we do it? How do we just start already?
Here are some things I’ve done in the past and am working on implementing into my schedule today to get my own ass in gear:
1. Write down your goals and put them where you can see them every effing day.
If you can see it, you’ll be more likely to follow through with it. It’s a scientifically verifiable fact.
The more you remind yourself about what it is you’re trying to achieve, you’re going to take the steps to get there.
For me, that means I won’t buy ice cream or order delivery for dinner. I’ll either eat frozen bananas (which are actually delicious, by the way), make some kind of healthy meal or eat fresh fruit or veggies, or go hungry for a few hours.
It means making a step-by-step hierarchal plan for the business I want to build and working on things that are propelling my business forward rather than simply wasting time.
It means making meaningful choices at every level to achieve the goals I have. The same goes for you.
If you want to actually do something, you have to be intentional about it and think about it all the time, dammit.
Whatever it takes to keep reminding yourself of your goal, do it. Overdo it on sticky notes. Change your phone wallpaper and lock screen. Record an alarm of yourself telling yourself to get your arse out of bed.
Go crazy. Be a lunatic and push yourself because there’s another saying that’s just as true: No one is going to do any of this for you.
It starts and ends with ourselves.
2. Find ways to track your progress and celebrate wins.
This can be tough for some because we don’t all like to “watch the progress.” Or, if you’re like me in my weight loss battle, you don’t want to actually see where you’re starting because it’s that embarrassing to admit, even to myself.
However, it’s essential that we keep tabs on where we’ve moved to and how far we’ve come.
I’m a lover of spreadsheets but other people aren’t. I love tracing improvements in myself and those around me but others aren’t “in” to keeping track of all the data.
Regardless of which camp you fall into, tracking your stuff is essential for staying the course. If you don’t, you risk falling back off the wagon and having to start from scratch. Again.
If you lack the creativity or desire to develop your own way to track your goals, check out this article from Lifehack. Some of the suggestions are free while others require paid subscriptions. Whichever route you choose to go, be sure you know you’ll keep it up.
Tracking leads us to the second part of this step, which is celebration.
Celebrating milestones and wins – big and small – is equally as big of a deal. Why? Because when we recognize each win of the process, we gain more momentum and are more likely to keep going.
When you make your goals and begin tracking your progress, don’t forget to reward yourself. Eat ice cream (in moderation). Buy something shiny that makes you happy. Do something that feels like a reward and feel no shame about it. You earned it!
3. Get some serious accountability.
Friends don’t let friends do hard shit on their own. And really, really good friends don’t shy away from pushing us to keep it up when the going gets rough.
Accountability is, hands down, one of the most important things you can do for yourself. If no one is expecting you to do something or going to hold you to what you say you’re going to do, will you do it?
Some of us have great follow-through and some of us (*ahem* like me) don’t… and there’s no shame in that second group. BUT BUT BUT we absolutely must do whatever it is we can to find people we trust who will hold us accountable.
If you don’t have good friends who will give you pep talks when you need them or hold your feet to the fire, so to speak, find some folks that will help you. If you’re paying for a service like Weight Watchers, there’s a built-in community there that you can engage with. Facebook groups are also great places to find a supportive community. If you can’t find one you like, make your own!
Want to put some money on the line? Companies like stickK allow you to set an amount of money you’ll lose if you don’t stick to your goal. You can send that cash to someone you know or to a charity. This is, by far, one of the most popular accountability platforms out there but it’s not the only one. Check out Coach.me for a free habit tracker and community or to find a coach to cheer you on and give you tough feedback when you need to hear it. Not happy with either of these? Google it. There are more communities and platforms like these out there that will help you keep yourself accountable and reach your goals.
4. Don’t quit when you reach the ultimate achievement.
So often, we get to the part where we meet our goal and then, in our head, we’re like, “I did it! I can stop now.”
But no, you can’t!
The moment you stop caring and working toward something is the moment when you set yourself up to fail and slide right back to where you started. (Or, in my case with my weight, past where I started and into a new low.)
For me, this happened when I ran a marathon in 2012. I trained for 5 months and lost 20 pounds in the process. I finished a full marathon in 5 hours, 40 minutes, and 25 seconds. I lost only two toenails a few weeks later compared to a friend who lost all of hers. (Crazy, right?!)
And after I ran that race, I put running and gym time on the back burner. I quit trying to eat well. I was busier, yes, but I was also making no effort to make my new body a priority. In no time at all, I was back where I had been before I started training to run that race.
What I should have done was set goals of maintenance. I should have continued to push myself to run longer distances on weekends, maybe just 5-6 miles instead of, like, 18.
I should have tried to get closer to my high school graduation weight which, the week of my marathon, was just 11 pounds away. (Still can’t believe I didn’t get my shit together and do that.)
I should have continued to surround myself with people who were cheering me on, too, and maintained the accountability I had before.
But you know what? Hindsight is 20/20 and I know what I did wrong all those other times. This time, I’m going to do it right when I reach the finish line of my original goal.
Goals are hard. Sometimes setting them seems like we’re reaching for the stars and there’s no hope of ever achieving them. Sometimes, getting started is the only thing truly holding us back from reaching our dreams. No matter your goals, I know you can find success. Keep pushing! You can do it.
What goals are you working toward right now? Share with me in the comments! Let’s keep each other accountable.