Taking It One Step at a Time
Have you ever tried to force yourself to do something you know you need to do? I hear people talk about having the willpower and the discipline to make one more sales call, lose weight, start a new job, write a book, take a walk, talk to a girl or boy you want to go out with, etc. and yet I find the willpower to be an elusive concept. My experience is that willpower fades easily when you want to do anything else besides the thing you are trying to will yourself to do. Discipline works the same way. I am very disciplined right up until when I am not.
For me, commitment and priority seem to be the real key. And it works in that order – commitment first and then priority to fulfill the commitment. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
You see, I can do a ton of things. On a daily basis, I take care of my family, the business, even a neighbor, if needed. The thing I haven’t done well is take care of my health. I’ve struggled with this weight thing most of my adult life. I’ve tried every program, read every book, and lost hundreds of pounds only to find them again on another day. This might sound like a familiar story to you.
About 85 days ago, I decided that one of the challenges related to my weight loss efforts is that I rarely stick with anything long enough to get a sustainable result. In casual conversation, one day a friend of mine talked about my “diet du jour” mindset. It’s true. I find the motivation and willpower to start a new program. It’s easy when it’s new. There’s hope and excitement about getting started. And then…the motivation fades and the willpower gets all used up in the first few days. It’s a vicious cycle that tears away at the discipline it might take to stick to the program even one more day.
With that lack of “stick with it” awareness, I knew I needed to commit to something that was longer than a 10 day this or a 21 day that. I’m also aware that my travel life can wreck routine, which also takes me off track. But my travel life can’t be an excuse.
Giving it 100%
There are plenty of people who travel and don’t suffer from obesity. Out of the blue, I thought about the next 100 days. I can’t say exactly why 100 days came to mind. I think maybe I was thinking of giving “it” 100%. Anyway, I decided one thing I could do whether I’m traveling or not is walk. Humans are designed to walk 5-10 miles a day. I have several tracking devices because, of course, during any one of my “diet du jour” moments I knew I needed to add exercise, so over the years I’ve bought pedometers, smart watches, heart monitors, and anything that would tell me how many steps or calories I’m burning and more. Honestly, if what I knew about diet and exercise mattered even a little bit, I’d be super model thin! Knowledge has not been power for me with this particular situation.
Here’s what I decided. I know it’s going to take more than 100 days to get to a healthy goal weight. It’s going to take at least one year. That knowledge always screws with my willpower and discipline. So, I decided I could make a commitment for 100 days.
It is not scientifically true that it takes only 21 days to build a habit. That’s a gimmick. The science says at about day 66 real habit begins to form. No wonder I couldn’t get locked in and find real lasting results. I committed to walking 10,000 steps 100 days in a row. I made it one day and then missed day two and started over. I walked two days and missed day three. On that day, I joined Jenny Craig. That’s one of the programs I had not tried. It’s working well. On try three, I took that commitment and began to prioritize the walk.
As of this writing, I’m on day 82. I’m very excited about completing this 100 days and committing to 12,000 steps during the next 100 days. It’s been difficult. I was extremely sore for the first three weeks. I had to walk two or three times a day to get all the steps in. That felt miserable. However, once I got past day four, then five… on to seven and for sure at day ten, I did not want to start over. The success of each day “fed” the next day and is supporting the completion of the goal.
Why do I share this?
Why do I share this? There are a couple of reasons. One, I think there are things everyone faces that hold them back. There’s some kind of magic about this 100-day commitment and I am compelled to share it with you. I don’t have the science of anything more than my own experience but I want to encourage you that if you can commit to whatever it is that you know will make you better, happier, richer, calmer, healthier, have more fun… whatever it is and then just go for it, I believe something BIG can happen for you.
It sounds so simple or maybe even trite. But it is BIG. There’s something magic for me about putting one foot in front of the other one day at a time. I have to block about 90 minutes to make sure 10,000 steps happen daily. I prioritize the walk time before I start my day and usually take a short walk at the end of the day.
I listen to music and read by listening to Audible. I’ve read or been read to a ton in the last 82 days. I am able to feed myself spiritually, mentally, and physically. A commitment is baseless without prioritizing it. Giving the steps top priority each day has strengthened my resolve in other areas. Understanding that I can make commitments to myself and keep them has given me a strength I was unaware of. I want you to have that.
Second, I want to say thank you. Many of you have watched this journey on Facebook. I hesitated to post daily but found that it was a super way to hold myself accountable. In our leadership training, we talk a ton about performance management. I believe that I’ve reinforced my own learning of what we teach by checking in each day on Facebook.
Here’s what happens. In our leadership training, we talk about the ABCs of performance management. There’s the A (all the things that happen before you put a team member to work… job description, orientation, on the job training, etc.) It’s like all the reading I’ve done about health and fitness. Then there’s the B (behavior). Your team member does the job. With my walking, the job is to get the 10,000 steps a day. Now the C comes into play. This is the Consequence or reinforcement regarding the behavior. The reinforcement works and I’ve watched that in a BIG way each day and have been surprised and amazed at just how much it impacts my own behavior.
Early on, I posted very late one night… I nearly forgot. It must have been day seven or eight. A close friend reached out and texted me, “Did you get your steps in today?” You see, someone was watching. Someone I cared about. That mattered a lot to me. I quickly posted and haven’t forgotten since then.
I hope you are making the team member correlation. Some might even say that was negative reinforcement. He checked in because I had not completely done my job that day. Although I had completed my steps, I had not posted the results. All the other reinforcement has been incredibly positive. I receive encouragement on a daily basis. Other people have made walking commitments and are posting their results on my page! I love that.
I know this article is longer than we normally post but I believe there is such an important message here. Find something you know you need to or want to do. Identify that thing you know could make a big difference in your life. Make one small commitment. Make it something you know you can do that will move you one step closer. And then do it for 100 days. See what happens. It might take you two or three times like it did me. You might be able to get after it and stay after it from day one.
All I know is that anything we do or want to do must be done one step at a time. When the commitment to take the first step is real, then the priority to follow through is easier than trying to force yourself through willpower and discipline.
I hope you’ll take the time to share your experiences, questions, and thoughts about this newsletter on our blog.