Make a deal with yourself: The power of just starting

Amanda was looking for motivation on Facebook. Her post this week read:

I am kind of stuck. I really need to go do my run, but for some reason I feel awful. Trying to get the motivation to get going.

Ah, how many times have we all been there? There’s something you want to do but are held back because you feel crappy or tired or just not in the mood? Come to think of it, how many times in a day do I battle this feeling? Depending upon what’s going on in my life, it can be an hourly battle. But back to Amanda and her desire to do her run. I offered my friend this advice: Make a deal with yourself that you will for five minutes. That’s all you have to do. Just five minutes. Chances are at the end of those five minutes, you’ll feel pretty good and go on for another five minutes. That pattern may very well repeat until the run you planned to do was completed. And if it turns out you only do those five minutes? Well, that’s fantastic. Because five minutes is better than no minutes.

Here is what I have learned: If I’m asking people for motivation, it’s already something I want to do. If I truly didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t. I have evidence in my life of areas where I am a champion avoider. No, if I’m asking for inspiration and motivation, that means it’s something I care about. Consider that for a moment. This is something I want to do even if it seems annoying or painful in the moment. That thought puts the decision to act in a different perspective. Bring it on.

All it takes to unleash the magic is the simple act of starting. I don’t need to run my entire workout. I only need to run the first five minutes, or the first kilometer or the first mile. I don’t need to plow through that entire stack of papers. I only need to deal with the first one. Same with that growing to-do list or the stack of dirty dishes.

The power of the moment lies in embracing what is in front of me. Sure I have big goals, ideas and thoughts and directions that frankly are bit outlandish and scary. To make those big goals real, to feel them and revel in them, I need to look at what I can do in this moment. All those small steps, even if not taken consecutively, add up to one remarkable journey.




6 Comments on “Make a deal with yourself: The power of just starting

  1. As always Amy, I love reading your blog. Today this one struck me as funny because I am in the opposite position. Had to skip my run yesterday due to being quite sick and will miss today. This means I am 20 miles “behind” yet I have to convince myself that it’s OK. I know what I would tell fellow runners so why is it so hard to accept that the same rings true for me?

    • Bee, that’s a great point! I like to look at is as balance. Some days, it’s just as important to rest and “hold yourself back” as it is to start. To me, it’s all about learning my body, what it truly needs, and getting my mind (often unwillingly) to go along!.

  2. Good points. I like to just think that I’ll just chip at it, baby steps.

  3. Thanks so much for this. I really needed it today. My motivation for the past two weeks has been almost nil. However, I know I can go do five minutes worth of exercise tonight. And I will!

  4. Thanks a lot, reading about it just makes me believe that it’s possible, even though I know it is. It just gave me the motivation I needed, so I could stop thinking I was fooling myself into a fantasy.

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