I am NOT “Sporty.”  I’ve never watched sports. I’ve never played sports.  And until 3 years ago, I really never exercised.  I just don’t have a competitive spirit.  I am a (proud) NERD. A bonafide,  read-while-walking, nerd.

But I wanted to pick up my daughter. When our story begins, she had a brand new baby brother and a mother with chronic back pain from two hard pregnancies and very little physical strength.  While she was a sweet and kind big sister, it was very hard for her to hear that I could pick him up, but not her. Something had to change.

My husband had been a runner since the day we met and he convinced me that the shortest distance between me and a strong body capable of keeping up with two small kids was running.  I agreed, but had NO idea where to begin.  Looking into solutions, I learned that a Couch-to-5k was one common way.  I downloaded the app for $2, bought some running shoes, and gave it a shot.

Day1 (Alternate 60 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes): HA HA HA!  Turns out I am an athlete!  That wasn’t so hard!

Week 3, Day 1 (Alternate 3 minutes walking with 3 minutes running):  Shit!  No, I’m not!  Three minutes is a LONG TIME to run! This was also the day that I discovered that yoga pants are not running pants.  I ran the entire time with one hand holding up my pants.  Everything else just went ahead and fell down.  AWKWARD.

Week 4, Day 1: RUN FOR 5 MINUTES?  Are you out of your damn mind?

Week 4, Day 2: I swallowed a bug cuz I was huffing and puffing with my mouth open. Today I went running without eating anything (usually I try to shove 6 pistachios in my mouth before heading out the door) and then I swallowed a bout. I guess its true: the bare necessities of life WILL come to you. And then stick in the back of your throat.

Week 5, Day 3 (Run for 20 minutes):  I did week 4 three times to avoid this day. I was so nervous. Finally, I bit the bullet and just did it!  VICTORY!

Week 9, Day 1 (Run for 3 miles): It’s a Miracle!!!

While I credit the Couch-to-5k program with a LOT, what was most striking when I first started running was how much I had to figure out for myself.  The Couch-to-5k had clear expectations and guided me through (with audio reminders) the workouts themselves, but had very little to say about:

  • How to get myself to make the time to run given my total lack of history as an active person
  • When it would be best for me to run, given my schedule and family commitments
  • What shoes to buy give my particular feet
  • What temperature would be just too damn hot for me to run in
  • What temperature would be just too damn cold for me to run in
  • Whether it was ok to run in the rain
  • What to eat before and after running

The list goes on and on.  I was a complete, 100% novice when I began and the only way to get the answer to these questions was to take action and try things out.

Not sure if 20 degrees is too cold? Go run in 20 degrees and find out.

Not sure whether minimalist running shoes are for you? Buy some. Run in them. Find out.

A Solution is Never Enough

Anytime you find a “solution” to your problem, whether its a Couch to 5k to get in shape, Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover for getting out of debt, The Paleo Diet for losing weight or having more energy, the real work begins when you begin it.

Sure you need to save 1000 dollars for Dave Ramsey’s baby step 1-  but how?

Dave suggests selling your belongings- but how?

  • How do you use Ebay?  Is it a ton of work?
  • How do you find packaging materials that don’t cost more than the item?
  • How do you run a yard sale in your town?

Anything that you haven’t done before, requires that you LEARN your way into it.

Ask yourself: What is One Thing that I can do today that takes me closer to my goal/dream?

The best option is something concrete.

  • Put one thing up on Ebay so you can see what it’s like.
  • Go to a staples and see how much packaging materials cost.
  • Call Town Hall to hear how to have a yard sale.

Eventually, you’ll get a little bit of a landscape and begin to see a path from where you are to an intermediate place.  Something like, “Given what I now know about selling on Ebay, I think I could sell about $300 this summer. To do that I’ll need to…”

When something is new, you shouldn’t try to start there and that’s really hard.  

It’s very common for people (especially entrepreneurs) to want to CONTROL their foray into something new.  We want to know that even though something is brand new and we know nothing about it we can predict exactly what it will take to become proficient.  We don’t.

I’ve seen people time and time again make big plans (I’m going to sell $1000 of stuff on Ebay this month!) with almost no knowledge (I’ve never sold anything on Ebay) and then things don’t go according to plan and the person takes this as license to give up.

That’s really sad because for many of these people it took a lot of courage to believe they could make that change in the first place.  Over time they begin to believe that they just can’t do it, but really they just need a different plan that allows them to learn their way into it.

Create Your Own Luck

You can do big things with small changes

I made a lot of rookie mistakes, had a bunch of bad ideas, took a bunch of u-turns and had to get back on the wagon.  Then, last November, I broke through a barrier and did a marathon.

Over the course of 2 years I went from someone who was terrified to run for  20 minutes to someone who successfully (if slowly) ran for 2 hours, 31 minutes and 34 seconds. I got there one day, one choice, one action at a time.

What do you want?

So, what do you really want to do?  Now answer this one question:

What is one thing that I can do today that takes me closer to my goal/dream?

Then do that thing.  TODAY.  Do that for a two weeks and then we’ll reassess.  Sound good?

Leave a comment down below or on Facebook and tell me what you are going to do, then come back and tell me how it went!

About the author

Dr. Amanda Crowell is a cognitive psychologist and business coach who helps accidental entrepreneurs get more clients and have a bigger impact. She is the author of Great Work, the host of the Unleashing Your Great Work podcast, and the creator of the Great Work Journals. Amanda's TEDx talk has received almost two million views and has been featured on TED's Ideas blog and Ted Shorts. Her ideas have also been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, and Thrive Global.