It's 5:30 am. I'm in a long room with dim orange lights, one wall lined with treadmills and mirrors, the opposite lined with weight racks. The room is split down the middle with rowing machines. Outside the floor-to-ceiling windows is a blustery wind-chill of 39 degrees—a harsh winter morning on the gulf coast in Daphne, Alabama.
I walk to the treadmill with my number on it, ready to run for the next 27 minutes. Then I realize that I walk to the treadmill to switch stations and then put the treadmill pace at a walk for a few minutes while everyone finishes transitioning to the weight floor. And in those first few minutes, my heart rate stays low, my water bottle full, my towel unused.
What if—today—I started right away?
So instead of starting at a walk, I started at a run. While not quite as fast the rest of the time, I kept close to my normal pace. At the end of the session, I was shocked to see how much more distance I had covered than usual. I was able to hit 3 miles, something I had done only once before in over 150 workouts at Orange Theory.
If you just get started, you will frequently surprise yourself at the end by how far you've come.
Conquer that space!
Why does starting right away make a difference?
Between the creation of a goal and the first action step toward it is this space. A space that can grow and grow in size until it's too intimidating to cross. I realized if I didn't let this space balloon, I could cross it without any accumulation of daunting weight that would inevitably gather left alone. It's like milk that is fresh and delicious when enjoyed from a just-poured-glass on the counter, but rancid and untouchable after leaving it out for too long.
The problem is progress is not linear. When setting a goal, it can be easy to think "I will hit this 1st sub-goal within 30 days, the next one after 60 days, and so on until my annual goal is accomplished."
But progress compounds. It's not until you reach a certain stage-gate that you realize you may now have the expertise to compress the timelines of the rest of your plans. Thinking progress is linear pushes you to wait and prevents your rocket ship from ever getting off the ground. After putting in effort that shows no promise initially but finally reaches critical mass, several of your sub-goals could potentially be achieved in a flurry of accomplishment over a short time, contrary to your plan. It's a steam-valve release of outward progress where most of the goals that you've laid the groundwork for are achieved relatively quickly. We can plan all we want, but have to acknowledge that there will be massive twists and turns along the way.
One Inch of Belief
Starting not only gets your rocket ship off the ground, but gives it its best chance at reaching escape velocity. A ship touching the ground can be miles away from a ship one inch off the ground.
That one inch is belief. It takes belief to think that even though the end goal isn't a slam dunk, you have what it takes to learn and adapt on the journey to accomplish it. "Yea, I'm not the best at this now, but I believe I can learn to be great. So I'm stepping in the direction of growth." This is what I’m trying to do with this blog — to slowly get better at writing over time.
That one inch of belief is what launches successful people out of bed in the morning. That even if a shred of progress can be made, they will make it.
And what happens at the end? You'll be shocked at what was actually possible with the time you had.
The first time I ran right away on that treadmill, I didn't know that I would break my personal distance record. But when I closed in on the end of the workout, it became inevitable.
So start right away. Conquer your space. Take your first inch with belief. You may quickly realize you are much more capable than you think.
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Where can you take your first inch with belief? Let me know in the comments below.