Let’s talk today about some important steps to take for our challenge.

The three important steps I’d like you to take over the next few days, if you haven’t yet:

  1. Know your Why.
  2. Make the time.
  3. Put focus on the start.

Let’s look briefly at each of these key steps.

Know Your Why

A lot of times, we launch into something without having a good handle on our deeper reason for doing it. And that’s fine at first, but when things get tough, it’s so easy to just give up without a deeper reason.

What’s your reason for doing this challenge? Because it sounds nice? Because everyone else is doing it so you should too? Because you know you want to get in better shape, but you haven’t given it much thought lately?

Maybe your reason goes deeper, in which case it’s worthwhile to investigate it and keep it front-of-mind.

Some examples of your deeper Why:

Do any of these resonate? Maybe more than one? Do you have another reason?

There are lots of other reasons, of course. Figure out your most powerful reasons, and write them down.

Make the Time

I’ve found that even if you have the best of intentions to form a new habit, you won’t actually do it unless you’ve committed to it at a certain time. And then set reminders.

So here are two small but important actions you can take:

  1. Commit to doing your fun physical activity at a specific time during your day — it can be different activities, but you should have some time set aside. Just 10 minutes max! Will you do it when you wake up, after breakfast, at lunch, when you get home, when?
  2. Set a reminder to go off at the time you plan to do the playful activity. Better yet, have a physical reminder or two (like sticky notes or your running shoes or jumprope) somewhere you definitely won’t miss it when the time comes to do your new habit. Examples: yoga mat next to your bed so you’ll do some sun salutations when you wake up, or your bike helmet in your entryway so you will see it when you go home and then go for a ride. Or a big note next to your kettle or coffeemaker. Don’t let yourself forget!

Just two actions. Do them now!

Put Focus on the Start

Most people fail at their habits — especially ones like exercise and other physical activities — because they put off starting. We procrastinate, and the procrastinate some more. Then we’re not doing the habit at all. So get good at starting the habit, by practicing daily!

Here’s how to start:

  1. Focus on just getting any kind of movement. If you’re going to go for a fun run, just move to get your shoes on. Then put them on, get out the door. Movement begets movement, while inactivity kills the habit. Just close the laptop or phone, and get up. Head toward the place you’re going to start. Any kind of movement is all that matters.
  2. Count it as a success if you just start. You don’t need to do 10 minutes or even 5. Just start. If you get out the door (for example), that’s a win. Once you form the habit of starting, say in a week or so, you can form the habit of continuing for a bit more. Just take the first step.
  3. Close the screens. Laptops, desktop computers, phones, tablets, ebook readers, TVs, video game systems. These devices kill starting. So close them, and go take your first step.
  4. Watch the rationalizations. Sometimes, when you feel like procrastinating, you’ll start to rationalize why it’s OK to not start. Don’t accept these excuses your mind is making up to weasel out of starting. “I don’t feel like it” or “Not doing it this one time won’t hurt” or “You deserve a break” or “I’ll start in a few minutes” don’t cut it. They’re just squirmy excuses. Instead, say, “It won’t hurt to start!” or “I deserve to have fun and play and be active”.

That’s it — just take the first step and start moving, count that as a success, close the screens, don’t let yourself weasel out.

Start today!