Start & Finish
We have all seen the swoosh logo and we connect it to the “just do it” phrase. (By the way that logo was designed for Nike by a 19 year old college student in 1971. You can find that story here.) That phrase, “just do it,” can be just another throw out line, a cliché, just a thing that people say or it can be utilized to truly inspire us. What if we just set our mind to something and set a goal and finished it? What would that be like? How would we feel if we did not dissect, pull apart, analyze and agonize over every decision and just dove in and did it? I know I would feel really great and have felt really great when I did it!
In some of my other posts I have talked about creating new pathways in the brain and creating new habits. When you do something over and over again it becomes part of who you are. You cannot create a new healthy habit by doing something just one time, you need to do it over and over again. That’s what a habit is! A health psychology professor in University College London, Phillipa Lally, researched habits and found that it can take people anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a new habit. That is wide margin. The point is though, that you have to start with day one! You are never going to form a new habit if you don’t start somewhere.
Last year I started training for a marathon and I was very nervous because I started noticing that I was getting into the habit of not finishing my longer runs. I was giving up too early, using whatever excuse I could find to just stop. How was this going to play out if I was training for a very long race? I tried everything on my runs to motivate myself to finish. I tried positive self-talk. I distracted myself. I worked on my breathing, my posture, my cadence and everything else you can think of. I still found myself hitting that place in my brain where I just said “ok stop already” and I just did. So basically, I was learning the art of “just don’t do it.” Ugh! This was incredibly discouraging.
How was I going to turn this all around? I had to get my act together rather quickly. I remember thinking I am never going to do this and I should just give up and cancel this race. Then I reminded myself this was to be a destination race and ALL non-refundable. Oh yes, non-refundable. There’s some motivation. Panic set it. I needed to do something quick!
The best thing I ever did was talk to my running coach, Caren, coach extraordinaire from Mommy Moves. She is about 5 feet nothing but she is a powerhouse and totally scares the hell out of me! I never want to disappoint her and was afraid of even telling her I was not on my game. When I told her what was happening she said 4 simple words to me and they have truly turned my world around and have become a mantra of sorts for me. She said “create pathways that finish.” She was talking about the pathways in my brain and in that moment I realized she was right. I had been reinforcing pathways that stop. I had to create pathways that finished and I had to do this over and over again. I had to “just do it.” Thank you, Caren! Now why didn’t I think of that?
When I got the urge to stop, I just used her words to myself and said “create pathways that finish.” Mind you, it did not make the urge to stop go away. You got that? It didn’t go away. We want quick and easy fixes and I am saying change is not quick and easy, but it can happen. That urge to stop came several times on the earlier runs and I would just say this mantra every time and keep going. Over my training period I noticed the urge to stop decreased; it never completely went away, is still there at times, but now it would only pop up once or twice instead of 10 or more times.
You can do this, too. You can truly change your thinking and your thinking can have an effect on what you do with your body. But first things first, you need to start to be able to finish. The thing to keep in mind is that change isn’t always about making the negative thought or thing go away, but figuring out how to deal with it when it comes up. When we stop thinking about stopping the struggle and start thinking about how to roll with it, our perspective will change in how we deal with the challenges in our lives.
It is so important to listen to the things you are saying to yourself. What things are you saying to yourself that are preventing you from being where you want to be? How can you reframe those things for yourself?