How a Small Change Changes YOU
The Grammy Awards are this Sunday night. I’m at an age where I thoroughly enjoy about half the performers, while the other half cause me to look at my husband and ask, “Who is that??” (Also, things like “What are they wearing?” and “What the heck are they saying?”)
Fortunately, the performers I like are usually family-friendly enough that the whole family can watch together. Even if we record it and watch it later, making good use of the fast forward feature!
Sometimes when I see a great performer on stage in a live setting like a concert or the Grammy awards I wonder, how do they do it? Not just “How do they sing so well?” but also “How do they not get nervous?” and “How do they appear to do what they do so effortlessly?”
Are some people just “born with it”?
I don’t think so.
Are some people born with innate talents and interests? Yes, of course. But no one is born ready to perform flawlessly, live on stage in front of millions of people.
Sometimes when we see or hear of someone accomplishing something impressive, we think “I could never do that”. When it comes to our health this could be an athletic feat, a new daily schedule, a change in our diet or a certain amount of weight lost.
Have you ever thought anything like this?
“I could never workout at 6 am/regularly/after work.”
“I could never go vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free.”
“I could never do a triathlon/cross-fit/hot yoga.”
“I could never lose 10/20/50 pounds and keep it off.”
“I could never do very many pull ups/push-ups/burpees.”
Every time we think this way, we put limits on ourselves without even testing them to see if they are really true! If we did, often I think we’d find we can do far more than we expect.
But there are certain ways of testing our limits that are more successful than others.
One limit I placed on myself for decades was “I’m not a runner”.
I’ve even been known to say, “I only run if someone is chasing me”, and then laugh because even I knew it sounded silly.
It didn’t feel like a limitation because I’ve always loved walking. Proof: I wrote a poem about walking in third grade that included the line “Walk, don’t run, walking is fun!”
Every place I’ve ever lived, I have walked regularly. I’d sometimes walk 50 blocks home from work when I lived in NYC. My friend Susie and I walked three or four days a week for an hour or more when I lived in LA. I pushed a stroller on long walks with my friend Heather after each of my girls were born here in Pennsylvania. I’ve even walked a couple half marathons at a respectable twelve and half minutes per mile pace.
I have always been a walker. And I’ve always said I wasn’t a runner.
Then this past summer I went on a walk by myself. There’s a 3-mile loop I walk sometimes when I miss a morning workout or just need some air and time to think. I was almost two miles into it when I felt impatient to get home. I wondered, could I run the last mile?
I decided to try it and just see if I could. No particular pace, no goal other than to run until I arrived at my own driveway.
To my surprise, I did it. I came home excited and told my husband, who is, in fact, “a runner” that I ran a mile! It was probably the first time in over two decades I’d run a mile non-stop.
But the craziest thing was that I enjoyed it.
So, a couple days later I tried it again and then a couple days after that I decided to try two miles, and then three. As the weeks passed, I increased to four miles and then five.
Then did I sign up for a marathon and qualify for Boston?
Not even close!
To this day, I haven’t run more than 5 miles at one time. Once the busy school year started and the weather got cooler, in fact, I stopped going outside to run and felt happy to stick to my usual Pilates, barre and yoga rotation.
But here is what I discovered:
1) I can run.
2) I can “be a runner” if I want to -- and define that in a way that works for me (no requirement for a certain pace or length of run).
3) My belief that I could “never” run a half marathon has been replaced with the belief that I think I could, if I want to. (We shall see!)
4) A limiting belief I’d placed on myself has been removed.
5) I like to run!
If, on that first day, I had asked myself to run five 10-minute miles non-stop, I would have failed, and I would have hated it. I certainly wouldn’t have tried to run again any time soon. I would still consider myself “not a runner”.
That first small step to run a (slow) mile changed me.
It changed me into someone who thought she could run two miles.
And running two miles changed me…
I was able to run five miles because each time I ran a little further changed how I conceived of myself and my abilities. It changed me.
You don’t have to live with your limiting beliefs
-- or let them define you.
If you remove the pressures of certain results, you can break through those limits, one step at a time.
The first step is to get curious about your own self-imposed limits. The next is to create a small challenge for yourself and go for it.
Success builds confidence, especially when it requires you to step outside of your comfort zone, but it works even if that step is tiny.
So, now it’s your turn. Get curious about your abilities. What’s one small step you could take toward a health-related goal you have in mind? Remember you don’t have to believe you can achieve the ultimate goal, you just have to be willing to take one first small step.
Tell me below and then schedule a time to do it! Remember: writing down your goals makes it more likely you'll achieve them. (Plus, I like to hear from you so I don’t feel that I am just here talking to myself!)