How many times have you opened your computer only to find five different tabs open with article headlines like, “Five Simple Ways to Get What You Want” or “Do These Two Moves and Eat These Three Things to Look Like [insert celebrity here]”?
It’s okay, this is a safe space. It happens. Plus I’m fairly certain I’ve never not opened an article that says “Here’s What Happened When I did X or cut out Y for 30 days” (I mean, I must know what happened!). I think what I love about those 30 day articles is seeing the impact that one simple action can make.
During a recent conversation with my fabulous professional development girl squad I begun to reflect on how easy it is to get stuck in an unending list of things you “need” to do and “want” to do, while never making the time to actually do them. Take a class. Get a new job. Go to the gym. Call your family more. The list goes on and on and on. Over time inertia takes hold and it becomes easier to not do anything than to try and tackle the things you desperately want to do, when you also have never ending list of things you need to do.
This is exactly where I was last summer.
After three years of a rotating door of challenges and changes I decided I deserved some time “off”. While this was a great, and very necessary decision, my time off quickly turned into putting things off – taking courses, working on professional and personal goals as well as getting back to living a healthier lifestyle. And I was feeling it. I was unhappy. I felt stuck. Even worse? I felt guilty about my unhappiness – things had finally settled, I had a great job, an amazing support system and even more time to pursue a work-life balance. Nothing was wrong, yet I couldn’t find a way forward.
After a short trip away and finally having enough of the staring contest I’d been having with my closet I made one simple decision that would completely change the course of the following year. I decided to get back to a workout I had tried and loved (looking at you CrossFit). Admittedly, it started out in vain – I wasn’t happy with my body and I wanted to change that. A month in it turned into the first of many self-issued challenges: by my 30th birthday, approximately 11 months later, I wanted to be able to do ten strict push-ups.
I have never been able to do 10 strict push-ups, even with years of dance and gymnastics training. However, this challenge came after a class where I was the last person to finish the workout by several minutes because it was push-ups. Even though they were “scaled” (push-ups on your knees), by the end I needed to take a break after just 1 or 2.
The first person I told about this challenge is one of the most inspiring and fit people I’ve ever met – this woman crushed her workout and then cheered on the entire class as we grunted our way through. She enthusiastically responded with, “oh you’re totally going to get that, and it will be WAY before next summer.” Her confidence in my abilities stayed with me and motived me to keep working. Ultimately, she was right. On February 8th after spending a month doing strict push-ups every day (I was up to 4-5 at that point), I hit my goal, 5.5 months ahead of schedule.
But this isn’t a post about fitness, rather decision making. Shortly after I issued my push-up decree, I applied for, and was accepted to Ladies Learning Code’s Digital Skills course. I was finally going to learn how to code and check that off my to-do list. As you know, that course inspired the idea behind this blog.
That’s not to say this is all easy. It’s not. I gave up Tuesday and Thursday nights for seven weeks. I’ve turned down plans to go to the gym. I’ve put myself out there, tried new things and in the case of this blog, have been doing that with others following along.
However, this website wouldn’t exist without momentum. Starting a blog is something I’ve been talking about for a while, perpetually on my “to-do” list. I wasn’t lacking technical skills – what I was really lacking was the confidence to try it.
While hindsight is 20/20, it’s amazingly clear to me how the decision to cast one stone has sent a ripple effect of wonderful things into my life this year. Over the weekend I was trying a weightlifting move I had never done so I called the coach over to watch my form and movement before adding more weight. I spent a lot of my early days in his classes. After I threw that bar overhead and tried to remember to engage my core while locking my arms and staying balanced in my squat he said, “You’ve come so far from when you first started here.”
While he was talking specifically about CrossFit, he’s right. I’ve come a long way from that unhappy woman last summer staring down her 29th birthday and wondering what her life would be like a year from now. Instead as I approach a milestone birthday in a few months I’m excited to continue prioritizing friends, family, my health and both my personal and professional development.
I know it sounds so simple, and almost too good to be true, but if you’re feeling stuck start with one simple action to move your to-do list in a positive direction. And just remember, you’ve come a long way to get here. You’ve got this – I know it.