The 3 Things You Need To Take That First Step

When I moved home to live with my parents after graduating, I spent a lot of time on Pinterest, secretly hoping that pinning inspirational memes with quotes like, "It's just one foot in front of the other", "Sore today, strong tomorrow", and "A year from now you'll wish you started today" would help me, motivate me or do something to help me not feel lost, confused and alone. You can pin until the cows come home but unless you figure out just what's stopping you, you'll never take that first step.

For me, I thought waiting would help me find direction. I thought someone would come forward with an opportunity or I'd one day wake up with an idea that would put me on the right track. Because I didn't know how to take my first step, all those cliches didn't resonate and make sense to me. I didn't hear, "A year from now you'll wish you have started today" and think, "OF COURSE! THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE!" I thought, "How can I think about a year from now when today feels impossible?" Then the day came when I was so exhausted from feeling sad that I just wanted to run away. So I ran. Then I kept running and running showed me that there isn't a "road" you should be on. It's OK to go in a direction completely different than everyone around you. It's also OK to follow. As long as you're moving (be it in circles, backwards-yes, backwards, forwards, sideways etc.) Then you'll be OK. In fact, even if you're standing still buzzing like a hummingbird, you'll survive and that's really what life is all about.

I don't think it's completely a matter of how much you want something. You can want something more than you've ever wanted something in your life, but if you don't have the courage to take the first step, it won't happen. The first step is always the hardest but it's only one part of an endless process that changes with you. For example, I've run 5 marathons now and I now understand that there will never be a day where running, getting active or working out will be effortless or easy. It's always going to be hard. But as you get stronger, and as you proceed to climb the first of many mountains, you will look back and see that when you really do (ready for the cliche?) put one foot in front of the other, you make headway.

When something feels impossible, there are only three things you need to take that first step. You need-

  1. Hope
  2. Trust
  3. A willingness to fail. 

You need hope because what's the use in trying or even going forward if you don't think you can do it? It's OK to doubt yourself or to acknowledge that the paralyzing fear is frustrating and holding you back. It can be 99% doubt and 1% hope, but as long as that 1% is there, you'll be OK. When you have hope, you have a purpose.

Trust because you have to trust that you will figure it out. How many times have you tried something and given up? We all have! Let that go. Maybe this time will be different, maybe it won't. I really believe that the only way you'll fail is if you fail to try. Sometimes your circumstances are louder than your drive to make a change. But a day will come, if you continue to try, that you will push yourself and realize it's not impossible, it just isn't easy. Strength requires patience. Results and progress will never happen overnight. It's humbling but you have to trust that if you take the first step, you'll keep going.

Finally, you have to have a willingness to fail because there is a very real possibility that you're going to stumble, crash and burn or fail multiple times before getting to the top of whatever mountain you're climbing. (Then you'll look up and realize that you're at the foot of another mountain.) Chances are, you won't know what you're doing and you won't know what to expect. It's not about doing it the "right" or "wrong" way, there are only choices. Just make a choice, try it and re-evaluate if you find that it's not working. That's what I mean by fail. Learn from speed bumps and set backs.

I'm not kidding when I say that taking that first step isn't easy. Nothing worth doing will ever be easy. But if you aren't challenging yourself, you aren't growing. You have to learn how to get uncomfortable. That's the secret, learning to lean into the discomfort because that is where change lives. Just say yes to you and believe that you're capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for.

Just do me a favor and stop saying that you'll start tomorrow. Take the first step right now or later today. Just do it. Set some goals, both long term and short term, and then look in the mirror and tell yourself you're worth it. I know you can do it. Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.