I was lying in bed, minutes away from sleep, when a strange thought popped into my head.
I want to start running.
Why that thought, at that particular time? I have no idea. It was a strange idea at a strange time.
But for some reason, I seized it. I thumbed open the App Store and downloaded the fitness app Strava. One of my good friends uses it to track his runs, so I figured I could track mine too and draw inspiration from him.
I set my alarm for 6 am and fell asleep.
The next morning I woke up, threw on my shoes, and ran almost 2 miles. Then I did it again and again.
That first week I ran over 7 miles.
It Starts With One Thing
I’ve started and stopped more hobbies than I can count. My whimsical ideas often fizzle out and I lose interest after a few weeks.
I’ve tried to build a consistent habit of working out my entire life. I spent a week trying to produce electronic music last year before quitting.
I’ve even tried to start running before, through the popular Couch to 5k program, but I hated it. I hated how my lungs felt like they were on fire, and how my legs hurt like hell after the first 60 seconds.
But there I was, lying in bed that night, ready to give running another shot. What was different this time?
Let me explain.
Last month I decided to quit playing video games for an entire year. Then a few days later I challenged myself to publish new content every single day.
I started making a purposeful effort to be a better me, and it all began with something simple: a public post on quitting a hobby I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid.
Do It For You
I’m not an influencer, famous blogger, or professional gamer. I have 40 followers on twitter, most of them dormant accounts.
I deleted my Facebook last year. My social media presence is non-existent.
But that’s exactly why I’ve been so successful this month in meeting my goals. I’m not doing this for anyone else. I’m doing it for me.
I didn’t care if anyone read my post about quitting video games, and for a while no one did. It had less than 10 views for weeks and was one of my least popular posts on Medium.
Then out of nowhere, almost a month later, I started getting claps and comments. Some person had curated my piece in the Gaming topic and my views exploded.
Publishing that post was a baby step in the right direction. I’d started pushing a boulder and with every new post I published that boulder gained speed.
The next thing I knew my work was accepted to publications like The Ascent and Better Marketing. Since then I’ve had thousands of views on my posts. I’ve continued to publish every day this month.
My decision to start running came after I quit video games, but that’s not why I started running.
I started running because I’d been taking little steps to become a better person and that positive momentum was adding up. So when I wanted to try something new it was easy.
Just another step forward.
I didn’t start with a grand plan to become a marathon runner in 12 months. I had nothing planned out. I had a spur of the moment idea and I just did it.
But my baby steps had set me up for success.
What Little Step Can You Take Today?
Forget making a five-year plan. What little thing can you do today that you know will make you a better person?
No positive decision is too small. You could start by smiling to a few random people today, complimenting a stranger, or calling your parents.
Then do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next.
Challenge yourself to take more positive actions each day. If you have any whimsical thoughts, take action on them. Say yes to things. Become the kind of person who finishes what they start.
The next thing you know you’ll have made huge progress. You’ll look back and wonder what happened? What started all of this?
It was the little, almost meaningless steps, that started you on this path.