We all have something that we want to do. We carry these acorns in a safe space protecting them from the light of day, from getting scorched by the sun of other’s disbelief or even our own doubts. If we do nothing the dream is “safe.” While it might be protected, the dream deferred can also, in Langston Hughes’ words, “dry up like a raisin in the sun” or over time “just sags like a heavy load.”
It can be scary and exhilarating to start something new. Any action puts you on a path of change, which will cause a ripple effect for more change. It’s overwhelming, exciting, and daunting to move forward. And that’s exactly the direction change propels you: forward.
Many years ago, one of my hidden secrets was to run a marathon. Did I run? No. Had I ever run? No. Did I like to run (thinking back to high school’s presidential fitness tests)? No. Did I know how to run? No. Did I know how to train to run long distance, or short distance for that matter? No. Did I know how to “fuel” (eat/hydrate) to run? No. Did I have the attire to run? No. But yet, I wanted to run a marathon.
Regardless of the goal, each one requires a first step. One action. For me, it was run 1 block. Done. I made it. Then on to the next step. Each step, each action slowly generated another action such as:
- Practice getting up at 6am to run (but not running)
- Get up at 6am and run
- Run a block, walk a block, run a block model
- Commit to some duration of running such as 3 times a week
- Tell one friend who’d finished a marathon who gave me her training program, signed me up for my first race – a 5K, and agreed to run with me
- Buy properly fitted running shoes thanks to Pacer’s Running
- Purchase Under Armour cold weather gear
- Read a book on how to prepare to run a marathon
- Get more sleep
- Get a Reiki treatment for a nagging issue I’d carried in my body since 5th grade
- Discover hill repeats
- Find out gummy worms were my boost of choice on long distances
As I let more sun in on my dream, I could more easily see it come true. Each step also brought more help from my family and friends, plus coworkers who watched me online during a staff meeting as my tracking chip showed my mile marker progress on race day.
Each single action led me to another single action. Cumulatively each step led me from 2 mile to 5 miles to 10 miles to 18 miles, and yes, to finish 26.2 miles. Cumulatively each step gave me confidence. Cumulatively, each step confirmed I could overcome the inevitable setbacks. Cumulatively, I became a runner.
What’s your first step?