You’ve walked by it dozens of time, be it that hair elastic on your bedroom floor or the pair of dirty socks left in the garage. It’s irksome—that thing, whatever it is—and you know you should just take care of it. Pick it up. Put it away. Throw it away. Return it to the rightful owner.
You have bigger messes, too. The question arises, “How did my house get so messy?” “Why do I have no clean clothes?” “Why is my closet so disorganized?” “What the hell happened to the inside of my car?”
You know at one point things weren’t so. Everything had its place in your home and some order did exist. Now all you know is that it doesn’t. Life feels a bit out of control.
It always starts with that one thing. The hair elastic or the dirty socks or the dish sitting by the sink with food particles stuck to it. Once something is out of place or not put away, other things march right up behind it. An empty water bottle sits next to the socks. A pair of underwear nestles snuggly over the hair elastic. Another paper coffee cup remains in the car.
That’s how messes begin.
So what would happen if you dealt with that one thing the first time you saw it? You just picked it up and put it away the moment you knew it was out of place? Or it never got out of place to begin with because you put it right where it belonged the moment you are finished using it?
That small initial step could potentially stop the need for a complete overhaul of your kitchen or bedroom or car. You would go to bed every night with all things neatly put away and wake up to a clean home.
It always starts with that one thing when it comes to fitness and nutrition as well. If you feel your current fitness or nutrition situation is like a messy house—you can’t remember how it got that way and don’t know where to begin—start with that one thing.
A complete overhaul in this situation is never easy. They work for some, and may work for you. But it’s usually short term. You want to create good habits that will stick with you while kicking bad habits to the curb.
Overhauls are often easier said than done. How many times do you hear or say I’m going to start my diet tomorrow. I’m going to start running tomorrow. I’m going to sign up for that fitness class next week. This weekend, all junk food is history!
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but tomorrow, next week, and this weekend don’t really exist. It’s time to start living in the moment. It’s time to start that one thing. Right now. Commit to it.
Get out a piece of paper and divide it into three segments. Add these titles to each segment: ASAP, Near Future, Within the Year.
Under ASAP write down 5 things you can do to change your lifestyle for the better within the next week. Under Near Future write down five things you can do to change your health for the better within the next three months. Finally, under Within the Year write down 5 things you want to accomplish within the next 12 months.
Think small. Think singular. Make these five things attainable. Make them sticky. Examples: cut back to 3 sodas per week. Use mustard instead of mayonnaise. Walk for 15 minutes after work during the week. Eat a salad four nights a week for dinner. Get to bed by 10PM. These are all things you can start implementing now. Pick one for today and as the week progresses I want you to find a way to implement all of your goals.
These five things can build on those first answers. If you cut back to 3 sodas per week, give up soda all together. If you stopped using mayonnaise, maybe you can quit fast food. Turn that walk into 30 minutes a night and set a goal to eat 2-3 cups of veggies per day.
Within the Year
Here is where those big goals hit. What is it you really want from all of this? This is where you get greedy. Drop 100 pounds, run a marathon, deadlift twice your bodyweight, look super sexy for your class reunion.
That’s the gold star at the top. So the goal each month is to build upon the positive habits you’ve already created to climb to the pinnacle.
You don’t necessarily need to stick to this timeline. It’s just a starting point. You may find it’s easier to give up ranch dressing than soda. You may give up soda completely that first week. That 15-minute walk could easily turn into a fitness class within days.
It’s not about adhering to a certain plan or timeline. It’s about making better choices each and every day. It’s committing to change your life for the better one step at a time.