Updated: Sep 25, 2020
A week or so ago, I was starting (not for the first time) Week 1 of C25K, an app that helps runners gradually build endurance from “couch” to being able to run a full 5k. Like always, the app started up with an inspirational message, but this particular night’s was this:
No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.
I don’t know who the original source of the quote was — when I tried to search, I found hundreds of variations all over the internet. But the point is this —
Doing SOMETHING is better than doing nothing.
Even when your “something” seems not-good-enough, it’s forward motion. Growth. Progress.
And it’s far better than staying on the couch.
Really, this isn’t a new concept to me at all. My husband, who is a business consultant and life coach, has been saying this sort of thing for years. Envision your end goal. Break it into small parts. Set achievable, small goals. And then just start DOING SOMETHING every day. Small somethings add up to big somethings over time.
Is my house super-messy? Cleaning up two or three areas today might not erase the whole problem, but it makes the job easier for tomorrow. Then tomorrow, I clean two or three more areas. And two or three more the next day. Even if I only picked up one item each day, by the end of the year, that would be 365 items that I’d cleaned up. Sure, maybe my mess is growing faster than that rate of cleaning (I have 3 kids, so certainly it is!), but it’s still better than not doing it at all simply because the big picture is overwhelming.
I am a mom of 3 kids age 6 and under (2020 update: now four kids, ages 9 and under!), I homeschool the oldest, I teach part-time, I run a part-time business from home, and I do freelance writing and editing. My life is BUSY. My biggest struggle is finding time to spend with my husband, most days, because the tasks and to-do lists just never stop. EVER.
But I decided this past summer that my writing was important to me. It was… part of me, a part I felt I’d lost and that I needed to get back. And so I set a goal over the summer — write every day. Just something. Small, a paragraph maybe. But every day, something.
That habit transformed my life. From that one “every day, something,” I now have 10 stories up on Wattpad, blog articles, e-books published, and a novel in the works. Just something, every day, added up to lots.
I often still feel overwhelmed. I fail at my writing goals all the time. I no longer write every day, but I write as often as I can — usually a few minutes before bed, or a longer session once or twice a week when I can find time. My novel is far more slow-going than I had hoped. I had envisioned, when I began it for NaNoWriMo, that it would be completed and edited by now. Instead, it’s in pieces, torn apart and restructured, waiting for me to write it all over again.
But still, slow-going is better than not going at all.
Sometimes I catch myself envying people who are producing more, doing more, being more. But then I realize — my life is rich. I love my family, I have a comfortable (if messy) home, I have jobs I enjoy and that bring in extra income, and my husband — he is amazing. He works hard, so hard, and always still finds time to love and give and serve. And yet I feel the need to rush, to push, to achieve — something. Ideals. Goals I have had for myself since childhood that pull at me still.
But then I remember — it doesn’t have to be done in a day. In fact, if I want to do it well, it can’t be. I used to be a runner, so I know — no good runner would jump off the couch, not having practiced for weeks, and just dive into a full marathon. It takes little bits, small achievements, pieces and pieces that eventually add up to something big. Forward motion. Progress.
And so, today, I write this blog. I have failed miserably at my goal of maintaining once-a-week blog entries over the past few months. But I have been making small achievements in other areas, and I’m here today — writing. Forward motion. Progress.
And that version of myself from before this summer, the one who hadn’t written anything in years because life had swallowed up the energy? I’m lapping her. Big time. 🙂