My Team and I did a book study last winter. The book was Atomic Habits, by James Clear. James has established himself as an expert and thought leader in the theory and practice of habit formation.
One of the interesting concepts in the book is initiating a new habit with ridiculously small steps. Clear tells the story of a client who wanted to start working out. For the first several days, she simply got into a cab…rode to the gym…got out…then immediately grabbed a different cab back home. Didn’t even go in the doors. Crazy, right? Eventually, she took the step of going inside and actually working out. She said, “For me, the most critical part of establishing the habit was physically getting myself out of my apartment and to the gym.”
I decided to take this to heart. I needed to lose a few pounds but going to the gym has never been an issue for me. I actually like lifting weights. It’s cardio that I don’t enjoy. I hate to run, and the thought of 30 minutes on an elliptical or a Stairmaster makes me nauseous.
I thought…how about walking? That seemed palatable. I started by simply walking from the weightlifting area over to the indoor track. I went in the door…stood on the track…and then walked right back out. Headed for the parking lot. I chuckled as I did this (along with feeling like a loser). I repeated this for a whole week. Then, in Week 2…I walked one lap. That’s right. One lap, then headed home.
Soon one lap became two and two became three. When warm weather arrived, I switched to walking outdoors. Fast forward five months, and I am proud to say that I am walking between 3-5 miles at a time and doing that 4-5 days a week. My longest walk this Summer has been 6.2 miles.
I think James Clear may be onto something. Big change happens in little steps. For me, that’s 100% true. Literally.