Sometime last year I downloaded the C25K app to my trusty iPhone SE (Stop laughing… I know it’s old. You’ll get used to that with me. )

So… anyway, last year…

I say “sometime last year,’ because despite it’s ability to track the movement of my ass on the pavement, it never seemed to track a single step. I installed it. Opened it a lot. Examined each of my pre-scheduled runs, and marveled at how easy it was to get started.

Simple! Step one, complete.

Hmm… a little too easy, perhaps, because outside of installing it and prepping my bedside with my sneakers, workout clothes, and fluorescent yellow safety jacket, the app never tracked a single step.

Because, my lazy ass never got out of bed until the absolute last minute of snoozing demanded it. And it sure wasn’t to run. In the cold. In the heat. Ya’ know…

Of course, this is a common problem. I’m not sharing anything new.

We all know the struggle. And, we all know how well a program like C25K works at getting millions of people moving again after having been stationary for so long. We know, from having read books on strengthening our willpower, or creating mini-habits, that momentum makes momentum. It does. And, yet we ignore the call.

Because, truly getting started is the entire battle.

Mini steps, and mini-habits are wonderful, but we can load up our action list with so many of them, we never really get to the one that matters… the second step… that one big LEAP you need to take that actually propels you into motion. Running doesn’t happen until you actually… RUN.

First Steps!

For example, you can plan out a ton of “first steps” to help you feel like you’re actually getting somewhere… here are a few common ones when it comes to running:

1. Download a running app like C25K.
2. Place your newly minted enthusiasm for running on your calendar (Don’t forget!).
3. Prep your running gear. Maybe by your bed, or by the front door. Maybe outside, even!
4. Visualize yourself looking slimmer and feeling more fit in just 90 days. Hells, yeah!
5. Search for a running buddy…
6. No takers? Hmmm… Well, how about… #7?!
7. Keep waiting…
8. Still no one. ;-(
9. Download the latest version of the app in the iTunes Store.
10. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

TOTAL RUNS: 0

Allowing ourselves to rest on these “first step” laurels fools our tiny little brains into thinking we’ve actually accomplished something we haven’t. There is a ton of interesting research on this, actually. Good stuff. Sadly, in the process, of feeling good about essentially doing nothing, we rob ourselves of an opportunity to truly make an impact in our own lives.

We should correct this deficiency.

And, we can start by recognizing that “taking the first step” is often a crutch for inactivity. How many times have you stopped moving forward after taking your so-called first step?

I know I’ve stopped countless times.

So, this year I ditched the approach entirely, and now focus on my second and third steps… or, better yet my ACTION steps.

As in…

“What is the one thing I can do that will literally propel me forward?”

I like this idea because when you think about second steps, you end up focusing on the action that produces the beginning of the desired result. With running, for example the only thing that actually does get you running is, well… moving your feet… forward.

This idea works for everything. Try it on for size.

Think of something you’ve wanted to do for a long time but haven’t — it’ll be even better if you’ve laid out a course of “first steps” previously, but failed to follow through.

Now, think about the one thing you could do (your second step… your action step… ), that’ll allow you to see an actual RESULT following that action?

In other words, what can you do NOW that tomorrow you’ll be able to look back on and say, “I did THIS one thing, and THAT was the result.”?

If running is the goal, putting your shoes near your bed doesn’t actually produce a result other than adjusting the location of your shoes. It’s just not enough. You need to say, I’m going to run down the street once and back. That’s an action step.

And, it’s those action steps that propel you and your life into motion.

Advice.

A dear friend of mine runs each week on Saturdays… long runs too. A few hours in a skip. She started some years ago when she had a bit more time on her hands, and it became an entrenched habit for her — a good one. Since then she’s run distances just under a marathon. Cold weather, hot weather… she’s out there. She’s a true inspiration.

Some months ago, she was sharing with me the exhilaration she once experienced while running in a competitive event.

At first… torture.
She wanted to quit… felt sick, even…
Her legs — ready to give out.

As the miles progressed, and the pain seemed incessant, something happened… the pain went away. And she found herself… elated… accomplished. Personal witness to blasting through whatever fears were occupying her that day and pleading with her to stop. She didn’t listen to them. Fearless.

Listening to her tell this story was about as goose-bumpy as it gets, and it was so inspiring I decided to do something about it.

So, I took my own second step. And, within a week I was out on the pavement, huffing and puffing my way through day one of my C25K program (it works now!).

The words she shared with me that day gave me the foundation for this whole approach. She said, simply… “It’s easy, all you do is put one foot in front of the other and, before you know it… you’re running!”

And, she was right.
That’s step two in action.

And, boy, does this stuff work.

Because, after years of contemplating running (and watching friends run marathons and 100-milers), I’m making my way through the program, and heading toward a 10K. I must be nuts! But, I’m down ten pounds, and my numbers from the doctor are much improved. So, why not?!

So, if this concept of taking that “second step” could get my non-running ass out on the pavement, I’m sure you could do just about anything as well.

This year, a friend helped me start something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I love her for that. She’s also now my girlfriend… how ’bout them apples!?

What’s your second step?

Let me know in the comments below!