My running, for most of my life, has been intermittent. My typical run is 4 or 5 miles, a solid running week is two or three runs. That means that at most I’ve run 12 to 15 miles in a week, and most of the time I’m in the 0-to-10 mile a week range.
In fact, I’d guess that in the last 25 years, I’ve had fewer than 10 weeks in which I’ve run more than 15 miles.
Last week was one of those weeks. But the magic was that it didn’t feel like I’d run at all. That’s because last week, I turned my morning walk with our puppy into a relaxed jog: 2.3 miles every day, 3 miles on Saturday.
The math of 2+2+2+3+2+2+2 is, literally, elementary.
The fact that a 15-mile week has been sitting there, hidden in plain sight from me for decades, speaks to the elusive power of consistency.
Little, nearly unnoticeable things that we do every day are so much more profound than our big efforts.
We build deep strength not through the strain of pushing ourselves in the moment but through the discipline of daily commitment sustained over time.
To become a great public speaker, work on telling mini-stories throughout your day when talking to colleagues and customers.
To become more capable of speaking truth to power, say one (just one) more real thing to someone you trust each and every day.
To become a better listener, commit to asking three follow-up questions once each day instead of jumping to answers.
To become more generous, say ‘yes’ to every request for a month.
And, yes, to get rid of that nagging pain in your neck, or shoulder, or ankle, or knee, find a 10 minute stretching routine and a time each day to do it.
Since the magic is in the consistency, you might need hacks that help you keep your promises. Here are five ideas to get you going:
- Find a buddy who will help keep you accountable. A spouse, a colleague or a dog will suffice. You could even get an Accountability Dude (or, presumably, Dudette) in Slack, or a Supporti accountability partner.
- Find a way to make your commitment public to someone. Put up a 30-day challenge calendar somewhere public, write a blog post or email to 10 people letting them know your plan, make a pact with one person at work.
- Make a dedicated time in the day. There’s a reason people mediate first thing in the morning, and a reason I used to write this blog on my train ride home. A fixed time and place where you do the thing you’ve committed to do makes all the difference.
- Plan for the dip. Somewhere in the middle life will happen and you’ll feel like stopping. Know in advance that this is coming and decide now that you won’t let it stop you.
- Respect the power of “every day.” It’s not the same thing as “most days,” not at all. “Most” is vague, “every” is absolute. It doesn’t allow for any slippage, and that’s the point.
The math is easy. Living the commitment can be too. You just have to start, and build the structures that will help you keep at it.