“How do you get all those steps?” I hear that question a lot. I didn’t have an answer I really liked until this week. That feels kinda dumb since you’d think I would have thought this through a bit more before going public with my 20k One Year Step Challenge on September 1.
My answer to that question changed as I was thinking about Step 4 of setting and reaching Intentional Goals. It’s funny how you don’t realize the true essence of a thing until you spend some time figuring out how to explain it to others.
If you’re just seeing this blog for the first time it might be helpful to go back and read about the first three steps. Step One is deciding whether an idea is worth pursuing as a goal with a real commitment to reaching the finish line. Step Two is setting not one, but two goals. Step Three is draining the emotion. And, Step Four is the answer to the question, “How do you get all those steps?”
When I started writing this series on Intentional Goals I thought Step Four was all about scheduling time to make progress on the goal. And, that’s certainly part of it. But, that’s not all of it…maybe not even the most important part.
In his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” Steven Covey makes the case that all of life’s activities can be divided in to four quadrants.
Covey wrote that people who are successful live in Quadrant Two as much as possible. They make time for the important, but not urgent things of life. The challenge is that the urgent stuff, whether it’s important or not, pushes everything else to the sidelines.
My 20k One Year Step Challenge would qualify as important, but not urgent. Nobody will be harmed if I only get 6,000 steps one day. I won’t even be harmed. Embarrassed maybe, but not harmed. It’s easy to let life’s little “emergencies” take over (Quadrant Three). Its even easier to let life’s little pleasures take over (Quadrant Four).
So, Step Four is scheduling these Quadrant Two activities which are really Intentional Goals. But, here’s the thing. I’ve scheduled plenty of things in my life that NEVER happen. Scheduling isn’t the issue. Following through is. Who cares if I have something written on my schedule. That’s easy. What’s difficult…and this is the real answer to getting 20,000 steps…or achieving any Intentional Goal…is this:
Saying NO to myself.
I love mornings. I love getting up early, easing into the day with a cup of coffee and The New York Times. Even better, is doing that at a funky little coffee shop. I also know that if I’m serious about this 20k One Year Step Challenge the best time of day for me to get steps is…you got it…the morning.
One of the hardest things for me to do as I’ve increased the number of steps I’m getting is to change my morning routine. If I start the morning with that cup of coffee and The New York Times I will have a much harder time moving and reaching the goal I set for myself. If I start with a cardio workout THEN sit down with the coffee it gives me a great foundation to reach my goal.
Bottom line…I’m learning how to say NO to myself so I can do the more important, but less urgent, thing. And, I can see how that principle translates to every Intentional Goal I’m pursuing. There will always be something more urgent or more fun tugging at me.
In fact, just now as I was getting ready to write this blog I was faced with a choice. I had scheduled time to sit at my computer and write. But, the weather outside is really gorgeous.
We haven’t had too many days like this in a while. What I want to do is go outside for a long walk. I can even justify why I need to do this because I’m still short of my 20,000 step goal today. But, what I have scheduled to do is write. I’m living out in real time what I’m writing about. How cool is that! I’m saying no to myself so I can do the thing I scheduled and planned to do before I felt the tug of a gorgeous day.
The irony, of course, is I also have to reach my step goal. Later I may even have to say no to something else so I can do that. Although I suspect today it won’t be nearly as challenging to get those steps as it is on the rainy days we’ve been getting so often here.
My writing is important, but not urgent. It can be delayed till tomorrow or even a couple days from now. And, isn’t that also the essence of procrastination. I put off doing the important thing because I’d rather do the urgent or fun thing instead. The important, but not urgent thing just keeps getting put off till it either can’t be ignored or until it just gets tossed aside permanently.
So, Steven Covey is right. We need to make our Quadrant Two activities a priority. That needs to show up in how I plan and schedule. I need to be intentional about scheduling time. But, even more importantly, I need to say no to myself to make sure it happens.
Click here for Step Five of setting and reaching Intentional Goals. This is actually a step I enjoy a lot and has been huge in keeping me moving forward with the goals I’m trying to reach.
Have you decided to make Fitness a goal for 2019? Walking is a great way to build a chain of Fitness Wins. Do you have a plan? Starting next week this blog will give you a five part plan to Win at Fitness through walking. If you click the FOLLOW button (below if you’re reading on a cell phone or to the right and above if you’re on your computer) and you’ll get an email the moment each blog is posted.