Do Something. Do Anything.

Although I’ll be somewhere in the Australian outback by the time you read this, it’s 8PM at the time of this writing on Tuesday night, the night before I head out.

I’m going to be 100% honest with you: I wasn’t sure what I was going to write tonight and when I finally started typing I didn’t think I’d be able to get through the whole thing – the past few weeks of less than optimal sleep, a book launch, and a hectic travel schedule have finally caught up to me and it’s been a struggle to come up with an idea.

After spending the morning and afternoon getting caught up on emails and Rebel Strength Guide stuff, I went and exercised in the park, worrying the whole time about the article I was going to write for today. I didn’t have the time or the mental capacity to put together a post that would be up to my normal standards (2000+ words, full of references and nerdy analogies), and because of that I started getting down on myself.  After sitting down at my computer with no good thoughts in my mind, I put off starting a new draft for as long as humanly possible (though you could call watching the first 15 minutes of “A Game of Thrones” research).

I asked myself: if you can’t do something 100%, what’s the point of doing it at all?

And then I decided: Just get started and see how far you get.


Do Something. Do Anything. Just Get Started.

When it comes to leveling up your life, doing SOMETHING is almost always better than nothing…Unless the “something” happens to be “eat paint chips” or “drink motor oil.” The hardest part of getting healthy is making the first move:

  • taking the first step out the door for a run
  • chopping up the first ingredient for a healthy meal
  • saying no to the first doughnut at work
  • waking up earlier than normal on that first morning

Or in my case tonight, the hardest part about writing an article is putting down the first few words on the screen.  However, if you can get past that first step, your body knows what its supposed to do and momentum can carry you through the rest of the steps.

This first step is even more crucial if you’re JUST getting started for the first time. If you’re overweight, out of shape, and having a rough time with life…the thought of exercising on a daily basis probably scares the crap out of you.  If you’ve never run a mile, a marathon seems like some fantasy distance that only imaginary people run.  If you’re trying to get out of thousands of dollars of credit card debt, saving a few dollars here and there seems like a complete waste of time.

Don’t freak out! Keep your composure! After all, something is better than nothing.

  • If you don’t have time for your full workout – do half of it.
  • If you can’t do a full push up, do half of one!
  • If you can’t run a full mile, walk it.
  • If you’re headed on a vacation where there’s only bad food, do the best you can to eat healthy for at least one meal.
  • If you can’t pay off $100 bucks of this month, do $50. Or $25. Or $10.

Why Something Is Better than Nothing

I know what you’re thinking: “this just seems like a lot of half-assing, Steve…I thought Yoda said ‘do or do not, there is no try’?”

I’m not one to go against Yoda, so I’ll clarify my position – you’re not half-assing it if you can’t do something all the way for a legitimate reason: weather, unexpected work project, your kid gets sick, flight delay, whatever.  Sh** happens and life doesn’t always go according to plan.

In these instances, I will always advocate something over nothing for a multitude of reasons:

We are creatures of habit. Every day, we make decisions that either take us one step closer or one step further away from our goals.  When trying to get in shape, establishing good habits and positive reinforcement is instrumental in having long-term success.  If you tell yourself that it’s okay to “skip just this one workout,” the next time you have a conflict it’ll be a little bit easier to “I’ll skip just this one too.”  However, if you can drag yourself out the door for a workout even when you don’t want to, it’ll be easier to convince yourself “hey I did it last time, I can do it this time too.”

WHO CARES if you don’t have time for the whole workout? Half of it is so much better for you than none of it.  Not only are you burning more calories than you would have had you skipped it, but you’re also planting a “I’m getting healthy” thought at the front of your mind for the rest of the day, which will positively influence every other decision you make.

Optimus Prime has taught us that small changes add up to big transformations. Tony (a.k.a. Endorphin Dude) thought he was having a heart attack a few years ago so he decided to just go for a walk.  Nothing crazy, just a simple walk.  Each day after that, he walked a little bit further and further, and then started jogging….and now Tony runs marathons on a weekly basis all over the country.  It’s easy for nerds like us to get overwhelmed by looking too far ahead into the future and freaking out.  Take things one small change at a time, one day at a time, and  focus on puting one foot in front of the other. You can figure the rest out as you go.

How to do Something

This is the easiest part to explain and the hardest part to implement: shut up, stop complaining, stop making excuses, suck it up, and do something.  Do anything. My friend Tyler put a quote on his twitter account the other day that really made me think:

“No one believes your excuses except for you.”

We all have crappy situations and circumstances that we’re dealing with in our lives: not enough time, too tired, bad day at work, girlfriend cheated on me, lost my job, I can’t beat level 4-2 of Angry Birds, whatever…these things will only be your downfall if you let them.  If you really want to start living better, you need to stop using these excuses as crutches to make yourself feel better about shirking your responsibilities.

Remember Rule #1 of the Rebellion: “we don’t make excuses, we offer solutions.”

So go do something.

Go do anything.

If you haven’t exercised in a month, go for a walk on your lunch break.  If you’ve eaten 20 unhealthy meals in a row, make tonight the first healthy meal.  If you usually chain smoke 30 cigarettes a day, aim for 29.  Aim to be better, no matter how miniscule the difference is.

Every little bit counts, every little bit helps.

Now get started.

-Steve

Woot of the Week: From rebel 1Fever, a US Army Lieutenant currently stationed in Iraq:

I made the Captains list! For those of you that don’t know the system, Lieutenants are reviewed in their 3rd year for eligibility for promotion to Captain.

Once the board determines eligibility they give the LT a sequence number and the LT waits for that number to come up. Usually between 1-6 months.

The big thing is getting on the list because once you are on it you will get promoted as long as you don’t do something illegal, immoral, or are out of shape. So I’m super jacked.

Congrats 1Fever, and thank you for your service!  Have an awesome success story or just a moment full of win? Share it in the Woot Room

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  • http://profiles.google.com/james.kirkwood James Kirkwood

    Amen brother. I can’t count the number of weekends I didn’t want to work out but started with that first step – “I’ll just change into my workout clothes so I’m ready”, or “I’ll just do a little warm ups to loosen up” and the rest took care of itself. Great wisdom in what you’ve written here.

  • Erin

    Good timing; I need this right now. Today I am aiming to be better!

  • http://www.kristensloan.com/ Kristen Sloan

    I have a friend who is struggling on how to change her life and I told her to just get started. Take some steps forward, even if the progress looks small on the outside. And today I read this article which is perfect for her, can’t wait to share with her!

  • http://profiles.google.com/ajweekley Amy Weekley

    YES! Thanks for this post. I’ve been struggling this week due to some life events and a full-scale depressive episode and it’s been hard to get back on track with my workouts and eating enough. But you’re right, I don’t have to do everything at once. Just one thing at a time until I get back into the groove.

  • http://howtobeaweso.me Dan

    It’s true, it really is the combination of little things that get you going.

    We can all talk the talk, but can we walk the walk?

  • Silas Anover

    Steve, very well said. Couldn’t agree more. People often give up on something before they even consider trying. They assume finishing is not possible and therefore don’t bother. Two problems here.

    1. You never know that you won’t finish until you attempt
    2. You WILL finish if you try, refine, try again, repeat

    I have the utmost respect and have found myself connecting more and more with people who do. I want to know the people who are passionate about something, anything.

    Cheers!

  • Artofruth

    Can’t write much – you inspired me to get off my ass and finish the painting I’m working on! Later!!

  • Artofruth

    Oh, BTW – I got my body fat & measurements done this week. Since Nov I have lost an additional 8 lbs, 5 inches & 2% body fat. I am 60 & my body fat is now 26%.

    In the last 15 months, I have gone from 210 to 140lbs, 42% to 26% body fat & from size 1X to size 8.

    My next step is to firm up some more and bulk up muscles. I want my body fat under 25% and bulkier muscles without gaining any weight.

    For those who wonder how it’s done, remember the old riddle: How do you eat an elephant? The answer: One bite at a time.

  • PattyRice

    Boy this post hit home with me too. I am usually an all or nothing person and I too just need to remember that if I don’t have time to “do it all”, I can at least make the effort to start my walks, etc.
    Also-congrats to 1Fever on his promotion and Thank you for your service Captain!
    Artofruth-good for you! Wow!

  • http://twitter.com/sweetlouisekc Sweet Louise

    This is the second “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” memo I’ve received this week. Thanks for the clue bat. :)

    For the writers out there – the book “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott really helped me with Just. Getting. Started on crappy first drafts.

  • http://twitter.com/SurferLifestyle Sal Greco

    This runs through my head all the time. I have to do what I am passionate about otherwise I forget who I am. Sometimes you do not do something simply because you do not start it. This is why I push myself not to play the guitar, but just pick it up.

    I know that if I pick it up, I will DEFINITELY get lost in it, and polish my craft at the same time…

    Surfs up,

    p.s. I like whats going on here!!!

  • http://twitter.com/SurferLifestyle Sal Greco

    This runs through my head all the time. I have to do what I am passionate about otherwise I forget who I am. Sometimes you do not do something simply because you do not start it. This is why I push myself not to play the guitar, but just pick it up.

    I know that if I pick it up, I will DEFINITELY get lost in it, and polish my craft at the same time…

    Surfs up,

    p.s. I like whats going on here!!!

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  • http://www.artoflifting.com Jeremy | Art of Lifting

    I think my favorite saying of all time is that things in life are best done slow cooked. The message of this saying is exactly the same as yours in this post. It’s about making gradual changes in life over time in order to transform yourself into something exceptional. Something heroic.

    With dieting and fitness especially, a lot of experts try to get people to make drastic changes in the way. I really appreciate how you realize that, for most people, taking things one step at a time often leads to the most powerful changes.

  • Maria

    I love this post! I love the comments and the inspiration people (myself included, excuse factory and all) got from it! And mostly, I love that you followed through with writing it even though you didn’t know what to expect. The result is a big-happy-playful-slap-on-the-ass-reminder that pushing aside procrastination and fear leaves room for magic to happen. Thank you!

  • Maria

    I love this post! I love the comments and the inspiration people (myself included, excuse factory and all) got from it! And mostly, I love that you followed through with writing it even though you didn’t know what to expect. The result is a big-happy-playful-slap-on-the-ass-reminder that pushing aside procrastination and fear leaves room for magic to happen. Thank you!

  • 1Fever

    This is a great article I have been wavering in my work out and diet and it has inspired me to continue to do something. Also, thanks a lot for making me the Woot of the Week but it should go to my Soldiers and all of the people on sites like this bringing such great motivation. Woot to all of you and your goals!!!

  • http://www.ombailamos.com chacha1

    congratulation, felicitations, and mad props to you. You have a major achievement going there!

  • http://www.ombailamos.com chacha1

    Another really good one, Steve. Get some rest so you can enjoy the awesome adventures you are having!

    btw my two cents: the only thing you need a Finished Plan for is building a house.

  • Ben

    Thanks for the inspiring post, Steve. I often find myself holding to the “go big or go home” motto. If I don’t have time to do a full workout, I just won’t do anything.

    Rule #76 – No Excuses. Play like a Champion!!! Sometimes champions do a 30 minute body weight circuit. Other times bang out a few pushups when they get home before dinner.

  • Hans

    This is one reason why so many people are unsuccessful at their Big Box gyms. We are conditioned to believe that more is better. It also allows us to remove focus and intensity – which actually require more of a commitment.

  • http://whenitalkaboutrunning.wordpress.com/ Chris

    Awesome post — this philosophy got me from hitting the treadmill 15 minutes three times a week to running marathons! One other reason to “just do something:” once you’ve started, you just might finish the whole thing. How many times have I told myself, “I’m to tired for 30 minutes of weights, but I’ll do 20 pushups,” and then felt so good that I did the rest of my workout? Or thought, “I’m too tired for 6 miles, but I’ll run 3,” and after a mile been so invigorated that I did the whole 6? Inertia works both ways — once you get yourself moving, its so much easier to keep going.

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