J is for Just Do It

J

Whatever it is that you want to do, just go for it. Do it. Move. Take action. Stop talking about it and take that first step. Yesterday in my Trauma, Disaster, and Crisis Counseling class, we watched a video about the Oso landslide. We talked about the September 11 terrorist attacks, and Brussels, Paris, Turkey, Pakistan.

The take away from all of this? Life is short. Unexpected shit happens. Don’t put off until tomorrow (or someday) what you want to do now. Don’t listen to the naysayers, especially the one that is usually the loudest, the one in your own head that says “you’re too old, too broke, too tired, too fat, too busy, too whatever.”

No one is going to intervene on your behalf to suddenly make your dreams come true–or usually that is not the case. If you want to write a book, you’re going to have to sit down and write. Want to run a marathon? Gonna have to get out there and train. Have the urge to see the world? You must book the tickets.

I know taking that first step isn’t easy–if it were we would all be out there living our dreams, and I would have no justification for pursuing my dream of becoming a therapist–no one would need me if everyone just did what they wanted to do. But we don’t. We don’t just do it when we want to make positive changes, nor do we just stop doing the things that make us miserable. This Bob Newhart video is a classic and one of my favorites. If only it were this simple!neuralpathways

Instead we take the path of least resistance, living the status quo, afraid to rock the boat or upset the delicate balance. We live in fear, unable to extricate ourselves from what seem to be proscribed paths.

And, it’s not our fault. We are creatures of habit. We get used to doing things a certain way, and our brains form neural pathways, well-worn grooves that make our responses and actions more automatic. If we’ve developed a habit of getting up every morning and reading the news on the interwebs but what we really want to do is develop a morning meditation practice, we’re going to have to work at it. We’ll have to focus on retraining our brains to not reach for the laptop or the smartphone. Just like walking in the woods–it’s a lot easier to take the defined path than it is to bushwhack through the underbrush to get to our destination.

The good news is that we can build new pathways. Our brains can rewire, thanks to neuroplasticity.

It takes effort to forge new trails, but if the old paths don’t lead to where we want to go, we have to get out our machetes and go for it.

J is for Just Do It!

JI’m not a particularly big Nike fan (beyond their running app, which I live by), but I do like their “Just Do It” motto—I think that we’d all be better off sometimes if we stopped hemming and hawing, quit analyzing and crunching the data, gave our information-saturated brains a break, sucked it up and jumped in, feet first.

Do you want to start running? Are you unsure about where and how to begin? Do you have mysterious aches and pains? Do you worry you don’t have enough energy or the right clothes? Are you afraid of the rain, the cold, the sun, the heat?nike 1

Take the leap. There’s never going to be the perfect time, the perfect weight, the perfect weather, the perfect outfit, or the ideal body. We all have to start somewhere, with what we have. It doesn’t matter if we are waiting to write a book or begin an exercise regimen. If we wait until we have time or an office, the right shoes, or smaller love handles, well, we might never get started.

Begin at the beginning. Start where you are. I have a friend who wouldn’t start running because her shoulder hurt. And then her knee hurt. She chose to stay on the couch with an ice pack on instead of getting out there and moving. Until she didn’t. Until she got up and just went for it. The aches and pains vanished over time. She lost weight. Her mood improved. She joined a running group. Eventually she ran races and bought cool shoes.

2012 nike app
My runs, 2012

That’s the paradox. When we use our muscles, they feel better (or they hurt so good) because they were meant to move. When we write, we improve. With each mile we put on the pedometer (or Nike app, or FitBit or RunKeeper), with each sentence we get down, each paragraph we complete, our muscles get stronger, our prose improves, our ideas coalesce.

So, go for it. Just do it. You’ll be glad you did, and everything will fall into place, including those love handles.

My runs, 2015
My runs, 2015

Some places to start:
Fit School
Couch to 5K
Fitbit
Runkeeper
Nikeplus