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Get Your Motivation Moving with Small Steps

I’m out of shape. The scary part is that the men in my family don’t have great genes. Based on my father, uncles, etc, “middle age” for me will be about 29. I need to get motivated to exercise.

You’re probably thinking “this has nothing to do with productivity or the law.” But isn’t motivation a key to productivity? And don’t lawyers have to be productive? See, it all ties together.

Do you have something you’ve been putting off? Final exams, perhaps? That healthier lifestyle you’ve been talking about since January?

Let’s get motivated!

Now I’ll burst your bubble. I don’t have a great trick to help you find that initial burst of motivation. Honestly, you’ve just got to get up and move.

But, you only have to take a small step. That’s right, get up off the couch and take one step.

Once you take that first small step, go sit back on the couch. Now, get up again and take two steps. Sit back down.

Keep repeating this process. Each time you get up (or work on that goal) only focus on getting a little farther than you did before.

Small steps are the key! If you decide, “I’m going to run a marathon,” you can’t just run 26 miles tomorrow. You’ve got to start off very small. Your ultimate goal can be 26 miles, but each day’s goal should only be a small improvement over the previous day.

I biked 7 miles today!

Since I want to exercise, I’ve been trying to get back on my old, hand-me-down, purple, girl’s mountain bike (no joke – it’s purple).

Fortunately, Leo inspired me by riding 10 miles on his own bike. I thought, “I should get out and enjoy this beautiful Virginia spring.”

Saturday I almost gave myself a stroke riding about 2 miles. Sunday I came home exhausted after 3-4 miles. Today, I got home and realized I rode 7 miles. And my goal was just to go farther than before. Maybe tomorrow I can match Leo’s 10. :)

The point is that I’m focusing on small steps. I’ve made this a mini-game with myself. I’m determined to do better than yesterday. That’s it.

What is your small step?

Now think back to that nagging goal or project you’ve put off. Come up with one small step you can take within 24 hours. Don’t just put it on your trusty GTD action list. Go do it!

But in the mean time, let’s talk about here. Maybe we can help each other move closer to a goal. 294 minds (according to FeedBurner’s counter!!) are better than 1.

[tags]motivation, lifehack[/tags]

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14 Responses to “Get Your Motivation Moving with Small Steps”

  1. Leo
    April 25th, 2007

    Great job Andrew! I laughed out loud about the “middle age by 29″ comment. But you’re right — small steps is the way to start. You’ll be laughing at my paltry 10 miles pretty soon.

  2. Pro Se Thoughts
    April 25th, 2007

    Andrew, I wasn’t ready for this in the morning! Thanks a lot.

    Prior to having to sit at my desk for 18 hours a day, working on my cases, I was losing weight and had lost 57 pounds. In my regular life as an artist, I had taken up belly dancing to lose weight and to “look the part” of an artist. I even kept a journal and progress pictures. My best friend was my coach, but he doesn’t know I slacked off and hopefully he won’t find this post. All that took a back burner to learning law.

    Now, the pounds are creeping back on. I’ll use your post as a small step to getting back on track. I had planned on adding a new feature to my blog about “looking the part” for law. Like it or not, people in business are treated differently if they are overweight or not dressed for the role they play.

    I walked into the court as a pro se litigant, not dressed up and I was treated like a common person. I went to the same court, decked out like what a lawyer would wear, and the same guards called me “counsel” and treated me differently. Same pro se person, but they thought I was a lawyer. The thing is, I felt far more confident being dressed up than just wearing a regular dress.

    I guess I need to get busy again and put one of my goals on my blog, that is, to get in shape and take law seriously in every area, including my attitude and the way I look. I also noticed I’m respected more when I look nice. Thanks for the rude awakening that my weight was creeping back on. hahahahah

  3. Alberta
    April 25th, 2007

    Out of shape…baby steps….just get started…motivation will come after you it a habit…

    All these ran through my mind when I read your entry. For me, I find certain projects/next action/tasks easier to do in certain seasons.

    I really enjoy purging files and re-configuring my file drawers during the winter. That’s just too heavy duty for a nice spring day when I’d rather be outside pulling weeds, restaining the fence etc. I’ll walk on the treadmill during not so nice weather but on a sunny day, let me outside for that walk or bike ride.

    I can switch it up with the right motivation or deadline, but if I have a choice…I don’t. Maybe I need to re-read GTD and get those 2 minute next actions done!!

  4. Andrew Flusche
    April 25th, 2007


    I don’t know that I’ll be laughing at 10 miles, but maybe I can make it that far without keeling over. Regardless, today’s goal is: a bit farther than yesterday. :)

  5. Andrew Flusche
    April 25th, 2007

    Pro Se,

    You’re absolutely right that we’ve always got to “look the part.” As you’ve found out, our attire speaks volumes about us, and it’s often the first impression people have. Why not knock ‘em dead with your snazzy outfit? ;)

    As for exercising, you deserve a break from your desk and the law. Go out and enjoy the weather or hop on a treadmill and watch a fun TV show.


  6. Andrew Flusche
    April 25th, 2007


    I’m exactly the same way – different tasks for different seasons. I think it’s pretty natural, really.

    Here’s an idea – make it a contest with yourself. Bet yourself how many 2-minute actions you can get done in 15-20 minutes. If you make it a game, it’ll be fun to do. :)

  7. Arstan
    April 25th, 2007

    Agreed on the post, I myself need some exercise to be done.

  8. Alberta
    April 25th, 2007

    The challenge idea did spark me into action, especially for those 2 minute of less actions.

    As to middle age…I think I’m there, but I may be a bit young still. Dad is 81 and his mother was 96 when she passed. I do think it’s all in your head…you are as old as you fell and act, so every now and then I have cookies for breakfast just like a 2 year old! So there!

  9. Andrew Flusche
    April 25th, 2007


    That’s great!! I’m glad you were able to knock out some of those small, nagging actions.

    And we’re definitely as old (or young) as we want to be. I love cookies for breakfast! ;)

  10. [...] PRODUCTIVITY: What is the one small step you can take within 24 hours? http://www.legalandrew.com/2007/04/24/ get-your-motivation-moving-with-small-steps/ [...]

  11. [...] thank you for inspiring me to ride my bike again.  Your post about bicycling to work has had an incredibly [...]

  12. [...] James takes a mathematical formula that describes procrastination and uses it as a launching point for a nice discussion of how to overcome the tendency to procrastinate. Get Your Motivation Moving with Small Steps [...]

  13. [...] to my RSS feed.Or, you can get free email updates.Thanks for visiting!Do you ever have problems getting motivated? I sure [...]

  14. [...] been facing one of these decisions all weekend. My bicycling hobby took me to the local bike shop. They kindly told me that it would take $320 to fix up my old bike. [...]

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