Several years ago, while in the throes of having three little-littles, all of them toddlers, I made a decision to get up earlier than I normally did to workout. My rhythm in that season of life was to workout later in the morning, but that was cutting into a lot of time I wanted to invest in other areas. I figured if I had the workout already done in the morning, it would create so much extra time in my day.
It is so easy to make a “I-am-going-to-get-up-earlier!” decision during the day when you are wide awake. It seems so possible and obvious and even exciting. The commitment and resolve are high and it seems like a piece of cake. And then the alarm clock goes off. Where is the resolve and excitement and commitment now? Nowhere to be seen.
I remember the first morning of this new commitment. The alarm clock went off and the battle began.
Me: “What was I thinking? This is stupid. I don’t need to workout. It’s fine to do it later.”
Leading up to this moment, I had learned a lot about self-coaching and the power of the conversation we have with ourselves in our mind. We talk to ourselves all day long, most of the time not even realizing the thoughts and words and ideas we are creating and reinforcing.
Our thoughts are the greatest force in our lives. Nearly everything we observe in our circumstances can be traced back to a thought that led to an emotion that led to a choice that, when repeated, leads to habits that create our circumstance and shape our future.
Thought > Emotion > Choice > Habit = your life, your circumstance, your results, your future.
It does not seem possible that something as minute as a single thought can carry that much power, yet thoughts are the dividing line between success and failure.
“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” - Norman Vincent Peale
Ok, back to my early morning alarm clock going off and a “me versus me” battle in my mind unfolding. Who was going to win?
From lots of practice with self-coaching and capturing my thoughts, I learned a go-to question that I love and use often. In moments of frustration, confusion, challenge or struggle, It is effective for me to re-center myself and move forward.
It is simple a question: “Leah, what is your next best step?” That's it.
The simplicity and directness of the question helps me to recalibrate and take positive action.
So there I am in a warm bed, on a cold winter day, in the dark, talking to myself. I was battling between what I committed to do (get up and workout) and what I wanted to do in the moment (stay in bed and go back to sleep).
And then my trusty ole question came to me. “Leah, what is your next best step?”
“Get up and workout” was NOT the answer for me in that moment. I was not ready for that step. It was too big. I needed something small, something doable, a baby step, a micro-win.
Then it came to me: “Leah, just go pee.” That was it. Just go pee. So I got up and went pee.
As I was sitting there I asked it again, “Leah, what is your next best step?”
Working out was still NOT on the table. That still felt out of reach and negotiable.
Me: “Just brush your teeth.”
Me: “Ok, I can take that step.”
Me: (bruising teeth) “What is your next step?” (still did not want to say “workout”)
Me: “Put your workout clothes on. They are comfy enough to crawl back into bed so just put them on. It doesn’t mean you have to workout.”
Me: (putting clothes on) “What’s the next step?”
Me: “Put your shoes on. You can hang your feet off the bed when you get back in, no big deal.”
Me: (putting shoes on) “What’s your next, best step?”
And I was finally ready to go workout. The better version of my won the “me versus me” battle and I was off to conquer the workout.
Thoughts matter. Words matter. Questions matter. Your conversation with yourself matters. Right this very moment you are creating everything you will experience in your future. Choose wisely.
What is your next best step?