What Are You Waiting For?

by DavalosMcCormack on August 25, 2009

I see him every so often, standing at the bottom of the hill, swinging his arms around in lazy circles, bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet and shuffling around in odd, uncoordinated ways. Every so often he glances up at the hill as if he’s trying to will himself to begin. And yet, somehow, he never does.

At least I’ve never seen him run up and down or even walk up and down. I’ve been watching this gent for a few years now; sometimes he’s there when I’m heading off to work, sometimes it’s when I’m heading off for a run myself. But each time it’s the same. He crouches and bounces, shuffles and shimmies, but he never –  he never actually runs or even walks up the hill- at least while I’m watching.

It’s like watching those people on the edge of the ocean, who are all ready to go for a swim except for one minor problem, they can’t bring themselves to go in the water! They stand there on the sand, every once in a while taking a few, tentative steps into the water and then back out again, shivering or shrieking or both. Sometimes they’ll get in, sometimes they’ll just head back to the shelter of their umbrella.

And always I’m left with the thought, ‘What are you waiting for?”

Getting started is not always easy, but it doesn’t get any easier by delaying it. I could understand the delay if you were doing something that required immense concentration, such as the pole vault, but if all you are doing is running or going into the water there really isn’t any huge amount of skill involved. Simply put one leg in front of the other and before you know it you are there.

Often the biggest barriers to starting are not the physical ones but the mental ones. We create obstacles in our mind that we have to continually overcome before doing something we are not particularly looking forward to. You might not feel like getting up and going for a run on a cold, wet, dark, winter’s morning – let’s face it who would! – but lying in a warm bed is not going to make it any easier. You just have to decide is this something I am going to do. Not is this something I want to do, but is it something I am going to do.

For some people those self-erected barriers stop them even starting an exercise program. They’re waiting until they lose weight first, or they are waiting until they give up smoking, or they are waiting until the weather is better. And somehow the stars are never perfectly aligned and so they never quite get around to ever starting.

Growing up in England and Ireland I quickly came to realize that if I was going to wait for good weather before going for a run, or doing anything really, then I’d be waiting a long time. So, I got used to going out and doing what I wanted to do, rain or shine (usually rain or more rain).

Without being aware of it I learned that putting something off didn’t make it any easier, it just meant you wasted valuable time standing around trying to summon the energy or enthusiasm to start. And I learned that it didn’t just mean you were starting later, you were also finishing later. And in a country where the pubs closed at 11pm that was wasting serious time.

See, all you need is something to motivate you.

Now if we could put a pub or Peet’s coffee shop at the top of the hill, maybe that fella would stop wasting time and start moving.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

juana guevara August 25, 2009 at 9:57 am

thank you, thank you, thank you for the serious get off your butt talk….ok so I did it finally, I got on my bike and rode for 2 hours at Shorline….best two hours of my recent life…no worrying, just being, it was awesome…your blog is always fabulous!

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