Three weeks ago, I found myself unexpectedly planted on my couch due to a self-inflicted fracture in my foot. During those first days, I spent countless hours feeling sorry for myself and feeling very angry about all the ways in which my life was suddenly limited. I am not a good patient due to my, well, impatience. I admit that it was kind of fun to whine and ask my husband to fetch various things for me, but it wasn’t too long before I was itching to move around on my own again.
In the grand scheme of things, my recovery period is not very long, but to me it seemed like an eternity. And the whole incident was made worse by the doctor’s words that kept ringing in my ears – “no running for two months”. Had I dwelled on those words, I would still be sitting on the couch today, crossing off the days on my calendar like a prisoner awaiting parole.
Fortunately I was able to embrace the second “S” of my VASSAD method, recognizing that Small Steps Add Up. (Yes, I know that the timing for this particular blog entry is perfect.)
I knew that the only way to get myself moving was to set a goal. In mid-June I am planning a trip to New York City with a friend. In case you haven’t been there, New York is truly a walking city, and I intend to hit those streets in a FULL PAIR of fabulous designer shoes. I will not limp across town like a zombie in one odd sneaker and my weird Frankenstein boot.
When I was first injured, I couldn’t focus on that trip because it was almost 2 months away. Might as well have been a year. So I created some small milestones to help get me there gradually.
Lose the crutches and get back to the gym in 2 weeks
My doctor told me it would likely be 1-2 weeks before I could bear weight on my foot. So on exactly day 10, I tossed the crutches aside and began walking with gentle pressure on the injured foot. I stopped going up and down stairs on my butt and started walking, one step at a time. After just a few days of practice, I was mobile without assistance. I returned to the gym last week and did my regular workout with just a few modifications. I also began training my clients again. Goal: Complete
Walk barefoot by week 3
I have actually been walking around the house barefoot for about a week, and I have been able to stand in the shower instead of sitting. Goal: Complete
Wear normal shoes by week 4, (but just for a little while)
A little bit ahead of schedule, today I squeezed my foot into one of my normal shoes (cute little teal ballerina flat – oh I miss my shoes so much). The swelling is gone, the pain is gone, and the color is almost back to normal. I had an appointment today that really called for 2 actual shoes. It was only for an hour, but I didn’t limp at all. Goal: Complete
Wear fabulous shoes on the streets of NYC by week 7
I have followed all instructions for my recovery, and I will be looking for the green light from my doctor at the end of next week. I am expecting him to say that I can lose the ugly boot thing and wear something much prettier on my feet. Goal: In progress
Although my condition has a short lifespan, applying the logic of “Small Steps Add Up” is relevant for working towards any type of goal, especially if there is a significant amount of behavior change required to get there. Lifestyle changes can take a long time to incorporate, and one of the biggest mistakes most people make is trying to change everything at once. Our brains are simply not wired this way, and attempting to make big sweeping changes can be quite overwhelming. It is also one of the top reasons people abandon their goals early in the process. Finding success in small milestones along the way will help to keep you motivated in the moment and leave you feeling more optimistic about the potential of actually meeting your bigger goal.
Here are a few more suggestions:
Keep it positive – Note that my goals referenced what I WILL do rather than what I won’t do. A positive spin makes you feel less deprived, and you can congratulate yourself with something nice when you have completed it. And don’t forget to announce it on facebook so that your friends can congratulate you too.
Setbacks are a fact of life – Obviously I don’t like setbacks, but I have learned to accept them and learn from them. In the months since I have launched my business, I have experienced a couple of big ones. They totally suck, but they do not have to be fatal.
One of my favorite quotes is: “The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.” I would add to that: “and then a whole bunch more single steps and eventually you will arrive at your destination”.
I know that when I arrive in New York next month, I will be taking many of those steps in a brand new pair of amazing shoes.