TODAY IS THE FISRT DAY OF SPRING 2017. A perfect day to begin work on reaching a challenging goal that’s been put off for later, time and again. To initiate forward movement where before there was none, Niklas Goeke’s article, “How to Stop Procrastinating-A Lesson from Professor Lupin; What Harry Potter Can Teach You About Productivity" might provide a push. It was recently featured on Medium.com’s Personal Growth page.
At first glance it’s self-help lesson that has a great hook if you’re a fan of the JK Rowling book series about wizards and witches. The piece offers advice on how to stop dreaming about fulfilling ambitions and start working towards the reality. But, as with other aspects of life, this one can be applied to running or exercise training.
To clarify, there are would-be-runners who just cannot seem to take the first step toward becoming a runner. And there are runners who wish to become stronger, faster, and less prone to injury, yet each week goes by and training has not begun. Included are runners who seek to gain proficiency in a cross-training activity or another sport, but have made no moves to expand their physical capabilities and exercise interests. Each group faces the prospect of starting out on a daunting journey.
Goeke indicates that, “fortunately, the solution to dealing with daunting projects is the same as what Professor Lupin taught us about handling a boggart”. For those of you who cannot remember, a boggart is a wretched magical creature that hides in closed dark places and, when discovered, assumes the form of the entity most feared by the finder. For Ronald Weasley it was a giant hairy spider; for Neville Longbottom it was Professor Snape.
The author takes readers through the spell that helps to render a boggart harmless. First, we are instructed to laugh at the scary creature/goal, imagining it to be ridiculously un-scary and easy to defeat/achieve. Then, he says, apply the “2 Minute Rule” introduced by James Clear, which Goeke explains. Work at a task that moves you toward the goal for two minutes. He says “technically” you’re only obligated to make a solid effort for 2 short minutes. But once started you can continue working as long as you wish.
This “2-minute rule” equates to the part of the Hogwart’s professor’s spell which requires performing a specific wand motion and making the incantation “Riddikulus”.
For hope-to be-runners this task could be walking out the door and running 2 minutes. Or searching the internet for a training program, registering for a goal race, or getting fitted for running shoes at a specialty store. For just 2 minutes.
For wanna-be cross-trainers/triathletes, it might be getting on a spinner cycle at the gym, easing into the pool, or joining a swimming lesson session. For just 2 minutes. For strength trainers, it’s picking up dumbbells and going through one set of unfamiliar moves. For just 2 minutes.
Once started on the first task of the larger goal, with a limit placed on expended time, we may become caught up in the work. Laughing at the ridiculously small bit of work we carved out for this simple small effort, distracted from the boggart we feared, we can start to climb the huge mountain of accomplishments that lead to the summit dream.
I set out to expand my athletic capabilities and take up the sport of tennis early last month, in February. The thought of buying ‘gear’ (non-running shoes, unfamiliar skirt-like clothes, balls, beginner racket) was causing me to keep putting it off. Like bathing suit shopping. Not to mention I was almost paralyzed by the prospect of finding a nearby affordable club and lessons. This was going to be expensive. I had managed a call to one coach and was put off, and that experience provided an excuse to stop looking.
By chance in mid-March I drove by another club that advertised low cost lessons, turned the car around, and signed up immediately. I started lessons the next week. Each step was difficult and I had back-up reasons ready to avoid moving forward.
But the coach blocked all my wimpy worries with reassurances, said I didn’t need any gear or equipment, only to show up. And lesson slots were available throughout the day and evening. Me, laughing nervously: “I can do that!” And then I did it. Boggart gone.
I still have an available stock of excuses for avoiding each practice or lesson. But, every small step forward seems almost ridiculously easy compared to the initial one of finding a club and coach within my budget.
It took about 2 minutes to pull into the club parking lot, walk in, and ask to meet with the tennis pro. No kidding.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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