Over ten months ago, I made the decision to run at least one mile every single day. Essentially, it’s a trip around the block. My original commitment was to do it for 41 days, I just never felt like stopping. My goal is now to get to a year, but I don’t intend to stop then either.
It usually takes me about ten minutes to run a mile. A few days a week I run more than a mile, but the majority of the time, I just run my mile and call it good. I’ve logged well over 600 miles so far.
Update: I’m well over a year now, read this post for the latest.
A habit that takes up 10 minutes of my day, and it has literally changed my life. Because of my habit to run one mile a day I am more confident, more focused, more energetic. I accomplish more. I have more patience with my children and husband. I am more disciplined in other areas of my life. I can concentrate better at work. I eat healthier. I sleep better. And of course, I weigh less and wear smaller clothes.
One small, healthy habit, done consistently has the power to transform your life. What could you do, for just a few minutes a day that could move you from where you are to where you want to be?
It isn’t easy. Don’t let anyone fool you. Running is hard work, and doing anything every single day takes a whole lot of effort and discipline. Some runs are super fun and happy, even when they are hard, but other runs are just downright miserable and I hate every minute until I’m done. But I always do it anyways.
I’ve run through snowstorms, sleet, and three hours of non-stop rain. I’ve run with strep throat twice and the stomach flu. I’ve run through scorching heat and negative temperatures that froze my eyelashes. I ran the day my dad died. I ran the day after a very hilly and painful half marathon. I’ve run with pulled muscles and bruised feet.
Hard days are guaranteed to come. But we can do hard. Hard pays off in greatness, joy, abundance, and strength. You can change your entire life simply by implementing small, healthy habits into your everyday.
Running every single day has transformed my life in every area, it goes far beyond my physical abilities. How has this happened? Because it takes discipline to do something everyday for so long, it takes strength to go out for a run when you have a fever, it takes good scheduling abilities and organization to make sure I find the time (and clean clothes) to run everyday. I didn’t have great supplies of discipline, strength, and organization when I started this challenge, but the tiny act of calling upon them in small measure over and over again these past several months has allowed them to grow and expand in ways I never would have imagined.
I challenge you to consider one small thing you can do every single day that will be difficult, but good for you. Something that is out of the ordinary so you’ll have to get in your own head to teach your brain something new. Something that is largely just for you. Think about the things that are most important to you and pick something that will help you to indulge more in your highest priorities. Even the busiest person can find 10 minutes each day to do something new. Here are some steps to help you start your new habit well.
Find the right habit.
I just fell into the habit of running everyday. I didn’t know that run streaks were a thing until after I started. I’ve since learned that this is nothing new, there are some people who have run streaks that have lasted for over 40 years. For me, running everyday keeps me healthy, energetic, and allows me to reach my running goals, so it’s a perfect habit for me.
Think about some of the goals that you are trying to accomplish. What are the goals that are most important to you or that you are struggling with the most? What is one small thing you could do, every single day, that would help you move just a little closer to reaching your goal? Think of something that can usually be completed in ten minutes or less.
Here are some ideas to get your brain thinking:
Walk, bike, swim, or some other exercise everyday.
Read for 10 minutes each day.
Write for 10 minutes, or a certain number of words each day.
Pray for 10 minutes a day.
Read your Bible for 10 minutes a day.
Listen to music for 10 minutes a day.
Eat a salad everyday.
Drink a green smoothie everyday.
Drink a gallon of water each day.
Play with your kids for 10 minutes each day.
Call or text a friend everyday.
Write a short love note to your husband each day.
Pack your husband’s lunch each day.
Fold one basket of laundry each day.
Take a 10 minute nap, everyday.
The possibilities are endless. Think about the areas of your life that either need the most attention or that you are most passionate about and start there. Develop a small habit that can be kept up each and everyday.
The day I started my streak, one of my friends noticed and decided to join me. There is no way I would still be running every day if I didn’t know she was running too. We use the same app to log our runs each day and I always look for her runs to keep me motivated and help me remember that I’m not alone.
I also regularly share my runs on social media. I might annoy plenty of people, but there are plenty more who tell me they enjoy seeing my posts. It helps to inspire and motivate others. And when others cheer me on, it keeps me moving forward.
Once you’ve selected the habit you want to develop, you must find a way to hold yourself accountable. It isn’t enough to just rely on yourself and your own willpower. Find someone else to support you, cheer you on, and even do it with you on the really hard days. Trust me, you will need it.
Set a length goal.
Don’t commit to your new habit for life. Don’t even commit to your new habit for a year. Even something as small as ten minutes will feel like an impossible eternity some days. Give yourself a light at the end of the tunnel to keep moving toward. As you approach the light, feel free to stretch it farther. My original goal was 41 days, then 50, then 100, then I just wanted to make it to Christmas, then I said as long as I could keep it up over the winter, and now I’m striving to hit one year.
I’ve had several friends who have started their own streaks over the past several months. Some are still going, some have stopped. The point of a new habit isn’t always to do it forever, many times it’s just for a season. You might start a new habit for a two week season or a two year season or anything in between. Don’t stress about how long you will keep it up each day. Just take things one day at a time. Just do it today.
You really can change your life in just a few minutes a day. It won’t be easy, but nothing of value ever is easy. Take some time to consider what you can implement in your everyday life that will help you to build more discipline, strength, focus, organization, or any other skill you’d like to develop. Tell your friends, post about it in the comments here, get your kids involved, do whatever it takes to set yourself up to be successful. And then get out there, and change your life.
(This post was updated on 3/29/2016.)