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The fallacy of the pause button; or, how to start by getting started.

I’ve been wanting to write a post about the “pause button” mentality for a while – you know, that feeling that it has to be the absolute, perfect, right moment before you can get started on anything. But of course, you know...I was waiting for the right time.

(I think I’ve just found my new definition of irony.)

The “pause button” mentality is a symptom of “all-or-nothing” thinking: that everything has to be perfect, that all the stars and planets must align, before we can even take the first step. Unfortunately, while we’re waiting for it “all”, what we usually end up with is - “nothing”.

The “pause button” can take a variety of forms.

Maybe it’s timing: when we get back from vacation; when the kids are back in school; when we get through the holidays.

Maybe it’s time: it’s just so busy at work right now; the kids’ schedules are crazy; Mom has all these doctor’s appointments coming up. **(More on this later!)**

When it comes to taking that first step toward improving your health and fitness, we turn to bad timing, a lack of time and a whole list of other things we need for our “perfect start”: “I need a new pair of sneakers, and some workout clothes, and a FitBit; and I don’t have the equipment I need to work out at home, but I need to lose 20 pounds before I can go to the gym!”

But, man! Once my schedule is clear and I have all that time and all that gear, I can get started, ‘cause it will be perfect!

Uh, no. Sorry, your life will still be your life, with all its imperfections. And if you’ve waited to take any action – even one action – toward your goal, got nothing.


But I don’t know where to start!

Starting is scary; we see the whole, long journey toward our ultimate goal, and it can be overwhelming. That’s why we need to break it down, into the smallest possible action items. Ask yourself: what is one thing that I can do, consistently, that will create progress to move me toward my goal? (Not thinking about it, researching it, ruminating on it – actual action!) Then ask yourself: is this something I’m confident I can do (an 8 or 9 on a 1-10 scale), consistently (80-90% of the time)? If not, break it down into something smaller, until you get to those levels.

Then start doing it.

It may be putting 1 sugar instead of 2 in your coffee, or lacing up those old crappy sneakers and going for a 5 minute walk.

Or sitting down, and putting pen to paper.

Start wherever you are. Use whatever you have. Do whatever you can.

There is no pause button. The best time to start was yesterday; the second best time is today.


**It’s about time**

Almost everyone says they are too busy and don’t have enough time. But we’re all living with the same 24-hour clock – how do you choose to use yours? Try making a time diary, to see how your schedule aligns with your priorities. Use pen and paper, a spreadsheet, an app or this worksheet to track how you spend your day, in 15-to-30 minute intervals. Then take an honest look at how you spend your time. How much time you do spend on your top life priorities? (And if you’re not sure what those are, maybe spend some time thinking about them.) What are your “time-suckers” - things that take up time but don’t really benefit you? Could you make a small change, to add a few minutes of something important while removing a few minutes of something unimportant?


If you could use some help getting started on your journey to better health and fitness, please reach out to me through my website or through Facebook. I have been where you are, and would love the opportunity to take that first step with you!

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