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October 24, 2003

"When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you
until it seems that you cannot hold on for a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."

-- Harriet Beecher Stowe
When I do my cardio exercises, I use a heart rate monitor to make sure I reach and stay within a specific target range for the duration of my workout. Knowing exactly where I am at any given moment helps me get the best results for the time and effort I'm investing.

When I first begin my swim, or my walk, it takes several minutes to get my heart rate up to the lower end of the target zone. I really have to push myself, and it seems to take forever for the number I'm looking for to appear in the little window on my wristband. Then, for those first few minutes that I'm in the "zone", it's a real struggle to maintain my effort and consistency so that my rate doesn't drop back down. Gradually, about a third of the way in, things begin to shift. My strokes or strides even out and lengthen, and I'm surprised when I check my heart rate to see that I'm at the higher end of my range. It feels like I'm getting better results with less struggle. I fluctuate between the feelings of pushing harder and gliding smoothly. The workout that felt like it was going to be an endless struggle turns into a satisfying experience.

So it goes with many other tasks. In a new project, the research, preparation, and ramping up activities often proceed at an agonizing snail's pace. There are false starts, deviations in focus, and suspensions to fine tune until things finally begin to come together. It feels like forever until you get to the juicy part. And, when it comes to recurring tasks, especially those that are boring or distasteful, the effort to begin feels like dragging ourselves out of a vat of molasses.

Once we do finally get started, though, the energy picks up. Each time, it's a bit easier to begin, and we reach cruising altitude a little sooner. It's a simple reminder of a deep life lesson -- action begets results. Within the struggle, we are still moving forward. Even if we don't yet feel it, the momentum is there. Sooner rather than later, as we continue our efforts, it WILL kick in. The key is to remain in motion.

By Nancy Birnbaum-Gerber, Professional Certified Coach
President of SteppingStones
Copyright 2003 by Nancy Birnbaum-Gerber
All rights reserved. Used with permission.
This week's notice:

1. Where do you have difficulty getting started or maintaining activity?

2. What's one thing you could do to keep yourself in action until you get to your "target zone"?

3. Who could you partner with to ensure getting started?

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