A Sure-Fire Way To Get You Started

I was all ready for action. But would I do it? Then there was a knock on my hotel door. When I opened it, I knew I could not resist. My heart sank. Here’s why.

I’m nine months into my new career, building a portfolio of activities I love doing. It has not been easy. I have felt real pressure. My health has suffered. Comfort eating, too quick to turn to a glass of red, and very little exercise. Totally my own fault. Here’s the thing. I have been shocked at how hard it has been to get back on track. Until my mate Dave gave me this insight:

We have to train ourselves to be brilliant at ‘starting again.’

My experience is this. The older you get, the harder it is to ‘get started again.’

For me anyway. I just cannot ‘get started’ or ‘get back on the right path’ as fast as I used to. It’s bewildering. I don’t get it. Here’s a story that shames me, but makes me smile at the fine example of weakness I have become. Have a read. There’s a powerful lesson in it.

I was in Auckland two weeks ago, with two hours spare before I was to give the closing keynote speech at a major conference. It was the perfect opportunity to go for a run. I needed it. Badly. I’d flown overnight directly from Bangkok, where two big days facilitating a company’s global leadership offsite surrounded by Pad Thai had done nothing for my waistline. My gym clothes had stayed packed.

Now I had the window to ‘get started’ again. I only needed one session to get the motivation pumping. I just had to get out the door. So, there I was, all kitted out in lycra, heart monitor on, Fitbit wristed, music ready to roll. As I prepared to exit for the Viaduct’s fresh air and adrenalin, there was a quiet knock at the door.

“Compliments of the management,” said the young man, handing me – wait for it, wait for it – and I tell you this with my hand on my heart …a cheese platter and half bottle of red wine.

What did I do next? Exactly what I did not want to. I closed the door, undid the wrappings, and 20 minutes later, had polished off the cheese, and the wine. Then I changed back in to my suit, had a coffee, gave my speech, ate ribs, drank beer, smoked a cigar, went to bed (after eating the chocolate on the pillow). Two weeks later, I still have not got started.

What the hell?

I told you there was a powerful message in this. Well, I lied. There’s no message – except a truth, and a plea for help.

The truth: I am weak and somehow lack the desire or resolve to sort myself out. But I have not given up!

The plea: Share with me please- how do you motivate yourself to ‘get started’ when you are failing, and letting yourself down? How have you trained yourselves to be brilliant at ‘starting again.’ Share- please. It can only do good. Thanks!

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51 Responses to A Sure-Fire Way To Get You Started

  1. Craig Badings June 8, 2016 at 10:06 am #

    In my experience there are two keys to this Chris:
    1. You have to make it a habit. When it is a habit you don’t think you just do.
    2. It helps to do it with someone – a trainer, your partner, a friend, a colleague – in my case my 05:30 wake up and walk/run 5 times a week is thanks to my two dogs. Without them I would also be tempted to eat cheese, drink more wine or sleep in.

    • Chris Savage June 8, 2016 at 1:41 pm #

      Thanks Craig!

  2. Liz Marchant June 8, 2016 at 10:11 am #

    A compelling issue and one that I struggle with.

    I spent the weekend at a workshop with the amazing Dr Libby wondering that exact question: why do we do what we do, when we know what we know.

    I then spent yesterday at a leadership retreat on mindful leadership where one of the readings highlighted the challenge around change – why is it that only 2 in 10 people make the required lifestyle changes following by-pass surgery.

    All of the signs in my life, including this blog, have me wondering the same thing.
    All of this combined has me currently highly mindful of this issue and therefore consistently making change. The only keys I can see at the moment – doing it, not waiting for motivation, no excuses – and constantly asking yourself the big question: Why do I do what I do, when I know what I know.

    Keeping a journal probably helps. Mine is simply a list: Keep (what should I keep doing), Stop (what should I stop doing) and Start (what should I start doing) – seems to be enough to keep me mindful for now.

    • Chris Savage June 8, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

      Thanks Liz- like the journal idea. I will give it a go!

    • Sarah Vivian June 21, 2016 at 11:27 am #

      A great response Liz to a thought provoking article. I have also recently started a journal/list of what I am doing (and should not be doing). So far it is working to keep me focussed and motivated. Great to hear that this works for you too. Thanks to you and Chris. Sarah

  3. Emma June 8, 2016 at 10:12 am #

    Your own (and Michelle Bridges) advice has always worked for me – “JFDI” 😉 Good luck!

    • Chris Savage June 8, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

      Thanks Emma- good reminder!

  4. Paul Alexander June 8, 2016 at 10:12 am #

    Chris, I can and will share with you how I overcome what engineers call “initial inertia” but it requires an in-depth response and more space… I owe you one so if you are interested, use the email herein to connect. Best, Paul A

    • Chris Savage June 8, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

      Thanks Paul- and will do!

  5. Michael Hyams June 8, 2016 at 10:27 am #

    Back in 2011 a very wise man told me the secret to motivating yourself… at the time he thought ‘JFDI’ was an excellent mantra. And he was spot on.

    • Chris Savage June 8, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

      Thanks Michael !

  6. Corina June 8, 2016 at 10:29 am #

    Chris, I love your posts. They give me a laugh first thing in the morning and your honesty is so refreshing in a world where so many people create ‘images’ on social media! I too am trying to get started – unsuccessfully. Today it was the choc fudge muffin with my coffee letting me down. But, no point regretting the treat. Dust off and try again with your next decision. I’ll make a healthy lunch choice instead. Constantly remembering WHY is the key for me. I want to get in shape and healthy so I have the energy to keep up with my young children and also to alleviate back pain. It’s too easy to forget good intentions when faced with instant gratification. After all, we can always start again tomorrow. A long hard look in the mirror – under bright lights – also doesn’t hurt! Getting started is the hard part but don’t give up. It’s a beautiful day in Sydney why not make a small positive start with a short walk or healthy lunch today?

    • Chris Savage June 8, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

      Thanks Corina- appreciated!

    • Susan June 12, 2016 at 7:17 am #

      I love your line – It’s too easy to forget good intentions when faced with instant gratification. So true. We want to feel good now ….. rather than thinking about the later consequences. Thank you!

  7. Amanda June 8, 2016 at 10:39 am #

    Chris, I can so relate to how you are feeling. I have been there only recently. How I pushed myself – I said it out loud to my partner ‘I just need to get started’ – he would then remind me when I challenged myself of not starting. It made me feel even more accountable once I said it out loud. The fact you have reached out and said it out loud to us (so to speak) is the start. I also try to think past the ‘now’ and think of the ‘after’ while I am challenging starting – “how good am I going to feel when I am done”, “once I have started, I have started”.
    You have the strength to do this, you have started over again before and succeeded. Remember that when you get the next knock at the door interrupting your fresh start – A simple ‘thanks but no thanks’ is all you have to say.. All the best – you can do it. Amanda

    • Chris Savage June 8, 2016 at 1:38 pm #

      Thanks Amanda- that’s good advice!

  8. Jonny June 8, 2016 at 11:09 am #

    where do you live? In Melbourne i’ll go for a run with you to get you started… you have helped me a lot over past months with the blog so something in return…

    • Chris Savage June 8, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

      Appreciated Jonny. When I know of my next trip I’ll be in touch and take you up on the run!

      • Jonny June 8, 2016 at 1:38 pm #

        Fantastic Chris I am looking forward to it…..

        • Chris Savage June 9, 2016 at 10:23 am #

          Thanks Jonny

  9. Dom June 8, 2016 at 11:16 am #

    Old skool analogue daily scoreboard. Keeping the score very visually on 5 goals. 10 new biz calls a day. 3L of water a day. Whatever it is. But here’s the trick: share your intentions with your family … and they each evening after dinner run through the day and update your scoreboard for you. Works a treat. Can send you mine.

  10. Jim June 8, 2016 at 11:29 am #

    Chris – I look at old photos of my ‘football face’ – plain and simple. I have a Senior Manager who also also has a polaroid of her size ‘high teens’ on her desk.
    Simple. Powerful.
    The fork in the road or the fork in the pasta?

    • Chris Savage June 8, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

      Love it! For me sadly it’s usually a fork in the vindaloo. Thanks Jim!

  11. Trish June 8, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

    Do a monthly challenge with a scoreboard on your wall or somewhere you’ll see everyday. And the key is to keep the challenge small. Like ridiculously small. So if you want to exercise, it could be 5 sit ups a day. Chances are that you will do more than 5. After all, you’ve already “paid the set up cost” by putting on your work out gear and all. Good luck!!!

    • Chris Savage June 8, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

      Thanks Trish- seems like ‘leeping a visible scorecard’ works for many. I will try that. Chris

  12. Richard Burrage June 8, 2016 at 12:45 pm #

    1) Think about who you don’t want to be. The last guy in the bar with cigar in hand?
    2) Getting started need not be arduous. Remember even if you only walk for five minutes. It is more than the guy you don’t want to be did!

    • Chris Savage June 8, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

      Thanks Richard. Good image for the mind!

  13. Henry June 8, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

    I think honesty is important. Being 100% honest with yourself about what you are doing, and how that is impacting your life is a great place to start.

    Asking the right question will licit the truth (in any situation) –

    Q) ‘Am I doing everything I possibly can to ensure that my body and mind are operating at their full potential?’

    Q) ‘Is my current behaviour in alignment with my health/professional goals?

    If the answer is ‘NO’ for any derivative of the above questions; the next question should be: what can I do right now to fix it?

    • Chris Savage June 8, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

      Appreciated Henry. Honesty with myself has not always been a forte. Chris

  14. Richard de Crespigny June 8, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

    – The WHY is important. Without the WHY you need to get fit, there will be no motivation.
    – I wear running gear when in the hotel. It puts me into a running frame of mind.
    – Don’t have breakfast in the hotel. I have a coffee, breakfast or shopping reward at the end of the run. It gives me an endorphin high and so motivates me to get out the next day.
    – I run-stop to keep my heart rate manageable and to not hurt. This lets me enjoy the run.
    – Find a great place to run. i.e The “Tan” (Melb), River (PERTH)
    Best wishes r

    • Chris Savage June 9, 2016 at 10:24 am #

      Thanks Richard. Great to hear from you. Chris

  15. Ross Clennett June 8, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

    Hi Chris, my recommendation is to read Switch: How to change things when change is hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath it’s excellent in addressing exactly what you (and me and many others!) find so challenging. It’s a very entertaining and enlightening read. Cheers, Ross

    • Chris Savage June 9, 2016 at 10:24 am #

      Thanks Ross- I just ordered it! Thanks for the tip. Chris

  16. The Desinator June 8, 2016 at 2:13 pm #

    Chris, just get off your fat a— and do it! X

    • Chris Savage June 9, 2016 at 10:23 am #

      Stay calm Desinator. You have always been jealous of my fine figure- I know. Chris

  17. Craig Charnock June 8, 2016 at 5:53 pm #

    Hi Chris.

    1. The toltec shamans spoke of using “death as your advisor” and a book called “The Tools” by two psychologists called phil stutz and barry michels refer to it in the fifth tool as “jeopardy”.

    Basically you need to start becoming much closer to your death. Its going to happen. Sooner than later. Most of us are closer in years to death then we are to birth. Thats a reality that’s petrifying and usually we avoid that or smaller, far less important fear through comforting ourselves with bad habits.

    But it can actually be used as a massive source of energy and inspiration to live life fully NOW whilst you have it. It puts things in perspective quite quickly and motivates very well for better decisions.

    Perhaps i should leave it to you to get the book or google the concept …


    2. And Love life (yourSelf). Even when you feel like you failed. Beating yourself up will prob lead to thesame cycle compared to a compassionate forgiveness and intention/action to make a different choice next time.

    3. There is a part of you that rates cheese and wine as far more comforting than exercise. Honour that voice. Get to know it. Seek what it really wants. Then stsrt to use affirmations, NLP or just self-dialogue to honour, listen and reward oneself gently for making positive changes.

    Otherwise just see number 1 above 😉

    • Chris Savage June 9, 2016 at 10:22 am #

      Brilliant! Thanks Craig darling.

  18. Gav Stewart June 8, 2016 at 8:42 pm #

    I use a traffic light system for training/excercise in my outlook calendar. Set it to yellow or when you plan to do it, or whatever colour you use for your must do activities in your calendar. Then set it to green when it’s DONE! Set it to red when you didn’t quite get there. Check it out at the end of the week and look at the lovely fields of green you have created. It makes you feel good! Give it a shot and JDFI

    • Chris Savage June 9, 2016 at 10:25 am #

      Thanks Gavin- will do!!

  19. Rambo June 9, 2016 at 12:43 am #

    What’s your postal address?
    I’ll send you a little something, that you can use as a visual tracker to stick onto your fridge.

    • Chris Savage June 9, 2016 at 10:25 am #

      Thanks Rambo. POBox 592, Crows Nest 1585 NSW Australia. Chris

  20. Dave June 10, 2016 at 7:54 pm #

    Have you been since? Have you started again?

    • Chris Savage June 11, 2016 at 10:49 am #

      Well, Dave, I have got started…thanks to you and your sage advice! Chris

      • Dave June 12, 2016 at 8:11 pm #

        Well done. I knew it – you sell yourself short. I doubt there’s a ‘guaranteed sure fire secret of success’. After all even olympian’s miss training sessions. If we define our success by never missing a session we’re all abject failures (and stupid for setting a goal we’re guaranteed to miss). You started again and that’s success. Well done! Next time you stop, you know that you’re good at starting again.

  21. Susan June 12, 2016 at 7:20 am #


    We are but human…. and every day you win some and you lose some. But every day is a new day to try again. Thanks for your post. I think the endeavour to get back on track keeps us going.

    • Chris Savage June 13, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

      Thanks Susan!

  22. Dan August 6, 2016 at 11:13 pm #

    First step is to congratulate yourself on identifying you need to change. That is the first step forward. Looking hard at the mirror is not easy to do.

    Next, you need to approach the change you wish to make like you advise your clients. Be a coach to yourself. Work on the weaknesses as much as playing to the strengths.

    Have clarity of vision on the “why”? Why did you choose to eat cheese and drink wine instead of going for run? It’s because you saw more benefit and short term enjoyment than the benefit of better health and long term sustainable lifestyle. What is most important to you in the now?

    • Chris Savage August 8, 2016 at 10:41 pm #

      Thanks Dan!!

  23. Mike Baker March 30, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

    One word: DISCIPLINE

    • Chris Savage April 5, 2017 at 5:33 pm #

      Thanks Mike

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