There are things I do in life to help me achieve greater balance and joy. I call them my “practices” and they include exercise, tabla and meditation. Sometimes my practices are strong. Sometimes they get sucked into the black hole of Trying To Do All The Things.
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.
My client Julie van Amerongen is an entrepreneur doing good work in the world as Director of Programs and Events at Conscious Capitalism. She’s also a busy parent with an insane schedule. When three people she was close to passed away within short amount of time, Julie needed an outlet for her grief and sadness. So she decided to run one mile a day. Every. Single. Day. It’s a relatively short distance but huge in the sense of the commitment behind it.
Her new book, Every.Single.Day., put me back on track with my practices. I spoke with Julie recently about her journey and about the importance of having a practice.
I READ YOUR BOOK BEFORE I DESIGNED IT AND LOVE THE STORY BEHIND YOUR RUNNING STREAK. HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN FOCUS AND KEEP GOING?
This far in, there’s no question about not running. It’s like getting ready for bed at night. Brushing your teeth is not an option. You just do it, like clockwork, because it’s an ingrained habit. It’s a way of being. Running became that for me.
HOW HAS YOUR RUNNING PRACTICE MADE YOU A BETTER ENTREPRENEUR?
Running every day is like taking a handful of nature’s Prozac. It makes me feel energized, blows the cobwebs out and gets my brain moving. I get the best ideas when I’m running. My running practice is a personal experience, for sure, but I also become a better person in the process. I’m showing up better for my family, friends, customers and community. I’ve got more to offer because I’m taking care of myself.
LET’S TALK ABOUT RUNNING AND STRATEGY. HOW IS THIS TRANSFERRABLE TO BUSINESS?
Running requires all kinds of strategy. You have to write a training plan, stick to it, allow for “wiggle room” when life happens, get the right amount of sleep, nutrition, and hydration and have the right gear. Flexibility and adaption has to be a part of the plan. Taking steps to ensure success is the same in running as it is in business. You must be flexible.
WHY IS TRACKING PROGRESS IMPORTANT?
Think about the person who sets a New Year’s Resolution to lose 50 pounds. A few months, or even weeks, into the year and they’ve sputtered out. The goal was too lofty, too hard.
Everybody can take small steps towards a bigger goal. Everybody can find five minutes in their day to do something good for themselves. It’s easy to waste five minutes here and there checking your phone or scrolling through social media.
Tracking is a way to celebrate the small successes. It allows you to take tiny bites rather than a gigantic mouthful you can’t chew. You can see your progress and course correct as needed. It’s very motivational.
Tracking is a good way to take inventory of what you are actually doing versus what you think you’re doing. Get the actual data. Record it and compare it. Tracking can be a mirror to your life.
YOUR FIRST YEAR OF RUNNING RESULTED IN A BOOK. NOW THAT YOU’RE IN YOUR SECOND YEAR, WHAT’S THE GOAL?
My first year was all about getting out the door. I did some races but I didn’t set myself up for anything other than running one mile every day.
Running has now taken on a life of its own. I’m pushing myself towards bigger adventures. I’m running longer and faster and swapping out roads for trails. Right now I’m training for an ultra-marathon. If I had set this goal 700 days ago, I would still be on the couch.
And now running is just something I do every day.
Ready to whip your own practice into shape? Julie offers the following five tips:
- SMALL STEPS EQUAL BIG IMPACT
Do something small, every single day. It doesn’t need to be audacious to be important.
- YOU CAN DO IT
Your practice doesn’t need to be complicated, expensive or difficult. Dedicate five minutes a day to one simple thing.
- TRACK IT
Find a way that works for you, whether it’s paper, an app or a spreadsheet.
- DON’T DO IT ALONE
Ask for support from your family, friends and community. We all need cheerleaders.
Sharing your process and small victories can be of great service to others. Our personal experiences provide immeasurable value to those who may be struggling.
Having a daily practice can transform your life and business from slightly-stale to soul-satisfying. Even five minutes a day can make a huge difference. What’s your personal practice? Or what practice do you want to commit yourself to? Let’s chat about it in the comments!
The pictures in this post were taken by Julie van Amerongen. Check out her Instagram feed where she uploads a photo a day of her feet during their run. Or the Youtube Video of Julie’s first 365 days of running.