How to Invite a MorningWalk Practice Into Your Day
I am often asked, “How do you do it every day? Where do you find the momentum?” I must admit that on that first walk years ago, I had no idea that I would still be walking every day. The desire then was more immediate, more urgent: to spend more time outdoors.
Years later, however, what I have realized is that the ongoing practice is where I have learned the most. There are subtle learnings that can only be understood over time. Also, now it is part of how I identify myself. I am someone who walks every morning. Much like someone who goes for a run most days a week defining themselves as a runner. I walk. It is a significant identification of who I am, so the idea of not doing it has overtones of betrayal. If I am a walker, I must go.
Here’s what I’ve learned about how to begin.
The Ground Work
1. Begin with something doable, in terms of time and distance. A walk around the neighborhood is a wonderful place to start. Find a way to make it possible. Start small and take the first step.
2. Repeat for 5 days.
3. Repeat again.
4. Find the places where it feels difficult and strategize around that issue. For me, when I wake up, for some odd reason, my feet always feel cold. It was a psychological deterrent in the colder months because my mind told me I was just going to get colder, more uncomfortable. So I found some super cozy slippers and socks to solve that issue. I also love hot tea in the morning, so I decided that it was when I walked in the back door home from a walk that I would fire up the tea kettle — not before. The space between waking and walking is a tender place. I needed tools, tricks, hacks, and solutions to make sure there wasn’t a reason to not go.
“To an astonishing degree, we’re influenced by the amount of effort, time, or decision-making required by an action. The more convenient, the more likely we are to do it; the more inconvenient, the less likely we are to do it.” — Gretchen Rubin
5. Find an anchor point to help get you going. Connect your new habit to an existing one, and that anchor that will trigger your new habit. An example of this would be to put a vitamin you take daily next to your mug that you use each morning for tea. The idea is to make the new behavior automatic.
6. Stay curious about what is possible. Be curious about what you might experience on this walk. Starting each day is a practice, and staying with it deepens what you observe about yourself and others.
7. Take care. Get some walking/running shoes and be sure to switch them out every 600 miles. Bring a whistle for safety and be sure to pay attention to the signals you are getting from your environment. Be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you are expected back. Stretch before/after, and put some chocolate in your pocket.
8. Success is in the habit, not in an outcome. When your thoughts say, “There is no way I can do that,” consider responding with, “But just imagine if I could”. There won’t be an immediate impact; just create the habit.
9. Get going and ask yourself, “What is the best that can happen?”
10. Relax and tap in to all of your senses. The sound of the city waking up, the smell of the pine trees, the dusty dust dust that gets in your shoes, the smell of the local bakery, the lights coming on in your neighborhood.
11. Give yourself a compliment. Every day. This practice is a lesson from one of my sons. We were out on the mountain one day, headed down a very steep hill, when I overheard what sounded like someone singing. When we got to the bottom, I asked him what was up. Was the melodic sound coming from him? Was he singing a school song? He replied, “Well, it was a little intimidating going down, so I decided to give myself compliments the whole way down.” I think it is a practice we could all embrace.
Libby DeLana is an award-winning executive creative director who has spent her career in the ad world. She started walking in 2011 and hasn’t missed a day since; as a result, she has walked the circumference of the earth. Her first published book is Do Walk: Navigate Earth, Mind and Body. Step by Step. You can connect with Libby on Instagram @parkhere or @thismorningwalk and www.ThisMorningWalk.com.