Take One Step, Then Another, Then Another: How a Big Decision is Made by a Thousand Small Decisions

Posted by | September 24, 2014 | Fit by Forty | 2 Comments
open road

It’s almost my 39th birthday: 45 more days.

Which means it’s almost my 40th birthday: 410 more days.

Which means my ‘Fit by Forty’ goal has to kick into high gear. Or higher gear at least.

When I started my ‘Fit by Forty’ plan last year, I pictured a slow and steady progression towards better health: every day I imagined I would look at myself in the mirror and smile and nod approvingly, watching my figure getting steadily slimmer, filled with inspiration to continue on my fitness quest. I imagined I would look back over all my runs with a twinkle in my eye, laughing at how I used to barely be able to run 5km, while I planned my next marathon.

I did not picture that, one year down the road, I would have made only a little progress. I think I’ve lost maybe 5 pounds, which works out to something like 1.8% of my body weight. Hm.

Still, I haven’t given up yet. On the contrary: as it has dawned on me how little progress I’ve made, I have actually strengthened my resolve. It’s made me realize that the goal was a bit more ambitious than I had previously imagined, and that I’m going to work a lot harder than I thought I was going to. I thought it would be a bit of a walk in the park to get fit over a period of two years: that after a bit of initial sweating, it would get easier and easier. Turns out, it’s going to involve a lot of sweating, and huffing and puffing, and generally feeling uncomfortable and outside my happy cozy squishy comfort zone.

The good news is that I am running again, after a bit of a hiatus. I’m back to running three times a week, without any skipping or excuses. My daughter, Zara, has run with me many times (she has a goal of increasing her cardio, which will help her dancing, so she wants to run as well) and that has been very fun and enjoyable and special. She is a lot like me in many respects: we can run 20 minutes together without saying a word, just huffing and puffing, but both of us are very happy with that. Of course, she’s fitter than me, so she has pushed the pace, and I’m very grateful to be challenged.

I’m also extremely pleased to have found that my consistent running is starting to make a difference. Not in my waistline yet – I look exactly the same – but in how fast and far I can run. Running hurts just as much as it always has, but I can actually go faster and further than I could before. So that’s nice.


I read a quote yesterday from Annie Dillard: ‘How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.’ It really resonated with me. The big ambitions and goals are rarely accomplished in a flash of inspiration and zeal and passion; rather, they are accomplished over and over, incrementally, in each small step that precedes the next one. A big decision is really the result of the culmination of countless other smaller decisions.

Each run I go on takes about 3,000 steps (give or take). That seems like a lot to count, one-by-one. And that’s just a short run, compared to what my beautiful wife does! I’m happy to take each step, because each step gets me closer.

I have about 150 runs to accomplish my ‘Fit by Forty’ goal. I can’t skip any: I’m going to need each one if I’m going to make it.

James Moffett

About James Moffett

I'm married to Janine and constantly amazed at her energy and enthusiasm, not only as it relates to her running! This year I've started to run again (after a long hiatus) as I pursue a personal goal to get "Fit by Forty". I'm a web designer by day and I'm the guy who makes this site work, and the guy to blame when it isn't working. I'm especially excited that Janine and I have been able to combine our interests (running and web design) for this site!


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