Bold In The Cold

“You’re really going out in this?”

In case you didn’t recognize her voice, that was my wife Linda talking, questioning the wisdom of my going out running this past Monday morning. There was about a foot of newly fallen snow on the ground and it was approximately 12 degrees Fahrenheit outside (that’s 3,600 cubic hectares, for those of you on the metric system).

But it was my day to run. So I laced up my shoes, put on every piece of clothing I own, and out the door I went.

I should point out right about here that I hate the cold. Despite having lived in the Northeast my entire life – including college in Montreal – I start shivering in October and don’t stop until April.

Yes, there are moments here and there where the sun is shining, the snow is glistening and the dog is romping, where I look around and appreciate the frigid beauty of it all. But for the most part, every autumn, I seriously consider a temporary move to Australia.

And that, I’m pretty sure, is my point.

On any given winter day, I’d rather not run then run. I’d rather stay warm inside. I’d rather sleep a little longer. But I do it because I know, without doubt, that if I’m out there regularly, good things will result.

As a business owner, your life operates in much the same way. There are many, many “wintery days” where it would be easier to just stay in bed … days where the world outside looks pretty cold and you wonder what difference it makes anyway.

That’s why I think of building a successful business the way I do exercise: It’s not any given day that matters – it’s the accumulation of many days that makes the difference.

Three year-end recommendations, therefore, from the icy world of winter running:

  1. Never decide in the morning. There’s no way I’d ever wake up, look out the window and think to myself, “Hmm… 12 degrees and snowy? Perfect time to get outside.” Instead, I decided long ago when I’m going to run. On those days, I just go.

    Likewise, your business will have days where it seems kind of pointless. If you wait until then to commit to a project or a newsletter or a web site, you’ll never do it. Decide now, with all of 2011 still in front of you, what you’re going to accomplish. Then stop deciding.

  1. Remember the two-minute rule. The worst part of running in the cold is getting started – the first two minutes. After that, even on a really cold day, it just isn’t all that bad. So I tell myself that the first two minutes “don’t count.” After that, if I’m too cold, I’m allowed to go home. (No, it’s never happened.)

    New projects feel the same way; it’s the starting that’s the hardest. Try this: Tell yourself that you’re going to devote just 10 minutes to something new or scary (set an alarm). After that, feel free to stop for the day. If you’re like me, you’ll go way past the timer and then be off and running.

  1. Burn some ships. Now that I’ve told you that I run in the cold no matter what, it’s much harder for me not to run. Too many people know about it.

    Telling people about your new business goals and projects works the same way. The more people you tell, the harder it will be to show your face if you never get around to it. So share your big plans with a bunch of friends and colleagues – then benefit from the social pressure of not wanting to look like a lazy fool.

Bottom line. As I write this, there are 33 hours left in the year. I’ve got some BIG things I’m working on for the next one and I have no doubt there will be days (weeks) where it all seems like a bad idea. But foul weather or not, I’ll be out there every day, running right beside you.

See you in the snow!

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