Do you know that adage that says something like, “The journey of one thousand miles starts with a single step”? The basic premise is you can go a long way over time if you do small things today. I put it a different way. There’s a term I use that’s very helpful to me personally and to those I counsel with. It’s the term baby steps.
In therapy, baby steps are the small increments (steps) of simple, doable (baby) things that a person can do to get better. They are realistic and attainable. Not single steps of one thousand miles but but single steps toward on thousand miles. Baby steps are the way you change your habits and your life slowly and steadily.
The world says you have to take thousand-mile leaps in order to be successful. God knows better. He knows we learn incrementally and that understanding is a journey.
In Romans 12:2, Paul talks about this incremental change when he says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” He doesn’t say your mind will be transformed in one fell swoop. He says transformation is a process and renewal is a life journey.
After all, it was God who sent His people on a little journey for 40 years in the wilderness, truly a thousand-mile journey made up of single steps. Was all that wandering a waste of time? N0. During the journey the people of Israel learned about God, and they learned about themselves.
Similarly, in order to achieve your thousand-mile destination, your body designed by God, you need to accept that you’re on a journey. The journey itself is not a waste of time because along the way you’re going to learn about God, and you’re going to learn about yourself. Do not despise God because He’s asking you to take baby steps toward your destination instead of miraculously transporting you there in one fell swoop.
Too often we focus on the destination and not the journey. “One thousand miles!” you say. “That’s too much!” It’s not as much as you think. I run an average of 20 miles per week. At the end of the year, that’s just over one thousand miles. And how do I run those one thousand miles? One step at a time. It’s not my “goal” to run one thousand miles a year. Rather, my goal is to get outside, enjoy the day, and get some physical exercise. The one thousand miles is a result of something I enjoy doing. Your own journey of one thousand miles can also be the result of something you enjoy doing.
Wait. I know what some of you are going to say. “But I enjoy sitting and watching television.” True; so do I, but that’s not the only thing I enjoy doing. The good news is you can take those baby steps along your journey in a myriad of different ways. By praying and looking and accepting yourself, you can find the steps that you enjoy.
Not everyone likes to run. If you don’t, that’s okay; it’s not a requirement for good health. You’re not defective if you don’t like to run. You’re not going to fail to meet your goals if you’re not out there running 20 miles every week. The beauty of this body God designed for you is that it responds very well to everyday, moderate physical exercise.
Simply be physically active. Does it mean you have to go out tomorrow and run 20 miles? No. Does it mean you need to find ways in your daily life to increase your physical activity? Yes. You cannot achieve the health benefits you desire without physical activity and exercise. Remember, God designed your body to be physically active. And the beauty about God is that the more you study about this body He gave you in relation to physical exercise, the more benefits you’ll learn.
Please also know that it’s not too late – once a couch potato, not always a couch potato. You are not destined to grow roots out of your eyes. Just get up off the couch and move around.
One of the most heartening areas of research shows the benefits of physical exercise fore those who are sedentary. According to the American Heart Association’s Statement on Exercise: Benefits and Recommendations for Physical Activity Programs for All Americans, “The greatest potential for reduced mortality is in the sedentary who become moderately active.” If you get up off the couch, you will reap incredible health benefits, and doing it doesn’t involve running a marathon!