Peak Performance | Get Unstuck

In this piece from Mountaineer magazine, learn to create momentum with five-minute actions.
Courtenay Schurman Courtenay Schurman
May 21, 2022
Peak Performance | Get Unstuck

If you’re like me, you might have some important goals in mind for this year. Perhaps you’re not quite sure how to get started on them. On my blog at, I recently shared how using five-minute actions can be a fantastic trick for getting yourself unstuck.

What does a five-minute action do?

A five-minute action is a small step that helps create forward momentum. The saying goes, “No one climbs Everest in a day,” and that’s certainly true. If you’re feeling daunted by a big goal, ask yourself, “What five-minute action could I do to get one step closer?” Consider the many steps (literally and figuratively) required to get to any summit. You must gain skills needed to travel safely over snow. Find climbing partners. Request a permit from the right organization. Acquire the necessary gear. Do sufficient physical conditioning. And learn about the route and current snow and weather conditions.

The list can seem daunting, at times insurmountable. But by first listing all the actions you need to take, and what skills you need to acquire, you can identify small steps you can take today to move closer to your goal. Like registering with a guide service for your climbing date, or calling a few friends who might want to go with you. By taking a five-minute action, you get momentum behind you. You become inspired. You get energized, and the collective energy propels you forward.

Five-minute fitness actions

This idea works with my personal training clients, too. If you’re having trouble committing to an entire strength workout or a long walk, instead, consider what you could do in just five minutes. Set out your workout clothes (bonus points for putting them on). Fill your water bottle with ice. Call a friend to meet at the trailhead. Walk out to your mailbox… then keep going. Show up at the gym and do your warm-up or a few stretches.

What would happen if you committed to just five minutes the next time that you’re thinking of backing out of your workout? By setting your intention and starting, you overcome inertia and create forward momentum. Try it, and promise yourself: “If I’m not feeling up for it after five minutes, I can stop.” By the end of that time, nine times out of ten you’ll keep going as you’ve already done the hardest part - showing up.

When to use five-minute actions

Everything worth doing has some five-minute action associated with it. Can you take five minutes to schedule an hour of quality time with your spouse or child? What about emailing an accountability partner who will help you stick to your workout goals? Would it help to have a guide service send you climbing information you could post at your desk for motivation?

Anyone can find five minutes. The key is to do so consistently. Move forward, even if it’s just a few steps every day. The small steps accumulate, and sometimes they grow into ever-larger chunks of time. Once you get started, the hardest part is over. Since you’ve invested a little time, energy, or money, you will be much less likely to quit. Remember, the goal is not perfection. The goal is to get unstuck and get moving in the right direction. Five minutes at a time.

Courtenay Schurman is an NSCA-CSCS certified personal trainer, Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certified Nutrition Supercoach, and co-owner of Body Results. She specializes in training outdoor athletes. For more how-to exercises or health and wellness tips, visit her website at or send a question to

If you’d like more ideas on how to get unstuck, subscribe to Courtenay Schurman’s free weekly blog at

This article originally appeared in our Spring 2022 issue of Mountaineer Magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, visit our magazine archive

Photo by Tim Nair.

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