motivation in a calendar

I have a friend who keeps track of how many days in a row he runs over a mile. If he has an exceptionally busy day ahead, he plans a run around midnight so that he would have at least one mile on each side of the start of the new day. He kept his first run streak alive for well over a year, then when he missed a day, he started over again. I’m not sure where he’s at right now, but in November he posted on Facebook that he had run 574 days in a row. That is so impressive! I marvel at his commitment, and it has inspired me.

I live in Minnesota, and in the winter, I put my road bike on a stationary trainer and “ride it to nowhere”. I hate it. It’s boring and miserable. As a mom of two busy kids who also works full time, I knew that I’d be setting myself up for failure if I tried to shoot for a ride streak. Instead of trying to keep a streak going, I decided to set my own goal and my own way of tracking it. I thought I’d share it here for you, in case it helps you set a new routine and achieve a goal you’ve set for yourself.

I decided that my goal would be to ride my bike to nowhere on most days. That’s kind of a vague goal, I know, but I was shooting for 4/7 days per week. (I’m a realist, so I decided I’d forgive myself if I didn’t make the 4/7 during a week as long as I made up for it in following weeks and hit the bike most days of the month.)

I am a visual person so I needed a visual way to track my progress. I went online and found a free printable calendar that had the whole year on one page, similar to this one I designed for 2019:

On Task Calendar - Yearly

Then I got an ultra-fine tip marker in a super fun color and put a small X through the dates that I rode to nowhere. It was so satisfying to see the weeks and months fill with X’s, and it helped keep me motivated. Days without X’s stood out, and served as an in-my-face way to remind me I had missed a day or two… or three, and it was time to get back on the bike.

So, as we get ready to start a new year, rather than referring to our aspirations for change as “resolutions”, which have a reputation of failing after few weeks, let’s refer to them as “goals”. Then let’s measure and track our progress!

If my simple system fits for your goals, please feel free to download, print, use, and share the calendar I created to keep you on task. It’s yours! (If you have any trouble downloading it, just comment below with your email address and I’ll send it your way.)

2019 Printable Calendar

If my system helps you, I would love to hear about it! Or share the goal-tracking idea that has worked for you! If you have a system and want me to create a handy-dandy tool for you, let’s talk about it!

cover photo credit:

motivated to keep riding

I live on a gravel road.

When we bought the house two years ago, I knew the gravel would be annoying for many reasons, but mainly because I’m an avid cyclist and the gravel makes it harder to get out for a quick road ride. This morning when I hit the smooth pavement out of town, I realized that the gravel between my house and a beautiful ride was just a small inconvenience before I got out where I wanted to be.

As I rode on, I realized that road biking is a bit of a metaphor for life.

When you get to flat, smooth road and the wind is at your back, you feel strong and on-course. You can just get low on the handlebars and cruise, and life. is. good. Then, you turn a corner, and you’re riding into the wind, slowing you down a bit. Then a steep hill rises to greet you. And there’s more traffic to keep an eye on. And the sun is strong and hot. And maybe you didn’t plan well and forgot to eat before you left, or you didn’t bring enough water.

Usually these things don’t all happen at once, but the right combination can leave you wishing you were at home instead of miles away with your legs your only engine. You can’t just lay your bike down on the side of the road and give up. You have to keep going, even if slower than you planned or on a different route than you had intended when you set out. Every time this scenario has happened to me on a ride, I’ve survived and gotten home again… sweaty, tired, grateful to be there, and a little bit stronger too.

road ride
my cell phone was a weak tool in trying to capture the beauty of the morning

This is all true when I think about hurdles I’ve come across in just about every part of my life too. When things have been tough, I’ve survived, I’ve gotten where I was supposed to be (although admittedly, it isn’t always where I thought I’d be), and I’ve grown in the process. I’ve learned a bit of patience during all those times a plan didn’t come together as quickly as I wanted. I’ve learned that just because I didn’t end up where I thought I would doesn’t mean I ended up in the wrong place. And I’ve learned I’m stronger than I think. And I’ve learned these things over and over again… even when I thought the last lesson was strong enough to stick!

When you feel like throwing your hands in the air, laying down the bike, and giving up: know that the journey you’re on is making you stronger, and the hill you’re climbing has a peak you’ll reach. And maybe you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view when you get there! And maybe there will be another hill after that. If there is, you will take a deep breath, settle in, and climb that one too.

Just don’t even THINK about skipping the ride because of a little bit of gravel.