This post inspired by bicyclist Claire Petersky of Bellevue.
Some people scoff at the idea of New Year’s resolutions. Others faithfully draw up a list each year and pledge anew to change something, in a constant striving for self-improvement that sells a lot of books, pills, and strange devices that promise to zap that fat or make you stronger.
There’s a reason the health clubs are all full in January–and there’s a reason they steadily empty out after that. Change doesn’t come just by writing something down on a piece of paper, a Getting Things Done or 7 Habits special form of some kind, or an app that will nag you about hydrating properly and getting 60 minutes of exercise.
A couple of years ago I decided that instead of making resolutions I would focus on three words for my bicycling. I chose consistency, variety, and mindfulness. Good words, and I did think about them and blog with some updates as a form of public accountability.
However, I also adopted some mileage goals for the year, only to realize later thanks to a comment from Kent Peterson of Issaquah (who writes Kent’s Bike Blog) on my post that my real bicycling goal is just to ride my bike as often as I can.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a quick trip to the grocery store or an hour heading somewhere farther away or a whole day messing around on various errands–I would simply rather ride my bike than drive a car. I also adopted a goal for number of days ridden in the year, which makes more sense in that context.
The kicker here is that 2012 was also the year I moved to Seattle for my new role with what is now Washington Bikes, so it wasn’t a typical riding year in a lot of ways! When I moved into temporary housing just a half-mile from the office I kicked a big hole in the total-mileage goal. The words, though, still applied even when the days/miles goals stopped working for me.
Claire Petersky pares my three-word list further, down to one-word resolutions she’s been adopting for years. What’s great about one word is that you can’t assign yourself a task to be accomplished in just one word. It has to be a word like the ones I chose–one that serves more as a motto or mantra. You can’t “fail” at something like variety or mindfulness–you can only have more or less of it, and maybe it turns out not to be a good fit for that particular year.
When Claire asked friends what one word they’d choose, it struck me that many of the words people came up with captured something about bicycling. Health. Adventure. Focus. Peace. Flourish. (And yes, one person said “Mileage”.)
This has me thinking about my one word, both for myself and for Washington Bikes. Board and staff members of every nonprofit struggle to craft the “perfect” mission statement, agonizing over every word and trying to create something inspiring, compelling, and distinctive that you can recite at the drop of a hat. But what if organizations (and businesses, for that matter) had to choose one word?
Two questions for you:
- What one word would you suggest for Washington Bikes for 2014? (It’s okay if you can’t pick just one–suggest away!)
- What word will you pick for yourself–either for everything you might face in the coming year, or for your bicycling?