Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Goals v. Resolutions & a 2017 Challenge

Resolutions and I are not friends.
Not even a little bit.
*Image found here
In fact, several years ago, I made the very conscious decision to never again make a resolution at the start of a new year, and if I could help it, I would choose not to make any resolutions at all. After so many failed attempts to change something in my life, it felt silly to continue to do this year after year. I do still reflect, and often times I find myself making goals, but I look at goals very differently than I do resolutions.

When it comes to goals, I find that it is perfectly acceptable to make mistakes along the way. A goal is something I want to achieve and work towards with specific steps in mind. If a step is missed somewhere along the way, in my mind, it is simple enough to try again, approach it from a different angle or method, or to modify as I move along. With goals, I feel flexibility and believe that I have options along the way if my original point isn't attainable or needs some adjustment.

When I make a resolution, I am telling myself that it is a firm and unchanging destination point; so, if mistakes are made along the way, it feels somewhat easy to give up on it entirely. Take a look at any gym in early January versus early February. The numbers definitely decrease in just those few weeks because people resolved that they would go to the gym every day, and then when they miss a day or two, often times the thought of failure kicks in and some, perhaps many, give up entirely. I have witnessed this year after year first hand as I watch the masses come in during the first couple of weeks in January, only to disappear before winter comes to an end.

If my distinction between goals and resolutions just seems like semantics, I understand, but look at the definitions of the two words:

- goal: (noun) the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.
- resolution: (noun) a firm decision to do or not to do something.

One just feels as though it has flexibility built in, while the other appears to have hard and fast lines to which one must adhere.

With that, I started this particular new year lacking any thought of resolutions or goals. Admittedly, I had a lot on my mind, so I wasn't particularly focused when January 1 hit. Still, I wanted to make some sort of goal for the year, even if it seemed silly or small, so, with about a week left in January, I decided that my goal for the remainder of the year would be simple: Ride a bicycle somewhere every remaining day of the year.

There are no stipulations regarding distance or time, nor where I have to go, but the goal is to go somewhere on a bicycle every day (even if it's just around the corner). I understand that doesn't seem like much of a goal, but for a person who works from home, I can go multiple days without need to leave the house. In winter and cold months, I find it even easier to put things off and then combine trips into one day. I do leave for one reason or another throughout the day, but it isn't necessarily on a bicycle, so my hope with this goal is not to create a situation in which I dread going out, but rather one for which I look forward to time outdoors. If history is any indicator, the more frequently I ride, the more I will want to ride.

I understand that there will be challenges and that in truth, the day will come when I likely won't be able to get out on a bicycle for one reason or another, but I do look forward to the challenge to see how many days I'll be able to accomplish for the remainder of the year.  My hope is that knowing that I'll be sharing here, I'll remember to take more photos (I don't know why this is always an issue for me, but it seems to be the case). The plan is to share reports once a month here. I need some sort of accountability, or it's too easy for me to wander off and forget my goal. We'll see how things move along (I may need more frequent check-ins).

Because I only had a week of every day riding for January (I did ride several days earlier in the month, but I wasn't tracking it at all, so I will simply start with the day I began to consciously track rides), there isn't much to report, but here goes!

Day 1 (1/25)
3.6 miles
Bicycle: Rivendell Hillborne
Rode to the gym. I was almost run over by an elderly woman in a Buick who didn't see me. I noted that despite having pretty warm winter days thus far, there's still a substantial amount of ice in the bike lanes and in the gutter portion of roads. My hands froze because I wore inappropriate gloves (as usual).

Day 2 (1/26)
0.8 miles
Bicycle: Velo Orange Campeur
This was a short ride - a very short ride. I walked to the bike shop to pick up the Campeur that was getting cleaned and tuned up (trying to give Sam a break from tuning bikes). Just a short little test to get it home.

Day 3 (1/27)
3.6 miles
Bicycle: VO Campeur
Rode to the gym again. It is easy to get these rides in when I have a purpose, but I don't always want riding to the gym to be the only place I go. Still, I'm cutting myself some slack as I start this in the midst of winter, albeit a pretty warm one for the most part thus far (hope that's not a jinx).

Day 4 (1/28)
3.6 miles
Bicycle: VO Campeur
Rode to the gym. We had a busy day in front of us and I knew this would likely be the only time I would have to ride. It was pleasant (sunny), but very cold. Even Sam said his hands were frozen when we arrived. Of course, leaving early in the morning doesn't help matters this time of year.
Viewed at a recently-renovated older house, I thought this idea could be useful in our own yard.
Day 5 (1/29)
3.4 miles
Bicycle: Riv Hillborne
Another busy day; however, there was an open house I wanted to see, so while Sam was starting on one of our projects, I pedaled over to take a look. Open houses seem to be a hobby for us over the last few years. I think we need a new pastime in all honesty, but we can't seem to stop ourselves from looking. Usually, we peek in simply because housing prices have skyrocketed locally over the last couple of years and we have a kind of morbid fascination with seeing what becomes available, but this time, there was actually something in the backyard that I thought might be interesting in our own yard (pictured in the photo above).
(left) Dropping package at the post office; (middle) Several unused bike racks at the grocery store; (right) FixIt station at the grocer.
Day 6 (1/30)
8.0 miles
Bicycle: VO Campeur
I had a package that needed to be dropped at the post office and the house was lacking any sort of food, so I decided to combine the two trips. There's some construction taking place around the roads of the market I was headed to, so I knew getting home would be a bit found in a roundabout manner, but it turned out okay. I also had a photo op with the multitude of empty bike racks outside the grocer and took note of both the pump for bicycles and tools available. I thought it was pretty cool (and should be a note to other retailers in the area)! I will also add that riding a few miles with about 25 pounds of groceries was interesting. It's not something I've done for awhile and it took a minute for my balance to readjust. Thankfully, the VO is pretty stable, so we made it home just fine. It's unfortunate that the trip home was uphill loaded with the groceries, but it obviously didn't kill me as I lived to write about it. :)

Day 7 (1/31)
0.5 miles
Bicycle: Riv Hillborne
A last minute chiropractic appointment took me on a very, very brief ride. In fact, I sometimes walk instead of riding a bike because it's just that close. But, because the day was full of many obligations, I knew this would likely be all the riding I would see for the day, and I was correct. Unfortunately, I was informed that I have bursitis in my hip (how old am I anyway???), so that should be a (not very) fun addition to my list of ailments to deal with as we move into February.

A mere 23.5 miles is the grand tally for January (well, the last week of January, since I wasn't logging prior to then). The good news is that I should be able to top it fairly easily in February. The distance certainly wasn't earth shattering, but again, mileage is not the goal. I have decided not to count any pedaling on the bike trainer (while it may help cardiovascular fitness and/or muscle memory, I want to actually be outside to ride), and even though I walk fairly often, I won't be counting those miles either.

What plans or goals have you set for yourself this year? Are things off to a good start? Also, if you'd like to keep tabs on what's going on during the month, I'm going to do my very best to take at least one photo on each ride (I wasn't entirely successful with that piece for my short stint with January), and I'll share them on Flickr here, should you have interest.


  1. I have some general goals: more overnights, a trip in Canada, and hopefully a hiking adventure in England. Like you I'd rather have goals than resolutions. Goals keep me on track and provide future adventures, something to look forward to. Resolutions, in my opinion, sound like you're unhappy and are trying to drastically alter the status quo.

    1. Those sound like great goals, Annie. I hope you're able to accomplish them all (and I will be interested to read about your trips as well, so hopefully you will share).

      I completely agree with you in regard to resolutions.

  2. I like your distinction between goals and resolutions. I had never put words to it, but that's about the same approach I take. This year, though, I decided not to make a mileage goal. I topped 4000 miles last year. That felt just right to me. I'd like to hit that number again, but I'll be in Europe for a month and don't know if I'll have access to a bike at all, so I'm not going to sweat it if I don't.

    One big change for me this year, is that my spouse, and dog, and I moved to a condo downtown. There is so much more within walking distance now! I imagine I'll walk more, so I might actually ride a bit less. Again, I'm trying not to worry about counting.

    I was plugging along pretty well in January and would have hit 300 for the month, but I got injured. I'm off the bike for at least three weeks to recover. I'm not happy about it, but it is a good reminder that I do not have to ride as far as I did last year. Do you hear me (self): You do not have to go that far this year!

    You may note that I have a bit of trouble letting myself off the hook for goals! :-)

    1. Oh no! What happened, Kendra? Hopefully, your recovery will be painless and swift.

      I think mileage is an easy goal to get hung up on for many of us. Sometimes, it's nice to have that as a challenge though. It's tangible evidence of what we've accomplished during a given stretch of time whereas other options can seem as though we didn't accomplish anything.

      Three hundred miles in January is impressive, I think, but at the same time, with your injury, definitely take it easy - and I hope you won't put too much pressure on yourself to reach a certain number.

      A month in Europe sounds like a fun experience, and I hope it's one you will thoroughly enjoy!

      I understand walking over biking as well. This past year I started a lot more walking which seemed to limit time on the bike (hence my goal for this year). Oddly, most places aren't really that close and riding a bike would be faster, but I kind of took to walking as a means of transportation when I had the time to do so.

      Thanks for sharing your goals for the year.

  3. I think it helps a lot to keep track of your rides like you did, whether it is time and date, or includes miles and all the various other data available these days (e.g., duration, calories, heart rate, etc.) We've been doing this for 2 or 3 years now and it is amazing to look back at what you have accomplished over the prior month - or even the prior year.

    I find keeping these records of rides inspires me to continue. I set a goal of first 3 days a week, then four and now five days a week. Build up slowly and pretty soon you realize your routine can be surpassed. Over time, you can stretch your goals and feel better and better about yourself.

    1. I didn't track much of my riding miles at all last year. I needed a break from the Garmin in regard to riding as I was becoming obsessive with it, but I think we've had enough time apart that I am ready to try tracking the rides again. Like I said, I have no doubt I won't actually be able to ride every single day, but I will be interested to see if I can manage to get most days, since I didn't put a mileage restriction on it.

      Sounds like you've found a system that works great for you!

  4. Ride every day except therapy day - averaging 4 miles daily per week. Lose weight. When you are recovering from an accident, high blood pressure can eventually become an issue if you don't exercise enough and change diet. Get the yard and exterior house stuff done, before the heat of summer. Keep looking for an easier to manage property that isn't too far outside the city.

    1. I can imagine that having property of any sort and dealing with recovery from an accident would be quite challenging. I hope you're able to find something that works better for your needs.

      You have quite an ambitious list, and I hope you're able to accomplish everything you've set out to do.


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