I no longer succumb to New Year’s-induced magical thinking: “I’ll lose weight! Exercise every day! Meditate! File my taxes early! Organize the basement and keep it organized!” In fact, I think it makes a lot more sense to start new things in the fall during back-to-school season, when the days still provide plenty of mood-enhancing sunshine.
But there’s one really easy resolution that can make a difference in your biking and it doesn’t cost a thing: Write it down.
What I’m suggesting is that you start a biking log in which you record your riding.
You can go really minimalist and just mark a star on a calendar every day that you ride, which would be more than enough. When you start seeing the stars line up you’ll realize you’re really on a roll, so to speak (yes, I have a terrible, terrible weakness for bike puns), and you’ll want to keep rolling.
Or you can take it a little farther and write down the mileage (for which you’ll need a cyclometer on your bike—visit your local bike shop if you don’t have one). If you write down the time, too, which your cyclometer will record for you along with mileage, you’ll have additional data.
Why do this? Well, for one thing, there’s plenty of evidence that the simple act of writing something down encourages the behavioral change you seek. You create accountability and become more conscious of the behavior.
For another thing, if you’re the kind of person who needs to see visible progress to feel encouraged to continue, keeping track lets you see patterns.
Maybe you accomplish the same number of miles in a shorter time after a while (kind of like my little race with myself on my ride to work). Maybe you ride more miles. Maybe you ride more days in a week, or a month, or the year.
But you don’t have to set any goals or crunch any data. You can just write it down.
I’ve kept a health log for years in which I make notes about things I may want to talk to my primary care provider about, note my exercise, occasionally keep a food diary, and record my weight every so often.
Because I do that I can look back and see how many days I rode my bike outside in 2011 (196) and on the trainer (7 in January when it was really snowy), and how many miles I rode (1175.03 outside that got captured plus a few more on a couple of days the cyclometer didn’t register, alas; 90.1 on the trainer).
In 2012 my goal is to ride 250 days and 1200 or more miles. Why this is realistic:
- I know what factors kept me from riding some days in 2011 (two bad bouts of flu, business travel, and a vacation that didn’t include biking).
- I know that setting a goal matters because the commitment for 30 Days of Biking really did make a difference in my riding.
- I’m setting realistic goals because I have a baseline.
And all because I started writing it down.
- The Habit Change Cheatsheet: 29 Ways to Successfully Ingrain a Behavior on Zen Habits
- Keeping Food Diary Doubles Weight Loss
- Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride: A Blogspedition
- Do you keep track of your biking? What do you use?
- Did you set biking goals for 2011? If so, how did that go?
- Do you have any biking goals for 2012? (If you’re on Facebook, check out the question posted Dec. 31, 2011, on the Bike Style Spokane page and answer there too)