What does little-by-little progress look like, anyway?
If you've been in the Cultivate family for any amount of time, you've surely heard us use this phrase (probably followed by a chorus of "progress, not perfection!"). These are the beliefs that PowerSheets® are built on: that small actions, done consistently over time, without the need for perfection, can yield big, lasting results.
How does this play out, though—for an ordinary person, with real-life responsibilities—who wants to see change in something that really matters to her? While we love sharing snippets of goal updates throughout the year on Instagram and in blog posts (and PowerSheets users are always doing the same in our Facebook group!), we thought it might be helpful to take you through the full lifecycle of a yearly goal in one place.
Today, I'm giving us an inside peek into one of my 2019 goals, diary-style. I've outlined the action steps I took each month below so you can see exactly how I got from where I started the year to where I finished it. Whether your goal is similarly focused on health and wellness or an entirely different area, we hope it gives you additional insight into how to tackle your 2020 goals!
The Big-Picture Goal: Ride bikes as a family, and complete the MS ride in New Bern, NC.
The Background: Over the last few years of pregnancy and newborn life, fitness has not been the highest priority for our family (I rated it pretty low in my Cultivated Life Evaluation). We know, however, that if we want to be healthy and mobile for our kids and grandkids, that starts now. Through the PowerSheets Prep Work and conversation, we settled on biking as the best way to get our bodies moving and that also works with our current reality (two young kiddos).
Knowing an external event would give us something to work toward and help keep us accountable, we aimed to complete an MS (Multiple Sclerosis) 100- or 150-mile fundraising ride in the second half of the year.
Feeling fired up! (But also it's cold outside.) Though my husband John and I used to ride bikes regularly, we literally haven't touched our road bikes since having kids. Our first step is to take our bikes to our local shop for a tune-up.
Here is one reason I like setting monthly goals: it makes me DO THINGS. Case in point: I set a monthly goal of choosing a bike trailer or kiddo bike seats in February, and when I checked in with my PowerSheets at the end of the month, I realized I hadn't made any progress on it. Because that goal was sitting on my list, I paused, posted on our neighborhood Facebook group, and a few minutes later, my next door neighbor had offered up the bike seat her kiddos had outgrown for free! (Score!)
I set a goal to go on an inaugural family bike ride this month, but learned a week later our son (7 months) is too little to safely ride with us. Oops! At this point, it seems slightly hard to believe that we’ll actually pull off a 100-mile ride later this year, but we have all the motivation we need: we found out John’s cousin was hit with a sudden and devastating onset of MS this month. There are a lot harder things than riding our bikes for a few miles.
No progress—see above :)
We ordered a bike helmet for Shep! It's the cutest, tiniest thing. We also realized—whomp, whomp—that the bike seats we had in hand wouldn't attach to our road bikes. So, we researched bike trailers and ended up buying a used Burley Bee on Facebook Marketplace.
We registered for the MS race—75 miles the first day, and 50 miles the second! We also went on our first official ride as a family of four (just a few miles down our neighborhood greenway). I stuck to a PowerSheets goal of biking weekly this month and took some time to set up my fundraising page.
Friends, I did not check off ONE of my PowerSheets goals in July. And I know why (it’s pretty simple): I didn’t keep them in front of me, and so other things took priority. Between recovering from a beach vacation, a family trip, social events, a major photo shoot, and two family birthdays, I hardly had a chance to do the dishes, let alone make progress on “extras.” There is grace for that. Let's call July an unofficial summer break (though we did squeak in about two bike rides per week in between travel!).
My biggest goal this month was to ride three times a week in prep for the MS ride, which is in September. And we did it!! It took careful planning and sacrifice, buckets of patience on the part of our kids, and many more meals eaten out than usual, but we did it! I also sent out fundraising emails to friends and family and wrote thank you notes as the donations trickled in.
You know that podcast episode about what to do when your plans don't go as planned? Yep, that was us! Our 125-mile adventure was canceled the week of the ride because of Hurricane Dorian. Even though we were totally in support of the decision, it was devastating to think we'd miss out on this capstone experience!
We were able to transfer to another MS ride that same weekend—in Reston, VA, where we have family—and though it was only a one-day, 70-mile ride, we were so grateful to have the chance to cross the finish line together (and have family cheering us on!).
The ride behind us, we set a goal of riding together once per week to maintain the progress we'd made. We did pretty well earlier in the month, but as the days grew shorter, it was harder and harder to squeeze in a ride after work.
No action on this goal.
As I worked through my 2020 PowerSheets Prep, I was so grateful for all the effort we put into this goal over the last many months, and where it landed us! I filled out the Health box of my Cultivated Life Evaluation much more positively this time around :) Wanting to build on our momentum, we set a new goal for 2020: to grow strong by biking regularly, which to me means finding a sustainable rhythm of biking year-round. Just a few weeks into the new year, I'm feeling great about the little-by-little progress we've made so far.
If you'd like to hear more about our ride, you can read my recap here!
And tell me: was this helpful? We'd love to share more "year-in-the-life" looks at Team Cultivate's goals if you'd like to read about them! Let me know below!
Looking for more goal setting resources? Download your FREE How To Break Down Your Goals Guide!