Tracking (is) what matters

 That fateful day, thanks to Deanne (front), a goal was born!

That fateful day, thanks to Deanne (front), a goal was born!

'From the Saddle' is a monthly note from our Executive Director. 

On New Year’s Day 2016, I happened to be riding with a group of friends. We had ridden about 14 miles when my friend Deanne said we should ride 16, for 2016. It was cold and we wanted to be done, but we were so close, and it was such a good idea, that we pushed through and did it. There is something about setting a goal that helps a person make a plan, and then move towards achieving it—particularly in those moments when it is not very much fun. So that day I set a goal: I’d ride 100% of the days in 2016, even if only for very short trips, for a total of 2016 miles. Which changed everything about how I thought about bicycling. 

One year later I can report the following: 255 days of biking (70%), for a total of 2,477 miles. Pretty kickass, no?!

I’m not gonna lie. There were days after I realized I wouldn’t make it to 100% in which I chose not to ride, all pouty-like. That’s a danger with setting big goals—when it seems you’ll not be able to attain them, it’s easy to say “f it” and quit. But because I’d been tracking, I noticed something. Maybe I wasn’t going to be able to 100% of days, but 70% was absolutely within reach…and still pretty kickass! Hmmm….so I got back on my bike and rode some more. 

What gets measured gets done, as they say. Clichéd? OK sure. Still true? Yes!

I’m not hardcore. People seem to think I am, but I swear to you that I’m simply utilitarian (OK, and competitive….) I find life is easier when I choose to ride. It’s cheaper, of course, and also I don’t have to deal with parking. And I feel better about myself and the world around me. But I’m slow and my trips are often quite short. My point is that anyone can do what I’ve done—set a goal to ride a certain number of days or trips or miles, do it and then track it. The tracking is non-negotiable. Those of us who are up to something big must have a way to stay motivated, keep ourselves accountable, and cheer ourselves when we feel like a failure. We've almost always done more than we think we have, and knowing that can propel us to carry on.

Not coincidentally, given the time of year, we’re in the midst of setting 2017’s organizational goals at Yay Bikes!. For a small nonprofit, I’m proud to say that we are uniquely oriented toward evaluation. As we develop our measurable objectives and tracking protocols this year, we are motivated to identify the metrics that truly help us achieve the big goals that advance our mission. Not tracking for tracking’s sake, but tracking that provides access to excellence and transformation. From my own experience, I can tell you that this will get the job done. I'll be very excited to share our strategic plan with you as soon as it’s approved at our board meeting this month. In the meantime, you can check out our 2016 Annual Report (pdf) to see what we've accomplished recently!

For the record, what am I shooting for this year? I plan to ride 75% of days, and add more recreational miles to my total. Mileage isn’t so important to me because I’m about replacing car trips with bike trips, and those trips tend to be five miles or less. But whatever type of ride I’m on, you better believe I’ll be keeping track. Join me? Year of Yay! and Bike the Cbus do count, you know! :)

 Riding with friends is the best way to ride. See you soon??

Riding with friends is the best way to ride. See you soon??