29 Practical Business Lessons Learned from a Failed Cycling Challenge

I took on a cycling challenge where I was to ride for a minimum of 1-hour for each day of February. It sounds reasonably simple. I mean, I love cycling and we can all find a spare hour that we’ve wasted through the day right?! Spoiler alert…I failed, after 24 days. No excuses but I can say I had plenty of ‘thinking’ time and I learned a lot. A lot about goals, time management, productivity and little business practices that I’ve already started to implement.

Here are 29 practical business lessons you can take from my failed cycling challenge:

  1. Look for the signs

We all ponder the big life questions, you know “What’s my purpose? How will I make my business succeed? What should I order for morning tea?” but often that’s where we leave it – at a question. If you’re going to ask a question of yourself, then look for the signs that give you the answer. There are often plenty of ‘road signs’ along the way that direct you to where you need to go, but you need to concentrate and take note to make use of them.

  1. Ask for help

Yes, I can change a tyre if I get a flat, but I’m more effective at doing other things. Asking for help at things your less skilled at will allow you to be more productive and efficient at working towards your goal.

  1. Roadblocks can be useful

There is no doubt they are annoying, but you can take the time to rest and reset. Use that time to think of opportunities or alternatives to moving forward. Sometimes the detour will take you along a better path.

  1. Equip yourself with the right tools

If I wanted to move fast and along the main roads to get to my destination, I chose my road bike. Other times I wanted to get muddy and move through terrain that would challenge and reward me, so I chose my mountain bike. Without the right bike, the goal is hard to complete. Think about your workspace, is it providing you with the environment to get the job done?

  1. Do it first thing in the morning

There should be a new Newtonian gravitational law about the cumulation of the hours across the day adding weight to any task that needs to be completed. I’m not a ‘morning’ person but I can guarantee that the ease of completing any task first thing in the morning gives you momentum for the rest of the day. Just get up and get it done.

Kylie Mccorquodale Writing Productivity Cycling Sunrise

  1. Schedule your focus

Focusing on this cycling challenge alone meant I thought of ways to rearrange my day to MAKE it fit. As much as I recommend getting your task done first thing in the morning it wasn’t always possible. Because I made it a non-negotiable, I scheduled it into my day – sometimes in multiple increments and creative ways. This resulted in improved productivity in other areas to ensure I got to my cycling time.

  1. Be out-loud accountable

I’m a people pleaser so if I commit to something out-loud to others it means I’m 98.3 % more likely to get it done. The more friendly pressure that I receive the more I want to please. You don’t have to be a people pleaser though! Being accountable and taking responsibility is a skill. The more you practice it, the stronger you become.

  1. Don’t coast, always be productive

Just like pedaling up a huge hill, reaching the peak of a task feels exhilarating. Remember though, your end goal is still in the distance. You’ve worked hard to reach that point so don’t go thinking it’s time to coast. Sure, take your feet off the throttle for a moment to celebrate your success and recover but don’t lose your momentum. Keep a little pressure on the pedals, otherwise it’s harder to get started again.

  1. Dress for success

Let’s just say that wearing the wrong cycling shorts will result in an uncomfortable ride. Dressing confidently will help you live up to how you look.

  1. Get a support crew

It may be your goal, but you will be surprised at how invested others can become in helping you achieve it. My family was encouraging and supportive of my cycling challenge, often doing small things or offering words of encouragement that made achieving it on a daily basis easier. Be open and vulnerable to what others may do for you in business. Often the best referrals come from where you least expect them.

  1. Just keep pedaling

Yes, you’re fatigued from the constant work. Yes, there will be difficult times. Get over it. Remind yourself of the result you seek. Just keep moving forward.

  1. Care what others think

I know all the self-help gurus say not to care about what others think. However, not all of us have the wondrous benefit of intrinsic motivation. If you’re more of a ‘need-a-little-push-in-the-right-direction-extrinsic-motivation-type’ then performing for others may be useful. Seek constructive criticism and be willing to make changes based on knowledge from more experienced sources.

  1. Don’t ignore the niggles

If things are starting to hurt, both in cycling and business, then you need to change things up. The old adage of ‘doing what you’ve always done will get you what you’ve always got’ rings true. Don’t injure your chances of success by being narrow-minded. Even a temporary change in the way you’re going about your goal can help.

  1. Measure your success

Halfway through the challenge and it’s time to reflect. Theoretically, 1-hour a day of cycling doesn’t sound too harsh but maintaining consistency is harder than it seems. What we often forget is to measure the distance traveled from the beginning of our journey. I may be only halfway to my goal but I’m 2-weeks ahead of where I was if I hadn’t committed.

  1. Make it consequential

Motivation wains a lot faster than I can pedal. Making your goal unavoidable takes over when motivation disappears. I rode to work, meaning I made fulfilling my cycle challenge part of a larger responsibility.

  1. Question your intentions

Are you just spinning your wheels or is there an actual purpose to completing your goal? I started to realize that by focusing purely on getting the 1-hr ride done that the ‘quality’ of my rides we’re starting to slip. While the challenge was to complete 1-hr a day of cycling, the intention (and reward) was to build strength and speed. Remind yourself of what you expect from achieving your goal.

  1. Change gears and push harder

If it feels too easy then it is. Sure, things will get easier as you build momentum and reinforce positive habits, it’s called getting fitter. Whether it be bikes or business, take that as a sign to up your game.

  1. Don’t trust that everyone is on the same path as you

I was riding early one morning and narrowly missed being hit by a car flying through a corner. I was shaken, upset and angry at the driver. The reality is there are plenty of people who will knock you down, whether they intend to or not, but it’s how you recover and get on with things that count. Be mindful of others but stick to your path.

Kylie McCorquodale Writing Productivity Cycling Parking

  1. Get up 15 minutes earlier

It’s a simple and effective way to get that extra 2% done. It feels like you’ve won the day, even if it means you manage to fit in a relaxed coffee or a quick socials update.

  1. Fuel yourself well

Cycling for hours on an empty stomach will show in your performance. The same goes for business. Fill your tank with goodness every day. Also, choose your fuel wisely, whether it be good food, an inspiring podcast or doing a kind deed make sure your fill up for the long haul.

  1. Beware of the ‘bare minimum’

Doing the bare minimum (in anything) is only lazy if you have more to give. There is a big difference between putting in minimal effort and taking small steps. Keep in mind that any small step towards your goal is a good thing. How ironic is it that we beat ourselves up for actually doing something? If a small step is all you can take, then give it recognition. Not every day has to be the biggest of achievements.

  1. The future you is grateful for your persistence

When you’re deep into your goal and questioning everything from your intentions to your existence, just keep plugging away. Cover your ears and stomp the ground like a small child for at the end when you’re all grown up I promise you’ll be glad you persisted.

  1. Make a purchase

I hate spending money. Yes, I know I’m weird but a reward for good effort is justified. Buying something new and shiny can be a physical prompt for you to continue towards your goal – Lycra business suit anyone?

  1. Failing doesn’t make you a failure

I went away to a school bush camp where I couldn’t take my bike. While I tried all sorts of ways to conjure up a ride while I was away, it didn’t happen. I hate to fail. But I accept that I did. However, I realized that this challenge for me (like business) wasn’t about the end goal, it was about getting to the end goal. The process of committing time and effort consistently to build speed and strength. That still happened and I’m still building, both in cycling and business. It just means you start again from a stronger base.

  1. Life happens

Excuses. Excuses. Excuses. Always remember it’s your goal. Most people are too focused on their own lives to care if you reach your goals or not. The excuses for failing are merely a justification to yourself. Own it, be accountable and move on. You can always start again.

  1. Don’t let a setback set you back

Flat tyres can ruin a ride. But if you are prepared with a back-up plan you don’t stay deflated for long. Set a big hairy goal, create your roadmap and start navigating. Don’t be naïve to think there won’t be obstacles. Be prepared for them, reset or restart whenever necessary.

  1. Saddle sores are a warning sign

I often had to ride my bike on the indoor trainer to fit in the 1-hr cycling challenge. Doing this means you’re sitting (and sweating) in the one position which creates dreaded saddle sores! If you’re not changing things up and making small adjustments as you go then the friction will eventually wear away even the toughest skin. Being agile and flexible in your business life will mean you have less resistance (and pain) for reaching your goals.

  1. Feed off others

You’re not alone. We all have aspirations to achieve something. Whether it be a common 1-hr cycling challenge or reaching a certain amount of sales it’s just more fun when you do it as part of a community. Join a challenge, go to networking meetings or set up your own!

  1. Thank those who helped

Gratitude goes a long way in business and in life. Being thankful creates a continual cycle of giving rather than taking, where everyone seems to benefit a whole lot more!

I applaud the people who signed up for the 1-hour cycling challenge, whether you completed it or not. Most of all, thank you to Terry Kennedy who took the time to set-up the challenge. Inspiring others to action is a valuable attribute. Make your goals an inspiration to others – by simply sharing them!

What monthly business challenge can you set yourself to complete? Let me know, I may join you!

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