I attended Accountex in September in Boston. One of the presentations I especially enjoyed was given by Amy Vetter. The topic was on work life harmony. My key take-away was when Amy talked about picking an activity you enjoy and committing to doing that activity every day for 30 days. That the duration of the activity was not the important thing, but the regularity was.
Life is busy for all of us. We have so many things to take care of. I run my bookkeeping firm, Beyond Balanced Books Inc., from my home office. That means I have plenty of free time, right? Wrong. Working from home can be challenging. No matter if you work from home or an office, finding time to do things you enjoy can be very challenging as the demands of everyday life and work are ever present.
As I was listening to Amy, I thought about how I really enjoy walking. I was already walking a few times a week, so I thought that I would choose walking as my personal challenge. I didn’t think about how I would fit this into my schedule or how busy my life might be in the immediate future. Rather, I just thought that this is something I could do.
Immediately after the conference, I took a short trip to see some of New England. The first morning I started the challenge. What a delightful way to begin! I was staying in a charming cottage on Cape Cod and decided to explore a different area of the town each day. I also decided to post about my challenge on Instagram and Facebook. That way I would be accountable to “the world at large”. It was easy and fun to walk each of the remaining days of the trip. I liked starting this way as it helped me to get into a good routine.
The first few days after I was back home it was relatively easy to walk too. I think I was still in the “honeymoon phase” of the challenge. Then life happened. These particular 30 days were especially busy. Had I looked at my schedule before committing to the challeng, I might have thought that I would need to wait to start. We had company visiting from out of the country, numerous social commitments and my work schedule was hectic. But alas, I shared this challenge with “the world at large”, so I had to find a way to make it work! The first thing I learned is that being accountable, in my instance through social media, helped me meet the challenge.
I prefer to exercise in the morning when I have more energy. Previous to my challenge I would walk or do some other exercise a few days a week. If something prevented me to exercise in the morning, I would just wait until the next day. But in doing this challenge, there were many days that I would get my walking in during the evening. Sometimes even after dark. So the second thing I learned is to be flexible. In my case, I discovered that there is more than just one time in a day to walk.
Some days I multi-tasked. I listened to a podcast, had a phone call or listened to a webinar while I walked. I found that listening to upbeat music put me in a great mood for the rest of the day. So the third thing I learned, was how to be creative with my time.
Most days I walked in our neighborhood. Working from home makes this the most convenient for me. I mapped several routes in the neighborhood. A long walk if time permitted. A few medium walks. A short walk. And then out of necessity a very short walk. I hiked a few times with my husband. Walked on the seashore. Walked all over, and up and down San Francisco. So the fourth thing I learned is that variety keeps the walks interesting.
I noticed that once I hit about Week Three, I began to crave my walk. The time spent walking was often the only time the entire day that I really could think free from distraction. Both my mind and body were benefiting from this challenge. I think this is what Amy was trying to share in her presentation.
Some days it was very tough to walk. I was too busy or too tired. But I completed the challenge successfully! And I ended the 30-day challenge with a huge hike and bike ride in Big Sur. The biggest benefit from the challenge is that I learned some good lessons along the way.
So what is my next challenge? I am heading to a vacation in Maui as I am writing this blog. So my next challenge is a 10-day challenge to walk on the beach every day. It’s a tough challenge I know, but someone has to do it!