When was the last time you surprised yourself?

Have you ever started on a challenge of some kind then run smack into real life?  In the last month I embarked on a physical challenge. It all started when I read a Twitter post by Jennifer McClure, one of the founders of DisruptHR, the event that Teneo Consulting Inc. got involved with back in February.  Jennifer posted a tweet about doing a 10,000 step challenge for 30 days. She was tweeting about doing laps around her dining room table at midnight just to get those last few steps in before s
he went to bed!  It got me to thinking about challenges and whether they actually help us to accomplish our goals or whether they set us up for failure.  It also made me wonder whether I could increase how much I moved in a day.

Last January I did some research on fitness devices because I knew I wasn't moving enough and I wondered how much I truly moved.  My body complained when I pushed my chair back from the computer.  The shoulders screamed in protest after a day of desk work, and that damn scale was always honest.  January was bleak.  It got bleaker after the fitness device arrived displaying the ghastly truth day after day after day.

Rarely did I witness 10,000 steps on the display.  In fact I seemed to struggle to get 3,000 steps to register.  Part of me wanted to just put the device in the bottom of the dresser drawer and pretend I hadn't ever seen the truth.  But then I would have to hide the scale, send all my clothes to charity, and shop for a larger size.  That was not a scenario I was prepared to turn into a reality, I could still get my buttons and zippers done up with a little wriggling. It was time to fight back.

After reading Jennifer's tweet, I decided to consider fighting back through the 10,000 step challenge. However, I knew that it wasn't going to successful unless I got pretty granular about figuring out the baby steps that would make it possible.  You see, 10,000 steps just seemed so impossible that I knew I couldn't go into it with that goal.  So the calculator and I had a date.  I figured out how many hours I am usually awake in a 24 hour period.  Then I divided 10,000 steps by the number of waking hours.  Suddenly the idea of fitting in 10,000 steps was manageable within a day.  It meant that I only needed to walk 625 steps in an hour.  In five minutes I could walk between 500 and 650 steps depending on how fast I wanted to move.

There were no more excuses for not moving.  I had proved to myself that it could be done.  By breaking it down into small increments, I was able to see my way clear to reaching the goal.  Working it out that way gave me options I hadn't considered fully beforehand.  It gave me facts to counter the visions in my head of a military style march for hours every day.  So instead of giving up or avoiding, I decided to take the physical challenge.  It's been two weeks.

You know, and can imagine all the twists that happened in those two weeks of life.  Barriers popped out of nowhere like the infection that left me bagged and the full days of back to back meetings with car travel in between.  I did so well my first seven days until the infection hit.  Then I had to face missing a couple of days.  When that happened I was tempted to just give up, but I felt like I needed to understand the psychology behind the challenge concept and resolve how to achieve my goal despite the wrinkles of life.  It was obvious, 10,000 steps in 30 consecutive days was not happening.  But could I reframe it in my head so it was my own unique challenge?  I decided it was so important to my well-being that I was going to soldier on.  I would continue on my 10,000 step 30 day challenge.  However my 30 days would not be consecutive.  I was surprised by how difficult it was mentally to accept that I needed to continue but would have to adjust my paradigm.  So far, I have reached 10,000 steps, 11 of the last 14 days.  That my friends is 11 days more than I had in the 14 days prior to accepting my own version of the challenge.

What challenges are you looking at in life and how can you surprise yourself?  Break your challenges down into manageable chunks.  Set up your own signposts to encourage you along the way. Be willing to adapt the original challenge to fit life because life happens.  Only take on goals that are important to you.  Don't take on other people's goals.  Be willing to revise the plan and adjust your expectations.  Be prepared to detour but don't abandon the goal.  Surprisingly, how you get there doesn't matter as much as arriving someday, somehow.


  1. Written like a true management consultant! Great practical and enjoyable info. Al got a fit-bit for his 70th. It has really helped him be more focused on the walking. And sometimes we surprise ourselves. The day we packed the trailer to go camping, and yesterday, when we came home again, we logged 12,000 steps without even being aware of what we were doing. (Except that we were totally bushed by nightfall!)


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