The Surprising Lessons I Learned from My 31-Day Walking Challenge: A Mother’s Journey from Intention to Habit

Legs from a woman walking - white shoes and black leggings

Have you ever set a goal or intention for yourself and then let it slip away in the chaos of daily life? As a busy mother, that has happened to me more times than I could count.

I am often trying to develop good habits, provide nourishment and stability for my family, and find time for myself all at the same time, and it feels impossible. However, I recently completed a 31-day walking challenge, which has completely shifted my life in the most positive ways. 

For the challenge, I committed myself to walking 3 miles (5 kilometers) daily as part of my morning routine consistently for a month. In the end, I learned some surprising but valuable lessons.

In this post, I’ll share my journey through the 31-day walking challenge, the lessons learned, and how you can apply these insights to hopefully build some great habits and propel your own life. As a bonus, I’m also offering the monthly tracker I used for free! 

Without further ado, let’s get to the lessons learned. Shall we?

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1. The Power of Resolution

We are often told about the power of setting resolutions and intentions, and I know about the power of focus, but this challenge helped me realize at a deeper level the power of resolution.

I have often picked up habits and dropped them or wasn’t able to stick with them for a prolonged period. When I decided that this challenge would last for a month, I knew it was not going to be easy.

There was a likelihood that I would fail, but that wasn’t going to stop me. I simply wanted to prove to myself that I could stick to a moderately challenging task long enough to build consistency. I wanted it to become a habit. If only I could show up one day at a time, that would be enough.

Knowing that I had failed many times before at similar challenges, I resolved at the beginning that if I skipped a day, I would go on the next day. This resolution was crucial for me to avoid the perfectionism trap that I would often fall into. I needed to temper my all-or-nothing mentality.

In addition, I prepared myself psychologically for obstacles; that way, they would not catch me by surprise. My resolve was to keep moving forward no matter what.

Once I made this commitment to myself, something in my mindset shifted. It is like a powerful force came over me through that simple mental resolve and pushed me to wake up every morning with a clarity of purpose and enthusiasm to go.

I had no doubts about what I needed to do, regardless of my feelings, this was a decision that had been premade, I knew it was good for me, and therefore, my job each day was to simply get up and execute.

This power of resolution, as I have come to realize, can fuel you even at your most exhausted to keep charging forward toward your goal.  Use it to neutralize resistance to pursue your goals.

2. Accountability plays a significant role in pushing you forward

Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to results

To keep myself accountable and to make sure that I stayed the course, I decided that I would share updates about my month-long challenge on my WhatsApp status.

Pink background with quote "Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to results" - Bob Proctor

I posted my fitness summaries on my WhatsApp stories each day to provide proof that I was still going. My friends and family encouraged me by responding with clapping emojis, nudges to keep going, and messages letting me know how I was inspiring them to go for their own goals.

Some of my family members even went further to ensure that I stayed on track on days that I seemed to be slacking. On some days, they offered to go for walks with me to ensure that I met my daily target. By seeking accountability, I ended up with a strong support system around me that made it much easier for me to successfully undertake the challenge.

I know that this would not have been the case if I had pursued my goal quietly without involving other people. 

Even though WhatsApp worked perfectly for me, it may not be your cup of tea. If that is the case, I would suggest using other options such as social media, joining a local or online support group with like-minded people, or enlisting a friend(s) to share your progress with.

Whichever option you choose, having an accountability system or a support group is key to your success and motivation to keep going.

Do not underestimate the power of those clapping emojis or love hearts coming from other people.  

Related: Cute Daily To-Do List Printable (FREE)

3. What gets measured gets improved – tracking your progress is essential

You have probably heard the quote by Peter Drucker that “What gets measured gets managed”. I completely agree with this.

To progress, to improve, or simply to get it done, it is crucial to keep track of what you are doing. This was a crucial lesson for me in my month-long walking challenge.

Right from the beginning, I used a habit tracker to keep track of my progress through the 31 days. Every day after completing my 3 miles, I would tick on the tracker and share an update on my WhatsApp status, indicating which day of the challenge I was on.

On the days that I forgot to tick off the tracker, I could literally feel the change in my motivation levels. Not having that visual representation of my progress impacted me negatively, even though I was still making real progress. That was quite strange but insightful for me.

Seeing my progress on the tracker was incredibly motivating and it played a significant role in ensuring I stayed on track. Even on the two days that I didn’t manage to walk 3 miles, I looked at the tracker and was motivated to do better the next day. Had I not been keeping tabs on the tracker, I would have easily lost track of how far I was and lost momentum. 

This simple tool was such a game-changer for me and I am super excited to share it with you.

Free Monthly Habit Tracker Printable:

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4. The Power of Starting Now

Once you set your goal, set a clear intention or simply resolve to do something, it is very important to get started immediately.

Strike while the iron is still hot, start while you still have momentum, because the truth is, the momentum doesn’t last forever.

This is a lesson I have learned from the many goals I have failed to achieve because I waited to start on Monday (you know, when the new week begins…), in January or on the 1st of the month, or whichever other ‘right’ time. I had many excuses for not starting immediately because I was waiting for the perfect time.

At some point, someone asked this question that was a light bulb moment for me, “What is special about the 1st of the month, Monday, or even January? What is it that will be different from today? ” If the answer to these questions is “nothing,” then you really should start today because waiting for the right moment will often lead you to procrastinate.

Carrying this lesson from many previous failed attempts, I did it differently this time. When I resolved to do a 31-day challenge of walking 3 miles daily, it was smack in the middle of the month. I knew if I decided to wait until the beginning of the next month to start, I would never do it. 

So what did I do? I started on the 15th day of the month, while the power of intention was still strong and the excitement of doing something new was building.

Whatever goal you are feeling strongly about in your life currently, take action now. There is no better time than now, no better day than today.

Just start.

5. Less is More

Focusing on a single habit at a time may be more effective than trying to keep up with several habits at the same time.

By selecting and focusing on just one habit, I was able to give it my full attention and energy and not be distracted by all the other habits that could be competing for my attention. I figured that if I could just develop one habit successfully, the others might be easier since I would have built the consistency muscle a bit. I also have quite a high propensity for overwhelm, so my chances of giving up were higher if I tried to focus on multiple habits.

If you are like me in that sense or you have just made the decision to develop a bunch of new good habits, I’d suggest you start small. Choose one habit to master before moving on to the next, and then you can use habit stacking to build a powerful set of habits without burning yourself down with overwhelm.

As it turns out, giving your full attention and energy to one habit at a time is more effective than multitasking.    

6. Unintended Benefits

Sometimes you gain unintended benefits when you stick to discipline and consistency. This is the one aspect of this challenge that I was not ready for but I am so appreciative of.

I got to experience the most beautiful sunrises because 90% of my walks were in the early mornings. Just see some of the shots below. How magical!

Another delightful bonus was all the books I ended up ‘reading’ that empowered me and increased my knowledge.

During my walks, I had almost an hour of quiet to myself each morning. As a result, I ended up utilizing my existing Everand subscription so much more than before. I could now listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and even affirmation audio during my walks.

Some of the books that I really enjoyed were: 

I also listened to The Compound Effect book summary done by Flashbooks and there were so many gems I had to take notes once I got back home. I’d highly recommend it too.

This experience taught me that when you go for your goals, sometimes growth becomes compounded in unexpected ways. The journey may bring more rewards than we initially imagined. And perhaps, as Steve Jobs said, “The journey is the reward.”

Personal Growth and Creating Consistent Habits

In conclusion, this challenge was meant to be a simple 3-mile (5 km) walking challenge to help me build better and more consistent habits. However, it ended up being a journey with surprising benefits and lifelong lessons. I hope that you can apply some of these lessons to your life to create consistent habits and advance your personal growth.

Remember to set your resolution and utilize the power of resolve, stay accountable, track your progress, focus on one habit at a time, and start now. While you are at it, please enjoy the journey and all the bonus benefits that will come with it. Every small step can lead to massive changes. Start now and let’s walk this journey together. 

  12 Amazing Inspirational Quotes For Mothers To Get You Through The Tough Days

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