Make Bike Riding a Daily Habit: Announcing the 66 Day Bike Challenge for Kids
We all have hopes and dreams. When we dial-in on them a little closer, we may even call them goals. This is a good thing. It’s important to have a sense of direction and purpose.
Too often, however, hopes and dreams, even when reduced to goals, go unrealized. We either bite off more than we can chew (e.g., a list of 10 New Year’s resolutions) or the transformation we seek is too vague or too distant to reduce to daily action.
“I want to lose weight” is a worthy goal but it’s not a plan. And that’s the rub when it comes to behavior change. We are not what we hope to become. We are what we repeatedly do.
Most people want the same things, including health, happiness, good relationships, and financial security. Those that achieve these things take consistent, daily action that brings them closer to their goals. Others meander aimlessly through life and are surprised when they never get anywhere. As anyone who has gotten really serious about behavior change knows, life is nothing more than the sum of one’s habits.
Change your habits and, yes, you’ll change your life.
Ever since we started Life and Whim, we’ve been driven by a mission to inspire kids and families to spend more active, adventurous, and creative time outdoors. At the same time, we’ve been troubled by statistics showing that kids continue to spend less and less time playing outside.
Did you know that a recent study showed that kids today spend, on average, half the time playing outside that their parents did when they were kids? This is despite the fact that research shows that there are immense benefits for kids of outdoor, active play, such as physical health, cognitive and emotional wellbeing, increased happiness and better immunity.
As parents, and as members of a community, we all play a role in helping to reverse this harmful trend. There’s lots we can do to help kids develop healthy, outdoor-oriented habits that will pay dividends for a lifetime.
In an effort to do our part, we’re excited to announce a new initiative to get more kids on bikes more often.
The “66 Day Bike Challenge” is a program, rolling out later this week, that encourages kids to ride their bikes, even for a few minutes, for 66 consecutive days this summer.
Every kid who participates in the Challenge can proudly declare that he or she is an official “Ridestar.” We’re teaming up with Ty Schmidt and his awesome, bike-tastic team at Norte to bring the Challenge to life here in northern Michigan this summer. But of course, no matter where you live, getting more kids on bikes is a big win for everyone—so please join in the fun!
Here’s how it works:
Jerry Seinfeld didn’t write all those great jokes by accident. He did so by building a daily writing habit. To keep himself on track he put a big poster up on the wall with a square for each day of the month. For every day that he wrote, he put a red X in the square. Once he had a string of X marks in place, he didn’t want to break the chain, so he kept writing day after day until it eventually became habitual.
Inspired by Seinfeld’s method, we created a poster that has 66 spots on it that kids can mark off for each day they ride their bikes. By visualizing their progress by using the poster, our hope is that they will be motivated to not break their own chain and, like Seinfeld, develop a daily bike-riding habit.
Why 66 days?:
When someone is trying to adopt a new habit, be it healthy eating or working out, it takes discipline at first to stay on track. But discipline doesn’t last forever, so the objective is to marshall discipline for as long as it takes for the behavior change to become habitual. After forcing yourself to go to the gym for a period of time, it then becomes second nature.
In 2009, researchers at the University of London College set out to determine how long someone needs to maintain discipline before forming a habit. They called this the point of “automaticity.” What they found is that it takes an average of 66 days to acquire a new habit.
Of course, for some kids, all you need to do is have a bike sitting in the garage and they’ll be out riding, every day, for as long as you let them. But other kids, confronted with massive digital distractions, need a push in the right direction, and we’re hoping the accountability built into the 66 Day Bike Challenge poster will help give them the extra motivation they need to stay on track and experience automaticity.
What comes next:
We’ll be kicking off the 66 Day Bike Challenge with Norte this Saturday, May 11 – Come Join Us!
We’ll be set up with Norte at the annual Lids for Kids event at F&M Park in Traverse City starting at 10 a.m. We’ll be sharing information about the program and handing out free Challenge posters. In addition, trained professionals and volunteers at the event will properly fit each child with a free bike helmet and share helpful bicycle safety tips.
If you can’t make it to the event, you can pick up a FREE POSTER at the Norte Clubhouse at the Grand Traverse Civic Center from 9–5 p.m. on weekdays. In addition, you can download the poster here.
We can’t wait to see more kids on bikes in our community (and yours) this summer. And we’re thrilled to be teaming up with Norte, an organization that has done tremendous good in so many ways to encourage healthy, active lifestyles for kids. Thanks again to Ty and his team for being awesome.