This is The Week My 20k One Year Step Challenge Should Have Ended

This was the hardest week of my goal to get at least 20,000 steps every day for a year with no breaks. I encountered three brick walls…three obstacles should have ended this challenge, but didn’t because of what happened in August. That was the month before I began on September 1st. What happened in August kept the chain alive in mid-November. I’ll explain, but first, the three brick walls.

One I saw coming. The second I anticipated would happen at some point, just not this week. And, the third I didn’t think would ever happen, but it did.

Fall Fundraiser Week

Part of my job at the radio station is to lead the team during our on-air fundraisers. That happened this week. Our Fall Fundraiser was scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday with Thursday as a possibility if we didn’t reach the goal in two days. Because I’m in charge, I need to be at the station during the entire fundraiser. These are typically 16 hour days. As you can imagine, that doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for reaching step goals. And, more importantly, my attention is entirely focused on my job, not my Fitbit.

This was the brick wall I saw coming. This fundraiser has been on the calendar for months…long before I decided to do this 20k One Year Step Challenge. In fact, I almost didn’t do the Challenge because of this. I knew how difficult it would be to get 20,000 steps on fundraiser days. And…there’s another fundraiser in March. Both I knew about before making this step-goal commitment.

What happened in August took care of this brick wall.


We enjoyed a record setting snowfall on Thursday. We had about five inches by the time it changed to rain late in the afternoon. We’re used to snow in Maryland, but not this early. Maybe, flurries in November, but not snow that closes schools and snarls traffic. That typically doesn’t happen until January and February.

76Snow is beautiful, but not the easiest to move in when you have a large step-goal. For me, snow typically yields low numbers on my Fitbit. But, I knew that couldn’t be my reality if I was serious about reaching 20,000 steps. Again, I anticipated there would be snow days during this year long challenge…just not this early…and especially not the day after our Fall Fundraiser ended and I was operating on fumes. All I really wanted to do on Thursday was sleep…not get steps.

But, what happened in August took care of this brick wall.

Fitbit Mistake

Oh, the irony.

I wear the Fitbit Flex 2 during the day. It’s a slim profile band with a pocket the Fitbit slides into. To recharge the battery, I remove the Fitbit from the band and put it into a charging dock that is attached to a USB port in my computer.

On Wednesday night I decided to charge it up because we hadn’t reached the Fundraiser goal and would need some overtime on Thursday. I didn’t know how long that would take and wanted to be prepared if it was going to be another long day.

But, as I left for work on Thursday my mind was on how we were going to close the Fundraiser gap and not much else…including these careful habits. On autopilot, I strapped on my Flex 2 band and left the house. About an hour into my workday I discovered I was wearing a band without the Fitbit. It was still in the charging dock back home. No steps were being counted.

11:19:18bTwo weeks ago, I wrote a blog about how my steps don’t count if they aren’t on my Fitbit. You can read here to understand my reasons. Needless to say, I have taken great care to cultivate habits so that NEVER happens. But, on Thursday morning it did. When I discovered what I had done I wanted to slam a door I didn’t own into a wall I didn’t own. I was beyond angry at myself. And, then, I realized I was facing all three brick walls converging into one.

Thursday was Fundraiser Overtime. I didn’t think it would last all day, but I didn’t know that for sure. Whatever moving around I did at the station wouldn’t count. And, when I finally got home I was faced with snow.

But, what happened in August took care of this giant brick wall.


I used to start the new year with a long list of things I wanted to accomplish or change about myself. These goals were based on the emotion of the moment and would always crash and burn before the end of January.

I’ve recently discovered the value of Intentional Goals. I’m done with setting goals and not reaching them. More importantly, I’m done with making commitments to myself that aren’t even worth the paper they’re written on. One aspect of Intentional Goals is considering all that is involved in reaching the goal before making a commitment to pursuing it.

Back in August, I thought through the implications of getting 20,000 steps every day for a year with no breaks. I thought carefully about Fundraiser days, and snow days, and days when I was tired and unmotivated. I thought about days when I would feel like this whole thing was a mistake. I thought about all of that for a couple weeks. I even thought about how I would handle these brick walls when facing them. And, I knew I would.

Then I made my decision. I would do it. I was only making this decision once. I was not going to negotiate with my myself when brick walls appeared. When that happened my only decision was going to be how to climb over them…not if I should climb over them.

Two weeks ago, I had the easiest week of this challenge since it started. I wrote about that and how I knew it was a gift to be savored and enjoyed. August didn’t happen for those weeks.

It happened for weeks like the one that just ended. Week Ten and the chain continues…

End note: I love the visual of a brick wall for an obstacle. Professor Randy Pausch made that come alive for me. He was a Carnegie Mellon professor who was told he had 3-6 months to live because of pancreatic cancer. Several weeks after that devastating news he gave a lecture that went viral. It was titled The Last Lecture. In it, he said, “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” Professor Pausch lived ten more months after giving that lecture…long enough to write a book with the same title. Incredibly inspirational!

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