A lot of times I set goals for myself that can’t be completed immediately. The goals have all sorts of parts, have to be achieved like climbing a ladder, rung after rung strung together over time. For example, every year, on my birthday list, I set a goal to read as many books in the year as I am old. I can’t complete the goal when I am five books or 20 books in. I have to keep going, often for the bulk of the year, to get there. I also set wellness goals each year. For example, just a few months ago, I set a goal to take 30 Pilates classes in short order. Several years ago, I was an endurance cyclist and was doing relatively long rides every weekend to prepare for big rides or tours– crossing 110 miles off in a day, doing a week of long rides every day along the North Carolina coastline. So I put in the time with these goals and then make a note in my reading or wellness journal. And those ways of chroniciling the pieces of a goal were all well and good until last week when I spotted this cool bracelet on my friend Jen’s wrist.
Jen was one of my endurance cycling buddies (as she reads this I swear to you that she is choking that I called us endurance cyclists. Because, seriously, we didn’t take ourselves that seriously and part of the reason why we were endurance cyclists is because covering the mileage we needed to cover took us a little longer than the average Joanne). She is a beautiful yogi and a couple of our friends go to the same studio where Jen trained, now assists, and still takes classes. At our last book club meeting, Jen and another friend, Ashley, were talking about how the yoga studio had just issued a challenge that if you did 50 yoga classes in a few months, you would earn several free months of membership at the studio. What a cool challenge. Jen and Ashley were in.
So, just after Jen clocked her first couple yoga classes for the challenge, she came home to a boxed surprise from Ashley. In it was a simple leather cord bracelet and 50 little brass rings. 50 yoga classes can feel like such a hard thing to keep track of and each class down can feel like such a small drop in the proverbial bucket, and so Ashley had come up with the perfect way for she and Jen to keep track of and focused on the journey (as opposed to reaching the destination- a point that all yogis reading this will appreciate). She went to Bead Lush, a local bead store and, with their guidance, strung up (sorry; how could I resist that pun?) this idea for the two of them; kind of an abacus for their wrists that was really about more than the numbers. As each ring, symbolizing one more completed class, is added to the bracelet, what Ashley and Jen see is their dedication to a goal, their progress, their process gaining depth and breadth and texture and even a little bit of music as those rings clamor together. A big goal can seem so far away but when you put just a small amount of energy into it every day or other day, it all really does add up, this visual shows them. They aren’t just possibly getting free yoga at the accumulation of 50 rings, they are getting the satisfaction of giving their bodies what they need, the reminder that they are women who can meet their own needs, the joy of paying attention to every step of a journey.
As Ashley said, “It’s exciting to add a link to my bracelet after each practice and I find myself being proud of how many links I have each day. They jingle on my wrist like a charm bracelet and remind me that I am accomplishing my goal. I also get asked about the bracelet from people I see each day as they have noticed my bracelet is changing and it’s fun to share what I am doing with my friends.”
I wanted to share this tool with you because it is so rare that we revel in and celebrate our journey towards a goal. Too often, we’re just focused on the goal itself. And this tool really can be used for so many different types of goals- physical goals yes, like logging 50 yoga classes or building to 60 minutes of running or tallying the miles you’ve walked- but also and, maybe more significantly, other goals. I could count the books I’ve read with this bracelet or the homecooked meals I’ve whipped up or the books I’ve read with Happy or the times I’ve called my mom or the days I’ve allowed myself to paint or the days that I’ve tallied with or without exhibiting a behavior I’m trying to address or the days you’ve allowed yourself to journal or logged some good you-first time of any stripe. It seems like it has infinite mileage and possibility.
A caveat, though: This tool is only productive if it can be used in a positive way and not as a tool that will lead to judgment or obsesssion. Only you know if paying attention in this way is a gift or a trigger for you. If this tool can be a celebration of your growth, a tool that allows you to further enjoy the journey towards an authenticity-enhancing goal you’ve made in your life. I don’t suggest it as a measure of success or failure but instead as a way to recognize that you are living the life you imagine right now.
Can you see yourself using a tool like this? If so, in what ways? For what kind of goal?