What Is INERTIA Anyway?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been a periodic bicycle commuter to work. About 2.5 years ago the parking pass prices at my job jumped from ~$25 per month to ~$90 per month. That jump in price was a major motivator to get me out of my car and onto the bus or my bike at least a couple of days per week, almost all year round. I don’t ride when it snows but any other time and I’ve typically been pretty happy to be on my bike. It is ~20km round trip and relatively flat.  A nice ride. When I’m riding regularly I feel stronger and healthier overall.

But for some reason, since last fall I have found it really difficult to convince myself to get on my bike. It has been really easy to convince myself that riding is just too difficult, inconvenient or challenging. At first the excuses I found myself making had to do with not having enough time, or that I really needed to replace my helmet (which actually happened weeks ago). Then the winter weather became the excuse – too cold, dark or wet, etc. After that, when I really couldn’t use the weather excuse any longer I found myself saying that maybe my bike needed some fixing up after not being ridden for a while. For a while I told myself that I would get organized on the weekend, only to find weekend after weekend that I avoided pulling out my bike.

Does it surprise you when you get FROZEN in place? 

What was happening to me?

I guess I could dig into a bunch of different things…but instead I’ll just clump everything together and simply say that Inertia Got Me!

I’ve mentioned inertia before; a definition (not the physics definition) of inertia is “a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged”. What I love are some of the synonyms: inaction, passivity, malaise, stagnation, dullness, sluggishness, torpor, idleness, indolence, laziness, sloth.  Not a very positive list!

But really when I think about my lack of ability to get on my bike, week after week, it seems like these words apply far too well!

I clearly needed something really strong (or a miracle) to make a change!

Unfortunately, there was no Fairy Godmother who arrived with a magic wand.

Fortunately, something else did.

{Related post: Take A Leap – Just Do It! }

Last week was “Bike to Work and School Week” where I live. It is an annual tradition with the goal of getting more people commuting on active transportation rather than just driving cars. If you participate, you can go to community meet-ups, win prizes and bragging rights.

My Fairy Godmother was Bike to Work Week.

I dusted off my bike and rode off on Monday morning. I stopped at a Celebration Station and had my chain oiled.

Seriously, I felt awesome! The weather was lovely, the wind was in my hair (kind of – through my helmet J). My bike worked perfectly. And other than my butt being out of cycling practice (darn those seats) and I wasn’t sure if I would make it up the last hill on my way home, there were no negatives!

After the first day, I got on my bike on Tuesday, feeling even better than day 1.

By the end of the week, I’d ridden 4 out of 5 days. No issues, no challenges. I saved $24 in parking fees plus more in gas. My legs felt stronger. And I was even motivated to get to the pool for a swim (talk about another place that INERTIA GOT ME over the winter).

And then this morning (Monday) I got on my bike and rode again. I expect to ride 3 days this week. And next week too. If I keep this up, I’ll be back in a regular cycling habit, reaping all the benefits of it.

The oddest thing is that I also found myself doing some other things I’d been “avoiding”. Getting into the pool, writing a more detailed message to you, weeding some parts of our back yard. Amazing!

It made me realize that maybe my story might help you.

Where in your life that inertia is holding you back? Maybe saving money, cutting down drinking, getting back to the gym or cleaning out that closet.

Whatever that thing is, are you ready for change? What could you use as your very own Bike to Work Week?

Here’s my challenge to you:

1) Sit quietly for 5 minutes with your hand on your heart, breathing quietly in and out through your nose (set a timer if you need to).

2) Consider one thing in your life you are ready to change, but haven’t been able to focus on successfully.

3) Write it down. Then write down why making this change is important.

4) Now consider and write down your very own Bike to Work Week plan. If you can’t think of anything, feel free to email or message me and we can brainstorm together.

Once you’ve decided on your plan, come back here and write your plan in the comments below (or you can email me at maja@majatkarlsson.com).





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