I seemed to spend a large proportion of the first three months of this year with some form of cold. Just as I thought I'd shaken off one I seemed to catch another. I put it down to lowered resistance from my hectic activity as I built my new career and also the joys of commuting. There was something at the back of my mind saying "you're not getting any younger McIntosh, you really should be taking some exercise and looking after of your health".
At the moment a lot of my work is built upon the psychological foundation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT. One of the key processes of ACT is the concept of values led action which is the topic of this post.
I took some time to consider my values in relation to my health and leisure time and identified fitness, fun and courage as values that I could use as a guide which could provide a direction for my actions. One activity that came to mind was cycling. I've had a couple of different bikes over the years but I never really re-ignited my commitment, despite really enjoying the idea of being a cyclist. My various bicycles had typically become guilty reminders of my inactivity. Cycling had never become part of my life like it was when I was at primary school, fleeing around the village and nailing my Cycling Proficiency Test.
My inner thoughts and emotions in response to the prospect of getting on my bike were typically negative and cautious. How we relate to our internal world is another important process of ACT which will be the subject of another post in the next week or so. The idea that cycling could be an activity in the service of my chosen values of fitness, fun and courage was pretty compelling. Luckily for me, I had an additional source of inspiration. I'd been chatting to a friend at work, Dan, a cycling fanatic, his enthusiasm and energy were infectious. Not only that, but Dan was also taking action and embarking upon an exciting cycling venture with the creation of some some top notch, Dartmoor inspired cycling jerseys and a local virtual cycling community. You can check out his website here and the photos of the jerseys are at the end of this post. With my mind focussed on cycling I began to notice all the other velo enthusiasts in my daily life. These additional environmental cues meant that in quite a short space of time I reached a point where I woke up one morning and decided it was time to go for a bike ride - that was on 16 April. It's now 2 May and in the intervening time period I've cycled 124km. Even just typing that makes me smile, I'm so blooming chuffed.
The activity of cycling most definitely serves my values of fitness, fun and courage. The sheer joy of being on two wheels and tonking it along the seafront is superb and I've even begun to tackle some hills. My next post will cover the multitude of unhelpful thoughts and emotions I've experienced (and am still experiencing) that could prevent me from taking action. What I'd recommend is that when you choose some values to act as a guide for your behaviour, don't forget to look to those around you, there may be a source of personal inspiration much nearer than you think!