I just returned home from the most epic bike ride of my life…and the adrenaline is still coursing through my veins.
It was, hands down, the most intense, the most miserable, and the most fun I’ve had in four days.
Between 36 mph headwinds, rain, sleet, hail, 38-degree weather, and a quarter inch of water in my shoes, I can honestly say I never thought I’d be warm again.
I kept it up, though, and we were rewarded on the last day with a tailwind for part of the ride and sun (albeit chilly) the entire way.
On Wednesday night, as I prepared for the ride, I checked and re-checked my packing list.
I charged all of my electronics, including my FitBit, my Garmin, and the electronic shifting on my bike.
And I texted my mom 100 times to say how nervous I was, with a few puking emojis thrown in.
I really didn’t know if I would make it, even though my coach said to me at least 6,500 times (slight exaggeration), “Stop stressing about it. You’re ready!”
I’ve been training since January and was about to ride my longest distance all year…four days in a row.
Actually, my longest distance ever. Before Sunday, my longest was 160 miles in two days.
But it turned out he was right and I was wrong.
What Cycling Can Teach You About Communications Planning
That’s the thing about preparation—you work for months and months and months to get ready, you work your plan, and then you execute.
It’s not any different than business growth or communications planning.
You create a goal, you devise a plan, and you work toward achieving what you’ve set out to do.
There are some days that are incredibly difficult and you wonder if your goal is too aggressive or if you’re just not made for whatever it is you’re doing.
And then there are days you have a tailwind and it feels like the easiest thing you’ve ever done.
There are some days (or months or years) that absolutely nothing works, even though it did in the past.
And then there are days (or months or years) that you get past your plateau and start cranking again.
Following are three things I’ve learned in the past five months—culminating with a 400-mile base camp bike ride—that you can apply to communications planning.
Create and Work a Plan
While you need an annual goal to strive toward, without milestone goals, you’ll never get there.
For instance, if I had said in January that I wanted to race this year, but didn’t have anything on the calendar, it would have been difficult to craft a plan.
Laura Petrolino wrote yesterday about how May is National Recommitment Month, which is a great time to review our goals and see where we are against them.
I also recommend crafting some milestone goals that will stair step you to the larger ones.
If, for instance, you want to gain 1,000 new email subscribers, how will you get there?
Your mid-year base camp goal should be something along the lines of, “Craft a Facebook ad campaign that drives 500 new email subscribers in two weeks.”
You’ll work for five months on the campaign, crafting the right messaging, building the content and images library, nurturing relationships, and then you’ll be ready to kill it.
You can’t just create a Facebook ad campaign and expect to gain that many new subscribers.
But if you create and execute a plan, you will get there by base camp.
What is your mid-year base camp communications planning goal?
Hire a Coach
In January, I hired a new cycling coach because, while I was riding, I haven’t raced since my little Beanie arrived.
It was time to get back into it—and she’s old enough now that I don’t have to be with her every minute of every day—and I knew I needed some help.
Not help with the discipline, but help with designing a goal, crafting a plan, and holding me accountable.
Before January, I could get myself on the bike for an hour, six days a week, but I knew I needed more if I was going to race.
More than that, though, I really needed someone to hold me accountable.
It’s super easy to say, “Well, I did ride six hours last week.” Or, “SoulCycle counts.”
(SoulCycle is super fun, but it totally doesn’t count as real riding.)
With a coach, you are required to outline goals and work a plan you designed together.
And you are held accountable to what you said you would do.
Even Michael Jordan had a coach. There is zero shame in getting help.
Invest in Professional Development
This year I bought myself a new bike, invested in a power meter, upgraded my Garmin, and bought some new gear.
I also paid for some races, including the ride I just completed, to make certain I would reach my goals.
It’s kind of amazing what happens when you invest in yourself—you actually do the work you’ve set out to complete.
Without professional development (and a great coach), the shoemaker’s children end up without shoes…no matter how aggressive your goals were in January.
It’s really easy to make excuses and to change direction, based on what emergency is happening right now.
With professional development, though, you’ve made a commitment to yourself to achieve (or exceed) your goals.
You’ve invested in yourself, which means you will be extra successful.
If you don’t do it, who will?
The End of 2017 Will Look Differently
It’s pretty amazing what we can do, once we set our minds to it and get some help.
Want to ride 400 miles in four days? Check!
Want to do an Ironman? Check!
Want to add 500 email subscribers in two weeks? Check!
Want to add $1MM in new revenue? Check!
Communications planning requires you to create and work your plan.
Add milestone goals in between your larger goals.
Hire a coach so you can become the Michael Jordan of your industry.
Get yourself some professional development.
Hone your skills.
Advance your talent.
If you do, the end of 2017 will look much differently than it does right now.
And the communications planning you’ve done will have incredible results.
Photo credit: Vision Quest Coaching