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6 Ways My Daily Walk Drives My Success

A daily walk is a non-negotiable part of the Modern Mentor's workday. Learn how she uses that time to deliver outcomes that keep her in the zone of success.

By
Rachel Cooke
4-minute read
Episode #653
The Quick And Dirty

Taking a daily walk can help you achieve whatever version of success you're chasing. Here are six things daily walking can deliver:

  1. Mental break
  2. Physical exercise
  3. Rehearsal space
  4. Achievement
  5. Self-care
  6. Learning

In my line of work, each day looks totally different. Some days may be all meetings, others all research, and other days are spent with clients. And then there’s the pile of everything else it takes to keep a business running.

The guts of my days don’t offer much consistency. So I create my own with a handful of non-negotiable daily practices. For me it’s Bulletproof coffee, my Bullet Journal, a workout, and my daily walk. Whatever else may be screaming for my attention, these are my untouchables. 

You may grimace at the thought of butter in your coffee (that one took me a minute to get used to), or you may prefer one of a million different planners out there. But if you’re looking to add something to your day that will inch you further into your zone of success, you may want to consider a daily walking practice.

Here are six ways I use my daily walk to keep me winning:

Why Walking Works #1:  It offers a mental break 

Whether preparing to deliver a tough client message, researching a complex challenge, or just juggling too many things at once, my instinct is always to push through. In this sense, my instinct is typically wrong.

I’ve learned that when the dial gets turned up to 11 for me, the mental break of a walk – a few minutes to clear my head and refuel my tank is just the thing I need to make the creative break. I always come back to my desk more ready than I was before to get the hard thing done.

Why Walking Works #2:  It improves stamina

Doing what I do – supporting clients, running my business, staying connected to my kids – takes boatloads of energy. I can’t do it with an empty tank. So that daily walk is not only an opportunity for mental recharge, but it’s part of what keeps my body strong, my stamina up. 

Ironically, I’ve learned, that running a 90-minute meeting on Zoom can be more energy-depleting than running an eight-hour in-person session. It’s a different energy drain. But I need to keep mine high, and the walks really help. I return to my desk feeling stronger, tougher, and like I’m in control of my day rather than a slave to it.

Why Walking Works #3:  It offers rehearsal space

I use my walking time to rehearse anything giving me pause or anxiety. I pop in my headphones (so I look like I’m on the phone!) and I use my walking time to practice difficult conversations, upcoming presentations, or an anticipated coaching moment that may be hard to deliver.

Can I rehearse these things at my desk? Sure. But I find the combination of working my mind while I’m moving my body leaves me freer to experiment with the approach I ultimately take.

Why Walking Works #4:  It boosts achievement

Every day, “take a walk” lives on my to-do list. And every evening it’s crossed off. No matter what else comes up or what ball I may drop (oh yes – I’m an occasional ball dropper), taking that walk is a promise I make and keep.

Saying you’re going to do something and then doing it increases your self-efficacy – your trust and belief in yourself to do what you’ve committed. And it becomes a virtuous cycle – the more promises you make and keep, the more promises you keep making and keeping.

So, my daily walk is a way of keeping myself honest – of reminding myself that I keep the promises I make. I love that feeling.

Why Walking Works #5:  It improves self-care 

Some days it just feels like everyone needs me – clients, kids, parents, the paparazzi…(Ok not the paparazzi, that one’s a bit aspirational). But I feel like I’m pulled in a million directions. We all feel that way sometimes.

My walking time is my me-time. It’s a window in which I give myself permission to focus only on me and what I need in that moment. Sometimes it’s deep breathing and being in nature. Sometimes it’s listening to music or catching up on a beloved podcast. Sometimes it’s chatting with a friend.

I never feel guilty or apologize for how I spend this time. It’s mine and I protect it fiercely. And in return, it protects me too – from burnout, overwhelm, and the risk of screaming something unforgivable at a kid.

Why Walking Works #6:  It offers an opportunity for learning 

And last but so definitely not least, I do my best learning while walking. As a kid I did well in school. I’d sit through lectures, read the textbooks, and review my notes over and over and over again.

But as an adult, I’ve learned – largely by accident – that I absorb information so much more effectively if I consume it while I’m moving. And yes, there is scientific evidence to support this assertion. So when I’m not rehearsing a presentation or chatting to a friend, I’m often listening to an audiobook, or a podcast on business development strategies, or copywriting, or a multitude of things I’m still learning to do more effectively.

Have I managed to convince you that a daily walking practice may just be worth your while? If you use your walk to achieve something different, I’d love to hear all about it. 

About the Author

Rachel Cooke

Rachel Cooke is a leadership and workplace expert who holds her M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. Founder of Lead Above Noise, she has been named a top 100 Leadership Speaker by Inc. Magazine and has been featured in Fast Company, The Huffington Post, and many more.