Let’s Ditch The Resolutions Already
After a month of festivities and a relaxed approach to everything around Christmas, January can feel like a punch in the teeth. You’ve been happily riding your bike when you please (and not when you don’t), munching on whatever you fancy, watching mindless rubbish on the TV if you get the notion and just generally enjoying being yourself without overthinking anything.
All of a sudden, that’s no longer appropriate or good enough. ‘New Year, New You’ shouts every magazine on the stand, urging you to look deeply within and analyse every fibre of your being before committing to make changes that are most likely to be difficult. Surely, if those changes weren’t important enough to make previously they needn’t assume such enormous significance just because it’s the first month of the year?
As someone who enjoys cycling for many reasons but notably the sense of wellbeing and positivity it brings, I find New Year’s Resolutions annoying. There you are, happily freewheeling along when all of a sudden the rug is pulled from under your feet. It’s a cruel trick to play in one of the darkest, coldest months, a time where you’re most likely to be skint and may not be overly enthusiastic about going back to work.
With epic bad timing, resolutions seem designed to make you feel inadequate. There’d be no need for a New You if there wasn’t anything wrong with the old you, would there? Fashion, the media and cultural trends subtly influence so much of the way we feel about ourselves no matter how much we want to remain unaffected, from how we should look, how we should behave and what we should consider important all the way through to what we should eat and how we should be exercising (including which body parts to focus on!). It’s in brands and (some) media outlets self interest to perpetuate the myth that you’re not good enough as it creates a cycle of desire for products, services and information.
We must resist this manipulation. There’s nothing wrong with the old you (unless of course you’re Donald Trump or a criminal). In my opinion, the long winter months should be a time to make yourself feel good by whatever means necessary, not a period in which to berate yourself. It should be a time to look outward and gather rewarding experiences rather than navel gaze, whether that’s braving the chill for a crisp morning ride or cuddling up on the sofa with your cats and a cup of hot chocolate. It’s a time to be acceptant, of yourself and of others; not a time to find fault with everything that is you.
The New Year is, however, good for one kind of self-reflection, a minor change that is only positive and in no way critical of oneself. As the year comes to an end and the new one begins I like to cast my mind back over the last twelve months and remember all the things I’ve done, the places I’ve been and the new things I’ve tried. Whilst reminiscing about the experiences and looking through my blog and videos I make a mental note of the things I enjoyed the most. And I notice if there were any that were a bit ‘meh;’ slightly tedious or underwhelming.
For me, some of the highlights were weekends with friends when the emphasis was just on having fun with no ‘goal,’ like the time I went mountain biking with Anna Glowinski in Cornwall or rode my motocross bike with my friend Gemma and the girls from VC London. I also realised how much I enjoy Sportives and climbing mountains, riding bikes just for the fun of it. At the other end of the spectrum, fixed gear crit racing, a very goal oriented practice remains a real highlight.
So what I like to do at the start of the year is just make a decision to do more of the things I enjoy in the next twelve months. Imagining all the fun stuff you’re going to do is a really good way to bring a smile to your face, making for a positive start to the year. I also like to take some time to really appreciate my health, my life and the people in it and realise how fortunate I am. Then I give myself a big pat on the back and tell myself ‘you’re doing alright!’