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New Year’s resolutions, love em’ or hate em’, the start of a new calendar year offers an excellent opportunity to reflect on what has happened over the past 12 months and set some goals for the 12 that lie ahead. Of course, you can set goals at any time of the year, but you know you’re going to be asked by at least one person about how you’re planning to improve your habits in 2021. And being a cyclist and all, don’t you want to impress them with the well-thought-out plan you have for fine-tuning your skills?

Joking aside though, resolutions really can help get you to where you want to be, assuming you approach them mindfully. Let’s take a look at some tried and tested methods for setting effective New Year’s cycling resolutions that you’ll be able to look back on with pride in a year from now.

Winter cycling
You have to be able to describe what exactly you want to do and specify when and where you’re going to do it. © Profimedia

Be honest about where you’re at now

Everyone will tell you to be realistic when setting goals and resolutions, and that really cannot be overstated. But maybe the best way to do it is to do an honest inventory of where you’re at right now. It can be easy to overestimate or underestimate ourselves depending on how we’re feeling on any given day. Allow your New Year’s cycling resolutions to be something you spend time thinking over and avoid letting your emotional state dictate your response. Make a list of all the resolutions that come to mind, then take a few days to mull them over before making a commitment.

Break the year down into segments

If you have a hard time looking at the big picture or struggle to maintain motivation, it’s a good idea to break the year down into smaller chunks to help keep your eye on the prize and your spirits high. Setting 12 small goals for 12 months is a great way to make a lot of progress while getting the influx of “fresh start” energy at the beginning of every month. This is an excellent strategy if you’re hoping to improve your performance in certain areas, have your sights on a specific event, or want to stay motivated for something that still feels far away. Monthly goals also provide variety and keep things interesting while you work towards your more ambitious long-term plan.

Cycling race
The science of behavioural change suggests that you should set up your resolutions in a way that least disturb your current routine. © Profimedia

Remember that it doesn’t have to be increasing your athletic prowess

Sure, you may want to set a mileage goal or improve your time over a certain distance, but for some of us, New Year’s cycling resolutions dedicated to finding time to relax or focus on a healthy balance are really what the doctor ordered. I think we can all agree that 2020 was a stressful year, so maybe what you need going forward is a commitment to providing yourself with a little self-care. For many cyclists, this doesn’t come easily, but it’s crucial to ensuring that your relationship with cycling continues to be a positive one.

Different approaches work better depending on the individual, so do some research to determine what will have the best outcome for you. This could be attending a weekly online yoga class or setting aside 10 minutes each morning for meditation. It might also mean just planning a ride once a month that isn’t about achieving a certain cadence, distance, or heart rate but is instead dedicated to enjoying the wind blowing in your hair and the countryside flying past you.

Make fun resolutions

We seem to think that resolutions have to involve an element of suffering or deprivation to be taken seriously, but that is not the case. Your cycling resolutions can be all about having more fun doing the sport you love and venturing outside of your comfort zone. Commit to introducing a friend to cycling in 2021, trying a different discipline, or even donating to a cycling organisation that inspires you. There are so many ways we can be better members of the cycling community that have nothing to do with numbers or KOMs.

Mountain biking
Introduce your friends to cycling. © Profimedia

Tell your friends (if you’re comfortable with it)

Generally speaking, sharing your resolutions with those around you can bring two-fold benefits; you’ll experience a higher degree of accountability and hopefully more support. Especially if you’ve got friends and family who are good at providing encouragement and helping you be your best self, then sharing your goals for the year is highly recommended. That being said, for some, the spectre of quitter’s guilt can hurt your performance before you’re even out of the gate. So, if you’d prefer to keep your resolutions to yourself, that’s okay too.

Develop a strategy for dealing with slip-ups

Finally, it is essential to go into the new year with a promise to be gentle with yourself and not fall into the all or nothing trap that is such an effective roadblock to achieving one’s goals. Over the year, ask yourself if you’re making the progress you need to stay on track or if it might be time to adapt your training (or your expectations) to better suit where you’re at right now. Be mindful of the fact that falling off the wagon doesn’t mean its game over. Just accept where you’re at – regroup, adjust your plan as needed, and keep working towards your goal. Overcoming obstacles is just part of the process, and will end up making your triumph all the more satisfying.