Is it good to make New Year's resolutions?
Many people take advantage of these dates to make New Year's resolutions. Knowing how to face them is very important to avoid regretting not having fulfilled them at the end of December. Proposing to finish the year with certain kilometers in our legs, saving to change bikes or going out to ride certain days a week can be useful to achieve these goals.
Making New Year's resolutions: is it beneficial?
Going to the gym, reading more or eating better are some of the most popular resolutions, just as some cyclists also set out to end the year achieving various goals. But whether they are beneficial or a source of frustration depends, to a large extent, on how we approach them.
Although it is not very clear how many people make New Year's resolutions, there is a broad consensus that most do not keep them. For example, a 2019 survey by Statista reflected that only 9% of Americans had kept them throughout the year, while 88% had left them off at some point and 12% did not have any.
Setting a goal and not achieving it can make us feel bad about ourselves. If we listen to statistics, the best thing to do is not to have New Year's resolutions to save ourselves from guilt, frustration or anxiety, since we will most likely not achieve them.
The New Year's resolutions are not the problem, the problem is not knowing how to approach them
However, it would be unfair to assign all these negative feelings to New Year's resolutions. The truth is that it can benefit us to make resolutions, such as to run certain kilometers during the year, to participate in that race we are longing for or to reach the top of that mountain pass in less than a certain amount of time.
Motivation, an essential ingredient
Evolution works against us. Our living conditions have changed faster than evolution itself works and so we retain impulses and behaviors from when our lives were much more primitive.
Knowing this, it is much easier to understand why we prefer to stay on the couch than to put on our jersey and go out pedaling. We are made to choose the option that will make us spend less energy, as it is a legacy from when energy saving was vital for our survival.
Choosing an action that will benefit us in the future - such as training to achieve the weight we want - is a decision that contradicts our instinct to always reward the action that will give us an immediate reward. And this is where motivation comes into play
Motivation will always be our best ally. Setting ourselves the goal of enduring at a specific wattage for a certain number of kilometers can be really difficult to achieve if we lack motivation. This is due to the motivation-dopamine relationship. The more dopamine (and motivation), the less effort we will have to put into our long-term goals..
New Year's resolutions must meet the following requirements
Having explained the importance of motivation, the success of New Year's resolutions will depend on their fulfillment of a series of conditions.
In statements to Europa Press, psychologist José García Donate gives importance to focus on a few goals instead of having a long list of resolutions.
The psychologist explains that they must be realistic. Everyone has to evaluate their context and set goals according to their capabilities. If we are novice cyclists, it will be of little use to set ourselves the goal of matching the times of people much more experienced and trained than us.
Donate also points out that it can be useful to set intermediate goals. Even if the final goal is well defined, it is good to set some objectives to achieve in the short-medium term. This can be a great confidence boost to achieve resolutions that require a change in routine or quitting or starting new habits.
Sharing resolutions with other cyclists or with your environment can serve some people as a point of support and as help; state the resolutions as something specific and avoid vague phrases; or accept that we will not always be able to achieve them are other tips that can be useful.
The brain and the new year
New Year's resolutions have the advantage that, by making them when the year changes, we mentally feel more willing to adopt new habits. The brain also reacts to moments of change, such as the beginning of a new year.
We have to take advantage of this because, of course, the change of year does not change us or what surrounds us. Circumstances are the same, but having New Year's resolutions and planning them in the right way can be good to climb that mountain pass that resists us or to take the bike as many times a week as we have proposed. However, motivation and perseverance come first.