It’s January 2016, and the New Year is upon us. The world is awash with people making the most of this clean slate by setting goals, trying to give things up, or resolutely sticking to their guns and carrying on with old habits regardless. As it happens I’m not a new year’s resolution kind of guy, as I made very clear in a previous post: ‘not my new year’s resolutions’.
However, all this talk of giving things up got me thinking – if I was the type to make new year’s resolutions what would I be thinking about giving up (thinking about, you’ll notice, not actually…)
It would have to be something I do to excess, so writing blog posts about the weather, perhaps, or maybe boring my wife to tears with out of context pro-cycling analysis. Could I really give up either of these deeply ingrained habits?
Maybe I need to go for the big prize. Much as I enjoy…no, am obsessed with riding my bike, maybe, implausibly, I could give up cycling?
Thanks to Strava I know for a fact that in 2015 I spent 210 hours and 8 minutes on my bike. That kind of cold statistical detail puts a whole new spin on things. It equates to 8.7 complete days on the bike, which sounds a lot, but is actually only 2.4% of the year. That means that for 97.6% of the year I wasn’t riding my bike, which in anyone’s books is irrefutable evidence that I do not cycle to excess.
On that basis, I definitely won’t be giving up cycling.
What this does tell me, however, is that if I did give up cycling I would have 210 hours and 8 minutes of spare time to dedicate to some other, maybe more useful pursuit.
Maybe I could take up knitting?
A brief trawl of knitting forums on the internet – not a world I’m familiar with, I have to say – gives me the impression that, after making the rather large assumption that I know my way around a pair of knitting needles, it takes around 20 hours to knit a jumper. With my new found free time I could reasonably rattle out 10 ½ jumpers per year – that’s practically a cottage industry. Get the timing right and I could produce jumpers with baubles, reindeers, and Santa suits on them, to service the annual ‘comedy’ Christmas jumper market.
But why restrict myself to knitting Christmas jumpers?
In his 2008 book ‘Outliers’, Malcolm Gladwell put forward the now much-touted theory that to become an expert in a given field is less to do with any kind of natural ‘talent’, and more to do with around 10,000 hours of practice. The obvious conclusion here is that if I give up cycling and fixate on something else, then in just 47 ½ short years I could be world class at whatever activity I chose.
I could be the world’s top ranked octogenarian tennis player, or a professional footballer with the technical ability of Lionel Messi in the body of a crumbling old man. Which, thinking about it, doesn’t sound all that appealing.
Back to plan A I think: stick rigidly to all my old habits regardless, continue cycling, and leave the Christmas jumper production line to someone else.
In fact, after analysing the numbers I reckon I need to work on my percentages in 2016. If I’m spending 97.6% of my time not cycling then, strictly speaking, finding a better way to spend my time should involve more cycling.
That’s a plan.
You could even call it a New Year’s resolution.