Resolutions are like Pelotons – they just sit there

I got a Peloton this December and I don’t expect you or anyone to give a crap.

Few things are as boring as someone else’s fitness regimen. Next.

And, if you ask me, New Year’s resolutions are about as interesting as exercise equipment: It’s great that you have it, but it just sits there until you use it, and it’s pretty pointless until you do. Having it isn’t an accomplishment.

The temptation is to make big sweeping New Years gestures, but my most effective resolution last year was to stop selling shit on Craigslist. It was like trying to coordinate a Tinder date except instead of cocktails, one person walks away with a dresser, the other with $20. I stopped doing it, and stopped thinking about it. That’s what I expect of a resolution; practical, useful, doable. I don’t expect them to be fun for anyone else.

My other resolution for 2020 was—get this—to stay in more.

Nailed it.

It’s not that I don’t think we should plan for big things for 2021. But I had big plans this time last year, including a roster of speaking engagements—I just didn’t have them for long.

Given the circumstances and the constraints, we should be proud of what we DID get done this year—half of which we didn’t realize we’d be doing until we were doing it. And we certainly didn’t know it on Jan 1.

A Peloton was not on my wish list for 2020, or 2021. I thought it was for other, fitness-obsessed people. I went for runs typically, did yoga. Then, a combination of pandemic + plantar fasciitis meant I wasn’t going to a yoga studio and I wasn’t going running.

My sister Kim encouraged me to take a ride on her Peloton this past fall. I did. I wasn’t in love by the end; I was sweaty.

Later that evening, Kim said, “You should get one.” Really? Me? Could I do that? My sister is ripped. She hasn’t missed a workout in 12 years. Turns out, you don’t have to be like her or one bit special to own and use that bike. You also don’t need resolve; you need a credit card.

Choosing to buy a Peloton was like deciding to have sex for the first time: I was late to the party, and not averse to the idea; I just had been going without it for so long, making do in other ways, that it hadn’t occurred to me. When I realized I had no reason not to, I thought ok. Let’s do this.

I’ll add that both my sisters live in Massachusetts and have children and houses and cars, and Pelotons. I live in New York and don’t have any of those things. But a bike I could do. The breakthrough was this: I didn’t have to warm up to the idea or establish a Big Intention. I could just … do it.

So there it was: A decision I hadn’t considered making, was made. My bike was delivered on December 1st and every morning since, my sisters and I check in about what ride we’re each doing. I went from never giving it a thought to rarely missing a day.

I didn’t change who I was; I just changed what I did.

The point is this: What you want to do has less to do with what you think about it, and more to do with what you do about it.

If this year taught us anything, it’s that our ability to adapt to change and make change will surprise us. And that the point of doing anything is the connection it brings. We can do things we didn’t think we could, and look at that! We did them.

In contrast, resolutions are the air kisses of goals: big dramatic public displays of friendliness and cheer and good intention. If you want to make change, you have to do more than pucker up and promise to meet up for lunch.

So, surprise yourself with action. Any action. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg like that bike. Fuck that bike. Don’t get hung up on who you’ll be; focus instead on what you’ll do next.

(Psst. The difference between people who do a thing and mean to do a thing? How often you start. Join me for five free days of writing sessions to get you moving on the page with Start Writing, Jan 4-8th, 2021. Register here.)