Last year I bought a bicycle. In Berlin this is a rite of passage. It changes your whole experience of the city. I bought the bike off a friend, it’s not a fancy bike but she’s comfortable, red and white. I have affectionately named her ‘Cheeky Cherry’.
Up until then, it had been a long time since I rode a bike.
Shortly after my bike purchase, a friend invited myself and Cheeky Cherry to attend ‘Critical Mass’. It’s an event where hundreds of bikes take to the streets of Berlin and other cities as a form of advocacy. The bikes move in a large mass to completely take over the streets for an evening, taking up hundreds of meters of road at a time.
One thing I noticed was how everyone had their own cycling speed that they were comfortable with. At one point we had the pleasure to ride through a tunnel with a bit of a downhill run (Berlin is very flat). The confident cyclists zipped past me hooting and yipping out loud, enjoying the amplified sounds in the tunnel, others simply let gravity take their bike down the hill.
I, however, had my brakes firmly on. It was ‘better to be safe than sorry,’ I’d always been taught. Yet a small, child-like part of me was disappointed. How great would it have been to take the brakes off and let myself roll with the wind in my face? It would have been exhilarating. But no, that’s not for me. Not possible. I’m not good enough at this. I miss out.
In fact, I had my brakes so firmly on that I felt the bike start to lose balance. My own caution was the thing that might cause me to crash the bike. A certain amount of speed is required to keep a bike balanced. A bike standing still falls over.
Fortunately, I was able to adjust my speed and no crash occurred but this made me think about how often we put unnecessary brakes on in our lives and how these unnecessary brakes may be the very things that are causing us to struggle.
The thoughts and beliefs we have about ourselves and what’s possible for us can create very effective brakes, often unknowingly.
If you are working towards a goal and it’s just not happening then it’s quite likely that you’ve got the brakes on somewhere. You’re holding yourself back and quite likely your ‘bike’ is wobbling a little bit. You may feel discontent, frustrated, self-criticism is kicking in. If nothing is working despite your efforts – you may have even left your metaphorical hand-brake on.
What fun and exhilaration could be waiting for you just around the corner if you risked taking the brakes off, going a little faster, being a little bolder?
Let this year be the year that you take the brakes off and give yourself what you need in order to live your dream creative life.
Ps. I’ll be sending out the sequel to this post firstly to the special people on my mailing list. I’ll share more about the ways we keep the brakes on without realising it and how to get rid of things that are creating drag in your life. If you want to be one of the first to read it, sign up below.