Fall in love with getting back on track

heart and arrow_269702When it comes to making life changes, consistently sticking to your plans is challenging.  Whether you’re trying to follow an exercise plan or cutting back on spending, there will be times of high motivation followed by serious lags. It’s tempting to give in – but consider:

“If you do not change direction, you may end up
where you are heading.”    
~Lao Tzu

When you give up, not only do you remain stuck but feelings of failure or even self-disgust can set in. We all know that the longer you flounder, the bigger the setback.  So why does it take so long to get back on track?

Consider these common reasons:

“It’s too hard!”
When you believe that a change will be near impossible or unsustainable, you’re jumping too far ahead. It’s important to choose small attainable steps and to know that you’ll get over the initial hump quickly. We forget that our perspective changes, often significantly, as we make gradual advances.  Get support, celebrate your successes, and switch your focus from catastrophic thoughts to what it will feel like to succeed! 

“I already blew it so I might as well give in.”
This type of ‘all or nothing’ thinking is common but will slow or halt your progress.  Since it’s highly unrealistic to sustain ‘all’, this perspective leads to the ‘nothing’ side of the equation far too often. Refuse to minimize your accomplishments! Would you tell a 5 year old that none of their efforts mattered, so why bother?  Obviously not, and the same goes for you. Instead, hold on to all your successes, however small, and don’t succumb to the false belief that they don’t make a difference.

“I can’t figure out what to do next!”
When initial attempts to change are unsuccessful, getting back on track becomes more than that. It becomes knowing whether to stick with the same approach or to try something new.  This is perhaps the most complex question of all, and involves several aspects:

  • Are you questioning whether you have the right plan?  When making changes, it’s important to believe in your planned course of action.  If you have doubts, they’ll eventually become reasons to abandon ship.  Seek help to review options and chose a plan that you can pursue with confidence. Talking things over can make an enormous difference.
  • Did you bite off too much?  You need to devote time to making changes. If you can’t find sufficient time to support your efforts, you may need to revise your timeframe or chose a smaller step that can be accomplished more readily.  Choose steps that feel manageable and they will be easier to accomplish!
  • Are you paying close enough attention to how you’re feeling?  If you’re experiencing feelings that conflict with your goals, they need your attention!  For example, if you deviate from a weight loss plan, perhaps you’re feeling bored or deprived.  By acknowledging these feelings instead of pushing them away, you have a better chance of remaining motivated. Have a dialog with the feelings and find creative ways to address your needs so they don’t interfere.  In the example above, you might give yourself a ‘pass’ for a day, or decide to make more satisfying meals while remaining within your eating plan.

Fall in love with getting back on track
If you accept that you’re not perfect and might slip off course at some point, then getting back on track becomes an important skill to develop. Instead of viewing the process as a mystery, understand the specific skills and choices discussed above and increase your odds of success.

When you’re in love you can’t wait to see your loved one because things just feel ‘right’ when you’re together.  Stepping back on track can mimic that sensation. You can learn to minimize the damage and love returning to your goals.

Consider these great benefits to fall in love with:
Feeling in control
Experiencing progress

Knowing you’re headed in the right direction
No longer having a schism between your intentions and your reality
Elimination of guilt or sinking feelings in your gut
Improved self-esteem and confidence
Feeling good!

Follow these six steps to get back on track:

  1. Admit that you’re strayed from your plan. It’s easy to spend weeks in denial.
  2. Take time to figure out what happened in order to make sense of it.  Many people don’t want to look back, but having the courage to do so will prevent you from remaining stuck.
  3. Set a reasonable date to start in on your goal again, being sure not to wait too long.  Sometimes a break is needed to deal with a stressful period or simply to re-charge.
  4. Define the parameters for the break, so that you don’t fall too far backwards.  (For example, if you can’t keep up an intensive exercise plan, you could at least walk a few times so that when you begin again it will be less daunting.)
  5. With your new understanding, re-think your plan and tweak it to make it workable.  As discussed above, talk this through with someone. If you have ADHD, this is even more important since examining options and making decisions is more challenging.
  6. Re-commit to your goal with your revised plan, knowing that you made the choice to stick with it!

When you get back on track, the experience is easy to fall in love with!