by | Aug 25, 2020 | 4 comments

December 31st, 2019 … you were full of anticipation, hope, ambition, courage.   The clock struck midnight, and whether you were out partying or already asleep (I feel certain I was the latter!), a shiver of excitement ran through you … “2020 is my year.  This is the year I finally make my goals happen.”

Maybe, you crushed it in January.  Maybe, you even crushed it for the first few months of the year.  Then … life got in the way.  The pandemic hit.  You got laid off.  The kids needed your attention.  You were fighting tooth and nail to keep your business alive.  You were hit with anxiety.  You lost focus.  You beat yourself up.  You said you’d restart Monday … you didn’t.  You said you’d restart June 1st … you didn’t.  You said you’d restart when things went back to normal … they haven’t.

It’s a vicious cycle, right?

And even though situations will change (goodness knows, I hope 2021 will be a bit easier on us than 2020 has been), life always happens.  Life always gets in the way.  We will get off track, every single one of us.

And that’s OK!  I believe that the real victory is NOT in never getting off track (because I think that’s unrealistic).  The real victory is in shortening the time and effort it takes to recommit to your goals.

Shortening the time and effort

In the past, I’d say things like “I won’t eat sugar for 7 days straight!”

  • Day 1 … I made it.
  • Day 2 … feeling wobbly, but I got through.
  • Day 3 … something super stressful happened at work, I made a beeline to the chocolate, and then beat myself up inexorably. I thought things like, “I’ll never be able to break my addiction to sugar!  I might as well eat sugar after every single meal and not even try.  I’m a miserable failure.  I never accomplish anything in life.  I’m a miserable failure!”  Phew … all that … over a piece of chocolate?

Now, I don’t really set things like that for myself, because I prefer peace and stability in my food decisions, but let’s say I did.

  • Day 1 … I made it.
  • Day 2 … feeling wobbly, but I got through.
  • Day 3 … something super stressful happened at work, I made a beeline to the chocolate, stopped myself after a piece or two, realized it wasn’t actually solving the problem, put it down, went for a walk instead, celebrated myself for catching myself, and recommitted RIGHT THEN to finishing the 7 days. No beating myself up.  No second guessing what happened.  Just recommitting to the goal at hand.

Doesn’t the second scenario feel way more pleasant?  And doesn’t it also lead you far closer to your goals (after all, in the second scenario, I had 6 days without sugar, vs. 2 days in the first scenario)?  I promise you, the key to success is in shortening the time and effort it takes to recommit to your goals.

How to Get Back on Track

So, how do you actually do that?  How do you get back on track when you feel you’ve strayed from your goals?  I have 7 steps to share with you below.  Enjoy!

  1. Acknowledge the situation and release guilt. What’s done is done.  You can’t change the fact that whatever happened happened.  So, no use belaboring the point.  Simply acknowledge that things didn’t go according to plan (rather than trying to ignore it or not “admit” it) and release any guilt that may arise when you think about this.  You are not a bad person. You are not incapable of achieving your goals.  You simply hit a speed bump.  Don’t make that speed bump a roadblock by lounging in guilty feelings.  Let them go!
  2. Reflect upon what got you off track so you can learn. I embrace failure because it helps me learn.  In fact, I think there’s no such thing as real failure, unless I don’t learn a lesson from whatever went awry.  Each time I miss a goal, or get off track, I spend a few brief moments reflecting on what happened.  Ate Chik-Fil-A because you hadn’t food prepped and worked later than you anticipated?  Great – lesson learned that keeping some homemade meal options in the freezer would benefit you!  Skipped your workout because work got too crazy?  Great – lesson learned that morning workouts might serve your busy schedule more.
  3. Remember your why. Hopefully, you had a deep-rooted reason behind your goal in the first place. This “why” helps us stay motivated when times get tough.  It helps us refocus on not just the tactics it will take to get to the goal, but the way we will feel when we achieve it.  And if your “why” is worth fighting for, then certainly, you won’t let a speedbump get in your way.
  4. Take (small) action right away. Committed to exercising daily but skipped a day?  As soon as you realize it, do something small.  Even if it’s 2 minutes before your bedtime, simply do 2 push-ups or 5 squats.  Is either of those enough to revolutionize your fitness?  Certainly not.  But these small acts are a representation of your commitment, and a renouncing of the “I’ll start again tomorrow” line that often spirals us downwards.  Don’t start tomorrow, restart today, even if it’s in a small form!
  5. Amend your goal and create a new action plan. Calling off a goal because it won’t happen perfectly only leaves you right back where you started … at the beginning.  Instead, amend your goal as needed, and get inspired and motivated about the new  If your original goal was 10 steps in one direction and you’re going to end up with 8 steps, that’s great, and far better than throwing up your hands and admitting defeat.
  6. Believe you can achieve this amended goal. Often, what throws us off can be a simple lack of belief in ourselves and our abilities to reach our goals.  Before reengaging in your goal, ensure that you genuinely believe in your ability to reach it.  This self-belief is critical to your success.
  7. Get help. If you feel your goal is too much to reach on your own, enlist an accountability buddy, a partner, a friend, or a coach (of course, I’d love to help, and you can see more about my services here). Achieving goals on your own is not a badge of honor, and if it takes support to help you get there, by all means, get that support!

 

Now it’s your turn … What’s one goal where you feel you’ve gotten off track (hey, we’ve all been there!)?  Which of the tactics are you going to use to get back on track?

4 Comments

  1. Celia

    Thank you, Megan, for your gentle reminders to keep me or get me back on track. Your message is always right on!

    Reply
  2. Jenny Schmitt

    Needed this. Needed it so much shared it on Twitter because I know I’m not alone.

    Reply

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Megan Lyons Headshot

Hi! I'm Megan Lyons,

the voice behind The Lyons’ Share. I love all things health, wellness, and fitness-related, and I hope to share some of my passion with you. Thanks for stopping by!
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