When it comes to our health it can be easy to get knocked off track. But, no matter how dark it gets, you’re never out of the fight.
When it comes to our health, even at the best of times when our sleep, food and fitness are on point, it can be easy to get knocked off track.
We all know the feeling. Work suddenly gets busy and you miss a couple of training sessions. You have a couple of late nights and cooking is swapped for convenience. The weather gets colder and darker and hitting snooze becomes much more appealing than leaving the warm embrace of the duvet. And, before you know it, your momentum is stalling and the good habits you’ve built are starting to slip away.
BUT, no matter how grim your situation seems to be, you are never out of the game. You can always make a come back.
No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets or no matter how far you fall, you are never out of the fight.Marcus Luttrel, Lone Survivor
Having stumbles along the road don’t make you a failure, they make you human. The most successful people in the world slip up on their habits too. What separates them is their ability to get back on track quickly.
Habit formation hinges on your ability to bounce back. And sticking to good habits is not an all-or-nothing game. Habits are behaviours that we repeat consistently. However, they are not behaviours that we repeat perfectly.
This small idea — that consistency does not require perfection — is important.
The following 5 tactics can be used to help you regain your momentum when things are looking bleak. They are an amalgamation of ideas from the master of building habits, James Clear…
1. Avoid The Second Mistake
When it comes to building good habits and breaking bad habits, individual mistakes do not matter in the long-run. Rather, it is the second mistake that is far more important.
According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, missing any single day of a particular habit has no impact on your long-term ability to stick to the habit.
It doesn’t matter when it occurs, making a mistake and slipping up does not alter the long-term outcome if you find a way to get back on track. Furthermore, top performers in all fields make mistakes all the time.
Athletes skip workouts. Nutritionists eat unhealthy meals. These people are human, just like the rest of us. There are many points during their careers when they make a mistake, skip a session, and approach their tasks with zero enthusiasm.
What separates the elite performers from everyone else? Not perfection, but consistency. This is why the most important thing is not to prevent mistakes altogether, but to avoid making a mistake twice in a row.
Errors are part of the process, but they shouldn’t become part of the pattern. One mistake is just an outlier. Two mistakes is the beginning of a pattern.
Killing this pattern before it snowballs into something bigger is crucial to staying in the fight. So when you make a mistake:
Accept it has happened.
Allow yourself some slack in the knowledge that none of us are perfect.
Avoid the second mistake using whatever countermeasures you can.
2. Eliminate Distractions
Eliminate the things that take you off track. Some emergencies can’t be avoided, but there are many daily distractions that can be eliminated.
If you find yourself missing a habit, then take a moment to determine why that happened today. There is no need to judge yourself. Just examine your day with open eyes and determine what took you off course. Once you begin to discover the things that take you off course, you can eliminate them whenever possible.
Improve by subtracting. It is much easier to make the right decision if you are surrounded by better choices.
3. Focus On What You Have
We waste so much time focusing on what is withheld from us.
This is especially true after we slip up and get off track from our goals. Anytime we don’t do the things we want to do — eat healthy, go to the gym — we come up with excuses…
“I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have the right contacts. I don’t have enough experience. I need to learn more. I’m not sure what to do. I feel uncomfortable..”
A better way to think instead would be:
“I can work with this.”
It’s not easy, but your life will be better if you choose to feel uncomfortable and make progress, rather than complain and make excuses.
Shift your focus from what is withheld from you to what is available to you.
It’s rare that your circumstances prevent you from making any progress. You might not like where you have to start. Your progress might be slow and unsexy. But you can work with this.
4. Do Something Over Nothing
Just because it’s not optimal, doesn’t mean it’s not beneficial.
It’s so easy to get hung up on doing things the optimal way and end up preventing yourself from doing them at all. For example, eating healthy one day per week is better than none at all. Make that your goal to start: eat well every Monday.
Just because you can’t stick to the optimal schedule, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stick to it at all. Good habits are built gradually. Start slow, live your life, and get better along the way. Progress is a spectrum, not a specific place.
The optimal strategies will make the last 10% of difference. Meanwhile, 90% of your results will hinge on you simply sticking to the basics: don’t miss workouts, eat real food.
Master the fundamentals now. You can optimize the details later.
5. Care More
It sounds so simple, but make sure that the habits that you’re trying to stick to are actually important to you.
It’s remarkable how much time people spend chasing things that they don’t really care about. Then, when they don’t achieve them, they beat themselves up and feel like a failure for not achieving something that wasn’t important to them all along.
You only have so much energy to put towards the next 24 hours. Pick a habit that you care about. If it really matters to you, then you’ll find a way to make it work.
Where To Go From Here
When you’re on your ‘A’ game it feels great: You workout 3 to 5 days a week, eat a clean healthy diet, sleep well and feel like you can take on any challenge thrown at you. Then life throws some curve balls into the mix and it seems like your old bad habits are beginning to come back into your life again.
For whatever reason—a holiday, relationship breakup, illness, injury and so on—you fell off your diet plan, skipped workouts, and lost motivation.
But you don’t have to get stuck in a downward spiral of negativity. You are only ever one good sleep, one quick workout or one decent meal away from being back on track.
Supposing you have tried and failed again and again. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”Mary Pickford
We’ve all messed up and fallen behind on our goals. I can think of countless times this year when my good plan for the day or even week has gone out of the window.
And some days I will feel like I’m making forward progress, whilst on the other days it seems like I’m taking two steps backwards. But, that’s the same for us all.
No matter the case, in the grand scheme of things, if you get back on track when you mess up, grind it out and stick to the plan, you may actually end up even further ahead than you ever imagined.
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