A new year brings new goals and new challenges. Our shiny ambitious goals can come to a sudden halt if they aren’t set up properly. Will power and motivation are the last things that will come to rescue you when you fell off the wagon. You need applicable tools that can help you stay on track.
Every time we perform a habit, we execute a four-step pattern: cue, craving, response, reward. So think about the goal you set up for yourself and how you fell off the wagon. What triggered you? What was your reward? If we want to form new habits, we should make them obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. This is how we effectively create a new habit so “falling off the wagon” is difficult.
The following tips can apply to any intention that you recently slipped up on. They can apply to yoga, working out, drinking alcohol, working on your side hustle, or staying away from treats. The good news is: its easier to get back on the wagon than you think & all of your efforts leading up to it are not all lost. You can get back to a solid healthy path in no time.
If self-improvement is your thing like it is mine, check out my Mental Health Essentials.
I don’t know about you but when I slip up on an intention, I can really beat myself up about it. As this mind chatter continues, I find it even easier to slip further and further from my goals. Not drinking and eating healthy turned into a glass of wine, which turned into a bottle with my hubby, leading to excess shitting eating, and then binge dessert eating. Then the self-sabotage continues as I lay in bed, stomach aching, furious at myself for falling so hard off the wagon. Have you ever been there? I am assuming since you clicked onto these tips, that maybe you have.
Beating up on yourself will only keep you down longer. It’s this, “Well I already effed up mentality, I might as well keep it going.” So first things first, forgive yourself. Be gentle on your sweet body and mind. You were wise enough to create the goals and are wise enough to get back on the wagon. Find the good in your slip up. Maybe you had a great conversation with some friends, good laughs, let your body rest and recharge; find the silver lining.
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Set your new intention.
Ask yourself this, “Is the goal of ____ really obtainable?”
i.e Is it reasonable to expect my body workout every single day with no rest? Is it feasible to meal prep the cleanest meals possible and not get bored?
Maybe its time to shift your goal to be less rigid. Think logically. If you work every day for 8 hours, have 3 kids, and a busy schedule, a goal of getting a 2-hour workout in every day could be setting you up for failure. Set yourself up for success. Aim for a smaller goal. When you obtain that sustainable goal, you will feel good about yourself which will give you more and more momentum to keep going. You can always readjust.
Purge the trigger.
What was the “thing” that set you off? Triggers come in different forms; time, location, preceding event, and emotional state.
If you have ever walked into your kitchen, seen a plate of cookies on the counter, and eaten them just because they are there in front of you, then you understand the power of location on our behavior. In my opinion, location (i.e. environment) is the most powerful driver of mindless habits and also the least recognized. In many cases, our habits and behaviors are simply a response to the environment that surrounds us.
Here is one way to use location as a tool to your advantage. When its time to workout, I head to the garage and begin to set up my workout routine for the day. The location and simple act of writing down what I am going to be doing is a simple habit trigger that helps prompt my workout routine.
Time is perhaps the most common way to trigger a new habit. Common morning habits are just one example. Waking up in the morning usually triggers a cascade of habits: go to the bathroom, take a shower, brush your teeth, get dressed, make a cup of coffee, etc.
But what about when it’s not serving a healthy habit? Let’s say when dinner rolls around, your mind begins to crave wine (this is me). Now, you can get rid of a time of day, so you need to replace it with something. Maybe you don’t get a glass of wine but you can have a Kombucha in a wine glass. You must get rid of all the wine in the house and fill your fridge with drinks you can get excited about.
When it comes to changing our behavior, we all need to find out what works for us. What I have found works for me, is setting up a bulletproof system, tweaking it until it feels right, then relaxing into the habits.
Start somewhere and start now.
“Hesitation is the kiss of death. You might hesitate for a just nanosecond, but that’s all it takes. That one small hesitation triggers a mental system that’s designed to stop you.” – Mel Robbins
There is no amount of reading or a specific method that is going to make it easy. Motivation is BS. Take a lesson from Mel Robin’s 5 Second Rule. You create energy from your actions. The small right choices add up and create momentum. So take a step in the right direction. Take a step to the better version of you. If you slip up, whatever, you are human. Craft a better game plan for you that can be so bulletproof, its difficult to fail. You’ve got this.
“You aren’t battling your ability to stick to a diet, execute a business plan, repair a broken marriage and rebuild your life, hit your goals, or win over a bad manager- you are battling your feelings about doing it. You are more than capable of doing the work to change anything for the better, despite how you feel. Feelings are merely suggestions, ones you can ignore. To change you must do the same, you must ignore how you feel, and just do it anyway.”
If any of this information resonated with you, check out the books I reference below. They are hugely powerful in the way I navigate my world and I hope they can serve you as they have me.