“Help, I’ve fallen and can’t get up.”
We’ve all heard the catchphrase, right? As soon as I hear it, I picture the black and white footage of some poor, helpless person lying on the floor.
I know, I know; that’s an odd intro to a post on a blog about committing to daily self-improvement, but hear me out. This article is my first post in over two months, and this isn’t something that makes me particularly proud.
Over the past couple of months, I let life derail my personal goals. I was in the middle of remodeling my kitchen, work was unusually busy, and it just seemed like I couldn’t get my head above water.
I actually felt like I couldn’t get back into my routine. I felt stuck. And even after those distractions were gone and out of the way, I still felt like I couldn’t get back into my groove.
On this blog, I talk about starting new things and sticking to them, so does falling off for over two months make me a hypocrite? I don’t think so. I’m human.
When we set out to start new things and set new goals, we begin with this surge of positive energy and excitement, but somewhere along the way, you might lose it. When that happens, how do we get back on track? How do we overcome setbacks?
This is a story of why my blog went over two months with no new content, and it includes some simple advice for getting back into the swing of things and for overcoming setbacks in life.
1. The Routine
I’m a guy who thrives in my daily routine. It’s how I manage most aspects of my life, and it’s how I accomplish my goals. My average weekday looks something like this:
5:00 a.m. | Wake up, mix up my pre-workout, and drive to the gym.
5:20 a.m. | Walk a few laps to wake up, pick a podcast, and get in about an hour of lifting.
6:30 a.m. | Head home and blend a fruit and protein smoothy to wash down my vitamins.
6:45 a.m. | Spend about 45 minutes reading a book or writing on this blog.
7:30 a.m. | Grab a shower and get ready for the office.
So, this is my morning routine throughout the week, and I go to bed at 9:30 p.m. to get enough sleep. It’s vital for me to keep this routine going for a lot of reasons. My wife has even mentioned (on more than one occasion) that my mood varies drastically when I skip the gym.
But, that’s not all. When I forgo my trip to the gym, I tend to forget the smoothy, which causes me to miss my vitamins, and then I tend to eat worse throughout the day. It’s a vicious cycle!
2. The Routine Collapses
A couple of months ago I found myself buried with work, both at home and at the office. At work, I was dealing with the fallout from restructuring our company’s workflow and processes, and at home, I was dealing with some DIY remodeling.
Unfortunately, the remodel included an 875 square feet tile job, which I had planned to complete by taking a week off from work, but I needed to get ahead at the office before I could check out for that long.
As much as I love my routine, I felt I needed to start using my morning writing time to get a jump on my day instead. Mistake #1.
I also started working later in the evenings which caused me to get to bed much later than I usually do. Mistake #2.
As I muddled my way through “getting ahead” at the office, my week off was getting closer, and in a flash, it came. I told my wife “If I’m going to get this tiling done, I’m really going to have to put in some hours, so I’m going to skip the gym this week and get an early start on tiling instead.” Mistake #3.
Long story short, the tile job took much, much longer than a week, but I couldn’t afford any more time off from the office. I started tiling in the evenings, getting office work done in the mornings, all why ignoring my routines and goals.
Overall, I lost about a month and a half of writing time. But hey, my floors are done!
3. Getting the Groove Back
Does this sound familiar? You try to do something new, but real life sets in and takes over. It happens all the time, and it can be tough getting back into the groove.
For me, ditching my routine had many adverse effects. As I mentioned, my wife says my mood is different when I skip the gym. I have a harder time dealing with negativity, and my energy takes a hit. Where I would typically see a challenging situation as an opportunity for growth, I would now see a frustrating situation that would ruin my day.
I’m not saying that I was angry or sad all day every day, but my ability to deal with negatively or adversity had dwindled, as did my motivation to get back in the gym.
In fact, this morning I was on my way to the gym for the first time in about two months, and I thought “I just don’t feel like doing this today. How am I going to get back into my groove?” My energy and positivity had sunk so low that I didn’t want to listen to podcasts like I usually do at the gym.
I honestly didn’t even want to workout.
I had to Snap Out of It!
I almost, almost, just turned on Spotify and went through the motions half-heartedly. But I didn’t. I thought to myself “I have to snap out of this!” and I turned on High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard, and I focused all my attention on getting back to my routine.
I love Brendon’s work, and I want to say that his podcast gave me the jolt I needed to jump-start my routine again, but I don’t think that was it. It was as if my habits are so ingrained that going to the gym alone was not enough to get me going, but the mixture of the physical workout and the mental focus that the podcast demanded activated my internal processes.
The gym is where I usually do my best thinking, and suddenly thoughts and ideas started coming to me. My passion and energy were coming back. I suddenly saw myself shooting for the 1250lb club again which is something I had achieved a little over a year ago but most likely could not repeat today.
I instantly started thinking about the half-read book I had sitting at home and my blog that I had so long neglected.
In just the short ride home I had already started mentally outlining this post. My mental block was gone, and I had the awesome realization that, for better or worse, it was all tied to my routine.
You might be thinking “But Austin, just this morning you had little hope of getting back into the swing of things. You’re telling me that one trip to the gym and a podcast later and you’re back?”
Trust me, I’m just as shocked as you are and I’ll be doing some research on psychological aspects of habits and routines soon, but in the meantime, if you’re having trouble getting back to a goal, here are a couple of things you can try:
1. Don’t view your goals as optional.
For me, going to the gym is never an option. Sure, I skipped it for my tile job because I didn’t have the physical energy to do both, but this morning I went back. I didn’t want to, and I didn’t feel like it, but I went because it’s hugely important to me.
As soon as you view your goal as an option, you’ve lost. You will find a way to talk yourself out of following through. Don’t do that. Getting back to the gym was the first step in getting my routine back on track. Read more about Optional vs. Nonnegotiable Habits here.
2. Define your nonnegotiable habits.
Most of the time, I listen to podcasts at the gym. They give me perspective, positive energy, and inspiration, but I often viewed them as optional. Sometimes I listen to music instead.
After today, podcasts are no longer just an option for me because I’ve realized they are a massive contributor to my mindset. After today, podcasts are going to join going to the gym as a non-negotiable habit.
3. Keep trying. Never quit.
Daily New Year’s is all about starting fresh every single day. So you failed today? Who cares! You have tomorrow…and the next day. Just keep trying. Learn about yourself and what makes you tick. Figure out what your stumbling blocks are and avoid them. Read books about psychology, personalities, and personal development.
Whatever you do, just don’t get discouraged. I got discouraged over the past month, and fortunately, I snapped out of it with the help of some endorphins and a podcast, but maybe you need a mentor or a friend for support. Those are the types of things you need to figure out so that you can set yourself up to succeed.
I know this was a long post, but thanks for sticking with it. I usually write more about advice, tips, and tricks on the topic of goal setting, but today I wanted to show that we all fall. Just because I’m passionate about this topic does not mean that I don’t fail on some of my goals.
The most important thing to remember is, you can always try again. You’ve only failed when you decide to quit.
Have you had a significant set back on a goal you’ve been trying to achieve? Did you keep going or throw in the towel? Please join the conversation and let me know in the comments below!
Have a terrific day and, remember, keep getting better every day!