It happens to all of us. It generally hits me on Sundays, after I’m out of my standard daily routine from the week. All of my hard work of reaching my goals during the week sometime becomes lax. While I focus on healthy eating on a regular schedule during the week, I might make an exception for a piece of celebratory birthday cake on the weekend. Well, the one piece of birthday cake turns into indulging in some pizza the next day, and heck, while I’m at it, why not throw in a glass of soda, and since I’m off my game, I might as well skip my workout and wait until Monday to get back on track, right? That makes sense.
It can be any habit, not just food; from over-indulging in a bit of partying, losing focus on your daily prayer, letting your housework slip, or blowing your budget on an impromptu shopping spree. No matter your goals, when we let ourselves stumble, the repercussions can feel devastating. I’ve been there before – oh gosh, have I been there before! Instead of wallowing in self-pity or spiraling out of control, take charge in these moments and make the necessary change. Now. Not later. Not tomorrow. Not Monday. Now!
Starting Today: How to Get Back on Track
If you fall off track, you are not a bad person, nor are you a weak person. Last time I checked everyone loses focus from time-to-time, but it’s how you deal with the slip-up that defines you, not the slip itself. Empower yourself in these moments of weakness to take control using some positive strategies.
Create regular habits:
Make regular habits part of your normal routine. For years I was unhappy with my skin. I would try this product or that product, use a facial mask one week and not again for a few months. It wasn’t until I started a habitual routine that I actually saw results. I not only attribute this turn around to the products themselves but because I created a step-by-step routine that I never deviate from. How can you create a regular habit for your goals?
Schedule on your calendar:
Instead of arbitrarily saying that you’ll workout four times a week or that you’ll sit down to write blog posts three times a week, actually write it down and schedule it on your planner. Of course, life can get in the way, and you may need to be flexible with your scheduling, but you will have more success with sticking to your routine and maintaining your goals if you schedule the time for them.
Don’t just say, I need to change. What needs to change? I want to pray more. I need to lose weight. I want to see my girlfriends more. Dig deeper than these vague desires. What do you mean you want to pray more – what does that look like when you envision it? Instead, specifically recognize that you want to pray when you wake up and before bed every day. You want to lose 10% of your body weight as a first mile marker. You want to set a monthly dinner date with your girlfriends. When you think in specific terms, you will achieve greater success towards your goals.
Commit to your schedule (however you can):
To avoid getting out of your daily routines, do not make excuses. Instead, find ways to stick to your plan by modifying it to fit your schedule. Don’t have time for your full workout? Just do abs. Don’t have time to write a blog post? Write the first paragraph. If you slip up once in a while, you’re not a failure. One cheeseburger won’t derail your effort to eat healthy. One missed workout won’t make you fat. Forgetting to floss one night won’t give you gingivitis. Keeping to your schedule, even a modified version of it, will help promote your long-term success.
Find accountability partners:
You will always be more successful in your endeavors if you have people who not only support your goals but even share the same goals as you. I was most successful in my quest to live healthily when my family and friends were doing it with me. My husband and I are finally successful in our desire to deepen our faith by praying before bed each night in a new way. If you don’t have someone in your immediate life to share your ventures, join an online support group, Facebook group, etc. When you share your goal and routine with someone else and make it public, you feel more driven to follow through than if the goal was just in your head. With an accountability partner or support network, you’re accountable to more than yourself.
Focus on what’s within your reach:
Instead of making excuses, use positive language, directing your energy on what you can do, what you can manage. See, instead of making this title ‘No Excuses,’ I took out the restrictive language and negativity and put a positive direction to it. When you say, ‘no cookies or junk food,’ you’ll actually be thinking about cookies and junk food. Instead, say, ‘I will put healthy, clean food in my body to make me strong.’ Instead of saying, ‘I don’t have time to work out today because I’m a working mom,’ say ‘I can fit in squats when I brush my teeth and abs when I’m on the floor playing with my daughter.’
When we slip up, a knee jerk reaction is to come up with an excuse. Excuses can make us feel better temporarily; they can provide comfort when you’re beating yourself up; but this comfort is deceiving. It’s actually doing you a disservice. Use honesty and truth to motivate you, not make you feel bad. Use it to learn, grow, and yearn for more.
Be intentional and specific with your goals:
Don’t let your goals and desires float around in that wonderful brain of yours. Write them down; post them someone in your house; share them with others. By taking the ideas outside of your head and bringing them into the world through writing and sharing, your goals become real. They become visible. They become more tangible and thus more attainable.
It’s a good idea to occasionally reflect on your goals and remember why your ambitions and habits are important to you. Writing in a journal is a great way to keep track of your objectives, progress, and feelings along the way. While this might seem like an unnecessary, daunting task, I really stand behind the power of writing (shocking since I’m a writer, I know). But truly! When I started writing down how physically, emotionally, and mentally weak I felt after indulging in a cheeseburger, fries, and shake, the next time I wanted that, I reflected on those feelings. While it might seem like a fabulous (and tasty) idea in a ravenous moment of weakness, I can look back and realize that I do not want to feel that way again.
Please remember that deviating from your norm does not make you bad. It does not make you weak. It makes you human. How you deal with that deviation and your ability to quickly pick yourself back up is what counts. Show yourself some love, care, discipline, and reflection, and don’t wait until Monday. Get back on track the moment you realize you’re off.