We’ve all been there — you start with grand plans and great intentions and then, somewhere along the way, you get a little lost. (*cough* New Year’s resolutions *cough*)
Here’s how to get back on track when life throws you a curveball… or you just plain lack motivation.
Illness, exhaustion, unexpected events, last minute changes of plan, bad weather, technical difficulties, general lack of motivation… There are many reasons we don’t always reach our goals. Even when we start full of optimism and energy, we often do so under the understanding that it will be plain sailing. But at the first sign of choppiness, we have a tendency to jump ship.
Eventually, the waters die down and we feel ready to be captains of our own destiny once again. But we’ve veered so far off course that we wonder if it’s even possible. We don’t know where to start, and we give serious consideration to just quitting completely and letting the tide take us where it will.
This is where I was recently, after sickness swept through the house and left us all run down, sleep-deprived, and struggling to catch up on all that had fallen by the wayside while we worked on rebuilding our immune systems.
So I wanted to share some thoughts on how to get back on track when, for whatever reason, you’ve been thrown off.
When people veer off course, they often try desperately to get back to where they were instead of stopping to evaluate whether the new route, or even a different one completely, would be better. In some instances, the direction you were going is still where you want to be but you just got a bit sidetracked. In other instances, the reason you didn’t stick with it is because it wasn’t the right path for you. Take some time out to re-evaluate if what you’re chasing is really what you want and if what you’ve been doing is the right way to get it.
This is also a good time to accept that diversions happen. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Sometimes you have to step off the path to get a better view of it. Many wonderful things can be found off the beaten track, even if it’s just the certainty that the road you were on originally is the right one for you.
Some of the best things in my life happened because I “failed” at something else I thought I wanted. For instance, if I’d gotten into my first-choice college course, I wouldn’t have had the incredible experiences I did, I wouldn’t have achieved half the things I’ve achieved, and I wouldn’t have met the wonderful people I did… including my husband!
Diversions can often be better than the decision you would otherwise have made. Have a little faith in the process… and in yourself.
2. Get inspired
Before you dive back in, get yourself in the zone. Read one of your favourite books, watch an uplifting movie, start a vision board, go for a run, meet up with a friend who radiates positivity and enthusiasm, listen to some upbeat music… Basically, set yourself up for success. Do something that will make you feel like you can achieve anything.
For me, it’s this motivational video:
This is the start of a new phase, so draw a line under everything that’s happened thus far and concentrate on where you’re heading from here on out. Get excited! You’re taking control, and things are about to change for you in a big way.
3. Clear your calendar
If you’ve been “off the radar”, so to speak, chances are you’ll have a lot of tasks that are backing up. If you’ve followed step 2, you should also be feeling pretty pumped up right about now. Ready for action. However, the tendency is to try go into overdrive to catch up on everything as quickly as possible, while also attempting to forge on with all your other plans. It’s a sure way to land yourself back at square one.
Instead, take a good long look at your plans for the upcoming week and clear as much space as you can. Keep the things that absolutely have to get done that week, and push everything else back. Now look at all the things that have been building up. Is there anything you could just let go of without causing bigger problems down the road? Maybe you normally change all the sheets and towels on a weekly basis, but you’ve run a few days over. Do they really need to be done immediately, or could you just wait until they’re due to be washed again?
Try strip your days back to be as basic as possible. You want to be as close as you can to a clean slate so that you’re easily able to slot things in. Now’s not the time for shoehorning.
Try to schedule each day in as similar a way as possible, so that you can settle back into a good routine. This will help you feel much calmer and in control, and provide a great framework to help you get back on track.
4. Start small
If you’ve been here for any length of time, you’ll know I’m a big proponent of baby steps. When you’ve been out of the loop and lacking motivation for a while, you need a series of quick wins under your belt to build back up your momentum and your confidence.
The place most people stall is picking what they should work on. They have a lot of things on their to-do list and they just don’t know where to start. They’re not sure which one is the priority, which one they should focus on, which is the most important, the most urgent, which will produce the best results… And on and on and on.
My advice? Pull one out of a hat. Seriously, just pick one at random. There is rarely a “right” place to start, so just pick anywhere at all and get cracking.
Remember that you don’t have to complete the entire thing, so don’t pass out when you see something like “re-decorate the entire house” next on your list. Find the smallest step you could possibly take to start turning that dream into a reality — maybe it’s picking up some colour cards from the DIY store, or some brochures, or starting a Pinterest board for inspiration, or researching some local contractors. Once you’ve done that, decide whether you want to continue on to the next tiny step on that project or whether you want to tackle something else.
While, in the long run, it’s important to make consistent progress towards a goal, for now, all these small wins can be a good boost to get you back on track and get your engines revving again.
And those are the 4 steps that will see you through the tough times. In truth, I’d recommend them to anyone, not just those who feel they’ve lost their way, because often we can plough blindly ahead with something, never stopping to consider whether ours is the best way forward. Personally, I do something very similar about twice a year to ensure I’m setting the right goals and that I’m still on track to hit my targets — they’re my New Year’s resolutions and my mid-year review.
So whether or not you feel the need to get back on track, we could all benefit from taking some time out to re-consider our path, our direction, and even our destination. You may find that you end up arriving at somewhere even better than you’d intended.
And hey, if this post inspired you, or you know someone who could do with a little help, why not share it?
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