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Backsliding And What To Do About It…

May 24, 2010

Backsliding is frustrating, but it’s something we all fall prey to. When changing behavior patterns, in my case building willpower, a little backsliding is expected. Almost inevitable. Usually, for me, it means I’ve taken on too much too fast.

Two weeks ago, just about everything I’d been making progress on stopped.

  • I was posting on this blog 3x / week. I stopped.
  • I was going to bed at 11 pm and getting up at 7 am. That stopped. (The earliest I got to bed was midnight, and the earliest I got up was 8:30 am.)
  • I was working diligently toward the creation of a new website. That stopped, too.

The only personal thing that I kept doing was working out every morning. I did not, however, keep walking in the afternoons. I wanted to. I just didn’t.

Fortunately, when it came to my clients and other people for whom I was working, my willpower hardly flagged. But my workload almost doubled last week, which was the cause of the backsliding on the personal side. It’s all about balance, and as a new business person finding balance is the hardest part. Something had to give, and I wasn’t about to let it be the work I was doing for my clients, so something else had to.

So, once we’ve backslid, what happens next? What can we do? Well, the way I see it, there are two choices:

  1. We can give up and stop trying. Accept that we won’t be able to accomplish the thing that we want to accomplish, and doing something less challenging.
  2. We can get back on the proverbial horse.

The first choice usually isn’t made consciously, it often happens slowly, and is distressingly easy to fall prey to. As we all learned from Newton, “An object in motion stays in motion unless acted on by an outside force.” Friction is the most common “outside force” for physical objects in the world, but for personal challenges — like building willpower, or exercising, or losing weight — the Resistance (a concept I found in Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art) is the primary “outside force” that steals our momentum. Except that it’s actually internal, but that’s neither here nor there.

The first choice of the two above is the easiest choice, but it’s rarely the right choice. Since it’s rarely a conscious choice, we need to actively guard against it. (Like getting on a scale once a week to make sure that, even if you’re not making noticeable progress toward your goal weight, you’re at least not sliding backward.) Getting back on that proverbial horse is much harder, but is the more rewarding choice in the long run. Even if it’s been two days, or a week, or a month, or even a year since you last did the thing you wanted to do, get up, get “back on that horse,” and get your momentum back.

That’s what I did. I was in bed by 11 pm last night. I didn’t fall asleep until midnight, because I’d gotten back into the habit of being awake later, but I didn’t read, and I had the light off. I woke up at 7 am this morning, despite my body’s protests. I didn’t get up until 7:30, but small steps forward still count. Obviously, since you’re reading this, I posted on my blog.

The other thing that slipped that I will need to get back to is working toward that new website I mentioned. Here is where I’m going to encounter the most Resistance, because it’s something exciting and scary that I really want to do. Wish me luck, and I wish you the best of luck in continuing to do the things you want to do, even if they’re hard, or scary, or you feel the Resistance trying to slow you down.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Regine permalink
    May 24, 2010 6:21 pm

    Hi Megan,
    I read your blog about backsliding. Mmhh sounds very familiar and I have been there as well. Just wanted to send you some encouraging thoughts. Keep on getting back on that horse. As your rightly said, it will pay off, it just takes time to fully do so. Good luck! I look forward to your next post with more good news,
    Regine

    • May 24, 2010 6:35 pm

      Thanks for your kind words. I’ve actually done really well today with “getting back on the horse” but it’s all about keeping that momentum going, so we’ll see what tomorrow holds.

      Glad you stopped by.

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