How to bounce back after slipping up
I’m a huge fan of James Clear.
He’s an author focused on habits and decision making.
His ideas come from a wide range of disciplines, including biology, neuroscience, psychology, philosophy.
In other words, evidence.
At the core is a simple, but powerful question.
How can we live better?
Today I share some insights from James on how to bounce back after slipping up.
It’s fundamental in shaping our success of failure.
We've all been there…
You follow your diet religiously for a week and then binge.
You commit to working out more, hit the gym for two days, and then struggle to get off the couch.
You set a vision for your career, only to get dragged down in everyday responsibilities and not return to your dream until months later.
I've been there too, often letting my health, diet and family life suffer because I focussed too much on work.
But as time rolls on I'm beginning to realise something important.
These small hiccups don’t make you a failure, they make you human.
The most successful people in the world slip up on their habits too.
What separates them isn't their willpower or motivation.
It's their ability to get back on track quickly.
With that said, here are seven strategies that you can use to get back on track right now…
1. Schedule your habits into your life
Give your habits a specific space in your life. There are two main options for making this happen.
Firstly, put it on your calendar.
If you document it, chances are, you will do it.
Secondly, tie the habit to your current behaviour.
Use that behaviour to act as a reminder.
Same order, same way, every time.
Brush, then floss.
Same trigger, same sequence, every time.
Getting specific makes things real and gives you a reason and a reminder to get back on track whenever you slip up.
Soon is not a time and some is not a number.
2. Stick to your schedule, even in small ways
Do you ever miss your schedule and feel like you are completely thrown off track?
For that reason, it's critical to stick to your schedule, even if it's only in a very small way.
Don't have enough time to do a full workout? Just squat.
Don't have enough time to write an article? Write a paragraph.
Individually, these behaviours seem pretty insignificant.
But it's not the individual impact that makes a difference. It's the cumulative impact of always sticking to your schedule that will carry you to long–term success.
Find a way to stick to the schedule, no matter how small it is.
3. Have someone who expects something of you
I've been on many sporting teams and you know what happens when you have friends, teammates, and coaches expecting you to be at practice?
You show up.
The good news is that you don't have to be on a team to make this work.
Talk to strangers and make friends in the gym.
Simply knowing that a familiar face expects to see you can be enough to get you to show up.
4. Focus on what you can work with
We waste so much time focusing on what is withheld from us.
This is especially true after we slip up and get off track from our goals.
Anytime we don't do the things we want to do — start a business, eat healthy, go to the gym — we come up with excuses…
“I don't have enough money. I don't have enough time. I don't have the right contacts. I don't have enough experience. I need to learn more. I'm not sure what to do. I feel uncomfortable and stupid.”
Here's what I want you to think instead:
“I can work with this.”
The truth is that most of us start in the same place — no money, no resources, no contacts, no experience — but some people (the winners) choose to get started anyway.
Shift your focus from what is withheld from you to what is available to you.
5. Just because it's not optimal, doesn't mean it's not beneficial
I love the saying...
“done is better than perfect”.
It's so easy to get hung up on doing things the optimal way and end up preventing yourself from doing them at all.
Just because you can’t stick to the optimal schedule, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stick to it at all.
Start slow, live your life, and get better along the way.
Progress is a spectrum, not a specific place.
Furthermore, if you haven't mastered the basics, then why make things harder for yourself by fretting about the details?
6. Design your environment for success
If you think that you need more motivation or more willpower to stick to your goals, then I have good news.
Motivation is a fickle beast.
Some days you feel inspired.
Some days you don't.
If you want consistent change the last thing you want to rely on is something inconsistent.
Design your environment for success.
Most of us acknowledge that the people who surround us influence our behaviours, but the items that surround us have an impact as well.
The signs we see, the things that are on your desk at work, the pictures hanging on your wall at home … these are all pieces of our environment that can trigger us to take different actions.
Keep the floss next to your toothbrush.
The visual cue of seeing the floss every time you brush your teeth will be enough impact for you to do it.
Without any more motivation or willpower.
It sounds so simple, but make sure that the habits that you're trying to stick to are actually important to you.
It’s remarkable how much time people spend chasing things that they don’t really care about.
Then, when they don’t achieve them, they beat themselves up and feel like a failure.
You only have so much energy to put towards the next 24 hours.
Pick a habit that you care about (making sure your financial plan supports your overall life plan, perhaps).
If it really matters to you, then you’ll find a way to make it work.