MoHow Posted By Dr. MO Have you ever been doing great with a goal or habit change.. exercise, waking early, eating healthy ….when your progress was completely disrupted because of some major event in your life (death, marriage, illness, work, etc.)? It happens often… life happens!
Although we often give up our goals when something like this happens, a life event that disrupts your progress doesn’t have to stop your goal completely. You can overcome this obstacle, just like any other.
Things happen …the key question is “How do we deal with them?”. Do we get discouraged and quit, or do we find way around to keep going? The reality is the path to every goal will have obstacles. Here’s how to address them…
1. Anticipate. Think ahead. What obstacles do you see on the horizon? What obstacles have you run into in the past? What will change your routine? Weekends are a mini-obstacle that often seem to derail people trying to create a habit. But there are other changes in routines … holidays, summer, big events, changes at work, birthdays … these are often things you can anticipate and plan for. When you see something coming up on the horizon that might derail you, plan for it. Make it a part of your plan.
An example: You’ve been learning to eat better and know that a birthday party is coming up. Well, you anticipated, learned about the restaurant, researched the menu, and incorporated it into your plan. But on another occasion, you just anticipated the family event and allowed it to be one of your two cheat meals for the week. You have to be able to let up a little if you want to stick to it for the long term.
2. Find the path. When you see an obstacle, are you just going to give up? An obstacle is just something we have to get around, or over … it’s not a reason to quit. So instead of quitting, ask yourself: how do I get around this obstacle? There’s always a solution, if you’re creative enough.
Sometimes there isn’t just one path. And it can be hard to decide which solution to choose. But don’t fret: choose one path, and see if it works. If it doesn’t, try another. Life is an experiment.
3. Two steps forward, one step back. You will face some setbacks every now and then. That’s a part of achieving any goal worth achieving — if it’s too easy, it’s not a worthy goal.
Instead of seeing the setback as something discouraging, accept it as a part of the journey. “Two steps forward, one step back,” is what to say to yourself … and it’s a realization that even with setbacks, you’re still making forward progress over the long run.
For example, you’ve had some setbacks when it comes to your exercise habit. Perhaps you get sick after a few weeks of continuous exercise. But though illness has set you back a few times, you’ve now learned to see it as a welcome break, allowing your body to recover. Think of it as a time out … you’re allowed to rest when you’re sick, and when you get better, you’ll be recharged and ready to start again.
4. If you fall, get up, and learn from it. All of us have setbacks, from time to time. No one is successful all the time. But instead of letting setbacks stop us completely, you just need to get up and dust yourself off … and this part is important: learn from your experience. When you have a setback, ask yourself: why did I have it? What stopped me? What obstacles got in my way? And how can I get around them next time it happens (and yes, it will happen again). And plan for next time.
An example: When you were quitting smoking, you had several setbacks. But each time, you asked yourself “What did I do wrong?. What derailed me?”. And you then incorporated plans for addressing those obstacles into your plan. The common obstacles that led to a relapse in your smoking included stressful events, going out and drinking (and smoking) with friends, and stressful family events. Eventually, you succeeded … but you wouldn’t have done so if you just kept letting the same obstacles derail you.
5. Find new motivation. Sometimes a setback will leave us not only derailed, but demotivated. So the real problem is finding the motivation to start again. So, it helps to get back to the basics: what made you want to start in the first place? What was your reason for change? What motivated you? Thinking about that, and the benefits it will have in your life, and the way things will be once you’ve accomplished the goal, can help motivate you.
6. Go with the flow. Change is good. Change is a part of life. We might like our routines, but there will always be something that comes along to disrupt them. Accept that, embrace it, and learn to flow with it. If we become too rigid, we will break in the face of the pressures of life. However when we learn to deal well with changes that life throws at us, and still head towards our goal, we’ll be happier and we’ll get to where we want to be.
Be willing to be flexible. Changes comes at you … don’t despair, or get frustrated … take them and make dealing with them a part of your plan.
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