What to do when you backslide, get off track and lose momentum
Just this morning, I was in a conversation with a client (who is fresh off a mini-vacation), going over the importance of getting back on course after a brief setback. I was starting to explain the importance of a “rebound” and the benefits of understanding “course corrections”, the idea of getting back on track after a short period off course. In the middle of going over valid points and explaining valuable coaching tips, I realized something… they were a human being. Our discussion was fantastic, as we weaved between our faith and understanding that apart from God’s redemptive power, we’re an imperfect people, and how this is a good reminder when we don’t always make the decisions we think we should. In this moment of realization, I kept coming back to one word, that in my mind, best summarized the single component that we have the hardest time grasping when we set ambitious goals. “Grace”, the idea of extending ourselves a little understanding and reprieve of harsh judgment. This parallel between these two concepts really stuck with me after our discussion, so much so that I evaluated my own approach to my own goals and ambitions of improvement. The understanding of man’s imperfection, while still striving for a level as close to perfect as we can achieve, must be met with equal parts grace and compassion as its driven by tenacity and perseverance.
Grace and Grit
As previously mentioned, the ideas that share common themes of striving toward physical, mental and spiritual excellence. We understand the end goal to be one of great achievement and enormous improvement from our existing state, will undoubtedly be met with its fair share of obstacles, shortcomings and outright “failures”. It becomes our job and duty to realize it is in our nature to do just that, and in spite of this reality, pick back up with a deeper level of motivation and grit. However, at the same time, extend a level of grace and understanding for not YET being where we know we can and will be. From my belief of sanctification, the work of God manifest through us, we are growing in spiritual maturation, progressively becoming more Christ-like. The process is most certainly one of slow growth, as we cannot be perfect while simultaneously existing as an imperfect being. However, I believe this to be a work of the Lord, bringing me closer to this reality. This, in my opinion, is a great way to frame any endeavor of which we embark. In our journey of becoming our best self mentally, emotionally, relationally and spiritually, we can’t allow ourselves to feel entirely defeated the first time we don’t fulfill some external goal we’ve previously set. We have to realize this process to be just that, a process, and this temporary mishap or setback is only temporary, we are only human, but we will use it to propel us forward. Harmoniously holding fast to both grace and grit as we strive to push forward toward our intended destination.
Behavior vs. Outcome
With the proper lens of grace and grit, we can now look at the application of these concepts, and how they are most relevant in the idea of focusing mostly on behaviors rather that outcomes. This may get some disapproval, as everything has conditioned us to view wins and losses as the absolute indicator of effort and impact. I would absolutely agree that in many circumstances, a clear win and loss outcome are most definitely worth celebrating the victory as well as using tools to adjust and prevent future shortcomings. However, with something so significant and lasting (our life), we should have a different degree of observation and separate process of determining “wins” and “losses”. If we focus solely on the outcome and never the behaviors leading to said outcome, we are setting ourselves up for incredible disappointment (not to mention missing out on a considerable amount of “positives”). If you set a physical goal, ie weight loss, and after a few weeks of losing weight, notice the scale halt, or better yet, move the opposite direction, is this indicative of your overall effort and progress? Most likely not, as we are not dealing simply in absolutes of weight gain or loss, we are dealing with an incredibly complex body, with varying components, expecting one small outcome to sufficiently tell the whole story of our efforts and results. It's silly to think that we can sum up all of our tools, tactics and strategies into one menial metric. We must take into consideration, the positive adjustments to behavior, and the lasting effects of such adjustments rather than only observing the outcomes.
Learn from the greatest Teacher
Many will say, experience is life’s greatest teacher. The idea that we can learn the most from that in which we allow a lesson to be gained. I fully believe there is something to be learned from any situation, as long as we are aware of the lessons being presented. If we find ourselves on this “backslide” or “setback”, its very easy to find both frustration and discouragement, however, somewhere nearby is an opportunity to learn. This is easy to discuss, and difficult to apply, understanding this and knowing I myself have to constantly be reminded of this concept in my own life. Take for example, the conversation I shared with a client, the vacation presented a fair amount of obstacles relating to the plan we had previously outlined, and while some of these obstacles proved to be too great to overcome, there is still an opportunity to learn. Perhaps the most obvious lesson, is the one of grace, previously mentioned, but another area of which we can gain insight to prepare against future challenges, lies in the areas of struggle themselves. What are the things that proved to be the most significant, ultimately becoming the catalysts of regression? What areas are you most tempted and what presents the highest level of resistance? These are things we can now account for in future circumstances, and formulate a plan to better account for these potential hindrances.
Live Life and Relax!
Now that we’ve talked strategies and application, let’s settle on one of the most important aspects of this whole process, RELAX! There is a time and place for strict diligence and meticulous monitoring of your approach, but at the end of the day, if we cannot enjoy the process, what’s the point? We are human with a variety of complex emotions, abilities and struggles. I obviously am an advocate for self mastery on the journey to excellence for each and every person, with the belief that we were all created with this sewn into us, but I also believe there should be a level of enjoyment to meet these strict processes. We need to find a way to balance these views, moving ahead toward overall betterment, without losing sight of the joy that we’ve been granted in the process. So when you’re on vacation with your family, eat and be merry! When you’re kicked back by the pool, have a drink (age appropriate of course). Most of all, enjoy the journey, appreciate the season and cherish the moment