By Leo Babauta
In this webinar, we’ll examine the art of getting back on track (or staying on track) during the year. I also answered some awesome questions.
I’ve broken this webinar recording into two parts:
- Part I – My Talk: The Power of Re-Starting and Encouragement. (See notes)
- Part II – Questions & Answers: I answered questions on planing monthly and yearly goals, dealing with a retired social life, losing weight, training for a triathlon, and more!
Part I: Leo’s Talk (with notes)
Here are the notes from my talk (video is below the notes):
The Power of Re-Starting and Encouragement:
We’ll examine the art of getting back on track (or staying on track) during the year.
When weâ€™re trying to change our entire lives, one small step at a time, one small habit shift at a time, it can be easy to be invigorated in the short term â€” for a couple weeks, even a month.
The hard part comes in the long term â€” we will inevitably get sidetracked, inevitably get interrupted by sickness, family emergencies, travel, big work projects, and more. These are not in and of themselves a problem, but they very often lead to derailment, discouragement, even quitting.
This is a key juncture. Itâ€™s a point where we can either just start again, just continue with our positive changes â€¦ or we can let ourselves get discouraged and derailed. Actually thatâ€™s always the choice, but getting interrupted seems to be a danger zone where we are more likely to pick the second choice.
Why? Itâ€™s because of our inner coach. Imagine that you have a coach who is helping you to work out every day. When you first start, she is great at motivating you, getting you to make a plan, post it publicly, get excited about why youâ€™re doing this, and helping you take small steps to actually get started. As you take your first small step, your coach is encouraging, congratulating you on the small step, helping you to enjoy the process rather than expecting results right away.
Thatâ€™s the ideal coach. But then later, maybe you donâ€™t see much progress â€” what if the coach started saying, â€œI donâ€™t know if this is working. Youâ€™re not seeing results yet after 2 weeks, maybe you should just quit.â€ Wouldnâ€™t that be discouraging?
Or maybe the coach doesnâ€™t do that â€” but when you miss a few days because of visitors or travel, the coach says, â€œBoy, you really suck for missing those few days, you arenâ€™t any good at this, you should just give up.â€ The coach just drills into you, criticizing and discouraging. Horrible coach, right?
The truth is that most of us do this to ourselves. Weâ€™re (perhaps) good at the beginning part of motivating and encouraging, but then when things go slightly off expectations, we start discouraging ourselves. This isnâ€™t helpful.
Hereâ€™s what helps:
- Noticing when you went off course. This isnâ€™t a problem â€” tell yourself that your expectations are the problem, and that this kind of thing is normal. Change isnâ€™t linear, and it doesnâ€™t follow a plan exactly. Itâ€™s messy, just like the rest of life. Embrace this chaos, and learn to flow with it.
- Notice if you start to discourage yourself. This isnâ€™t a reason to get derailed, just something to notice. You feel some pain because you didnâ€™t meet your expectations. Notice this, witness it, then give yourself some compassion. Wish for yourself to be happy.
- Now start to be that ideal coach. Without judgment, notice that youâ€™re off track, and encourage yourself to just start again. Tell yourself itâ€™s OK, you got this. Tell yourself that you just need to take a small step, just start moving again, just start down the path again and all will be fine. This is but a tiny bump in the road.
- Encourage yourself to get help if needed â€” accountability, a workout partner, a support group, a friend to listen to you, a book or podcast that might give you inspiration.
- Cheer yourself on as you take the first step. Encourage yourself to love the process rather than be attached to the outcome. Focus on your intention rather than expectations. Be devoted to yourself and the good youâ€™re doing in the world, rather than what the actions lead to.
Become your own ideal coach. Write down mantras that youâ€™d want your coach to say to you, and repeat it whenever you need that encouragement.
Examples from my life recently:
Part II: Questions and Answers
Questions answered in this video:
- How do I best combine the approach you just described with monthly / quarterly / yearly planning of my habit goals? Do you recommend adding buffers for derailing or just embrace the “chaos”?
- In busyness of life, habits become “to do’s”, so although I do habits, sometimes lose the connection to the want/love/enjoy doing them, and they become a tick done thing – any thoughts?
- How to deal with retired social life of mostly invites to go out to eat with family/friends. outside of that, others busy with their life. Trying to lose weight so this becomes a conflict with that goal.
- I am training for a triathlon, got sick last, now Iâ€™m sick again which frustrates me and also I panic that I wonâ€™t be in shape enough to do the triathlon. Any encouragement for re-starting my training when Iâ€™m better?
- I’ve noticed that I often fail to create a supportive environment to “agree” with my inner coach long term. Do you have any helpful tips for outside resistance? (Schedule, other people,…)