Backslide: “to go back to doing something bad when you have been doing something good.”
I hear this frequently from my clients:
“I’m really good for a while, then I stop and revert to my old ways. Why should I even bother trying again?”
I get it. It can be frustrating when that all the time, effort, and energy we’ve expended on creating new habits seem for naught because we aren’t as consistent as we’d like to be.
According to Jay Z “You learn more in failure than you ever do in success.”
Not that backsliding is “failure,” but the concept holds. When we do something correctly the first time, we don’t learn.
We don’t learn how to deal with adversity.
We don’t learn how to modify actions.
We don’t learn resilience.
So, what should we do when we’ve experienced backsliding?
- Analyze what was happening when you maintained the commitment to your actions. If you meant to exercise, what helped you remember to do that? Did you put your exercise clothes out the night before? If so, how do you remind yourself to do that more frequently?
- Analyze what was happening when you didn’t maintain the commitment to your actions. If you meant to be to work by 8:00 and slept through your alarm, what can you learn and do differently? Put the alarm further away from your bed? Go to be earlier the night before?
- Analyze if the commitment is still relevant. Maybe reading an hour a day was critical while you were in graduate school, but it’s not relevant anymore. Possibly the habit isn’t a habit you currently need or want.
- Analyze if the backsliding is situational. Yes, sometimes we don’t eat as well on vacation as we do at home. Is that backsliding, or is it a change in the situation? Only you can decide. If it’s situational, give yourself a break and re-engage with the habit when you return to normal patterns.
- Remind yourself of the big picture and reframe. Yes, you told yourself you were going to run EVERY DAY in preparation for the marathon. Missing one or two days doesn’t mean you’re not a runner, you still are. You are a runner that missed a couple of days, but the marathon is still ahead of you. Go for it!
My guess is that everyone you know has experienced some backsliding. I know I certainly have and am pretty sure I will experience backsliding in my future. The key is to analyze, reframe, and move forward.
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