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What If You Fall Off Track?

Nobody is perfect. Although most of us have sincere intentions about wanting to maintain good habits and continue to get better, sometimes life conspires against us and throws us a curveball. It's important to remember that it takes longer to acquire a good habit than it does to lose one. Rare is the person who does not have at least an occasional lull in their habits, particularly in their exercise or dietary compliance. There can be that fire that needs to be extinguished at work, temporary financial difficulty, or a series of graduation parties when you are surrounded by culinary temptation. Even the best of us can fall off track once in a while. It's what you do to get back on track that makes the difference.

As many of you know, I have taken an interest in the ancient Greek and Roman Stoic philosophers over the past couple of years, and I have talked about them in previous articles. Part of my study entails receiving and reading daily emails from author Ryan Holiday ("The Obstacle is the Way") with insights on how the Stoic philosophy can be put into practice in daily living. A recent Daily Stoic email discussed how to break free from a slump and make progress. The suggestion was to, "Go return to something that has spoken to you in the past." This can apply to exercise, nutrition, education, or any other type of ongoing habit. Another quote that I found illuminating was, "Go back to the things that worked for you in the past and re-engage with them. Think of it as a switchback on the path to wisdom." If a routine or a habit has been successful in the past, it will work again in the future.

It all starts with your attitude; that is one of the few things in life that we have absolute control over. Another important factor is desire; how badly do you want to be successful? Are you willing to do what it takes to get there, or are you content to just be "good enough"? How important is this to you? It takes less time to reacquire a positive habit than it took to get there in the first place. You won't be starting from scratch, although it may initially feel that way, depending on how long you have been off track. While it's important to not beat yourself up too badly for missteps, you do want to have an accountability mindset. Objectively analyze how you got off track, and come up with a plan of action to avoid a repeat performance. Humans can rationalize almost anything if they try hard enough; we've all done this and it's not a good trap to fall into. Reassess your food choices and how you eat, and try to recognize triggers that can cause you to backslide. Prioritize tasks. Look at your schedule and see what needs to be adjusted so that you can more consistently make it to your workouts. In other words, go back to the things (and the mindset) that made you successful in the beginning. If it worked once, it will work again. You can do it, and Total Results can help.

I practice meditation and have done so regularly for over five years. Occasionally I will miss a session due to another commitment or event. I'm usually disappointed in myself when this happens because I see the value of regular meditation, but sometimes one has to be able to adjust to the circumstances of life. When this happens, I tell myself that this is a one-off occurrence, not the start of a streak. I find enough value in what I'm doing to refocus my efforts the next day. It's important to not beat yourself up over small missteps.

Many people confuse knowledge with wisdom. The difference between the two is that, "Knowledge, gained through the study of new information, consists of a rich storage of information. Wisdom, on the other hand, has more to do with insight, understanding and accepting the fundamental 'nature' of things in life." It's not what or how much you know, it's how well you understand it and can apply it to real-life situations. Life has a way of humbling us all. The best thing we can do is to keep learning and growing so that we don't repeat our mistakes. I think the Stoic philosophers would agree.

Posted July 21, 2022 by Matthew Romans