You’re going along, making progress toward your goals, getting things done, enjoying life and then suddenly everything stops. Your momentum is gone, you’re cranky and tired and it seems like you’re back where you started.
Have you ever had this experience? I’m was the middle of it a few days ago.
First take a STEP BACK and assess. What have you accomplished? What have you learned? Is your goal still appropriate?
If you determine that you’re still aimed in the right direction but you’re not satisfied with your velocity try STEPPING UP. Assess what you’re doing and assess what you’re not doing and be honest with yourself. You might want to ask yourself the 7 hard questions I covered in another post (and will expand on in future).
But if things were going well before and now you’ve faltered I may have a very simple solution for you.
Look at what you were doing when things were going well.
Look at what you’re doing now.
I took a look and it was immediately clear that after I came back from vacation in August I stopped setting my priorities in the morning. After I got an ear infection a couple weeks ago I stopped writing my nightly gratitude list and poem and I stopped using my task tracking tool.
All these habits were young and hadn’t carved a groove in my brain yet so they were easily disrupted. (Let me be honest with myself and you: I stopped doing them. Nothing forced me.) None of these habits are essential to survival so when I stopped doing them the world kept on spinning.
But it started spinning more slowly and with less purpose. The gratitude list and poem were like an extra boost of fuel. The priority list and the task tracking (I’ve been using Omnifocus) keep the engine running smoothly. Dropping these habits slowed my momentum until I felt like I was not moving. I felt overwhelmed and wondered whether I was doing the right thing.
The interesting thing is that things that worked in the past will probably work now. Sometimes we stop doing good things for no good reason. Maybe our gym closes or we sprain our ankle so we stop exercising. Maybe our notebook gets filled up or we lose it so we stop journaling. Maybe our library card expires so we stop reading. Maybe we go to a wedding or a funeral and we start smoking or drinking or eating cake again. We intend to pick up this habit again or put that one down but we never get around to it.
Sometime we stop doing good things for reasons that seem good at the time. We stopped going bowling because it hurt our wrists. We stopped taking morning walks because our dog died. We stopped going to classes because we graduated.
The problem is that those habits may have been essential to our success in ways that we were not aware of.
Little habits can make a big difference. Meditating for 10-20 minutes a day several times a week can have a profound impact on you relationships and your mental health. Taking a walk at lunch time to that healthy salad place could add several years to your life and make you more effective at work. A regular bowling night with the guys or poker night with the girls or movie night with the family could provide a support system that is essential to your happiness and success.
The big secret of this post is that the little things matter. If you find yourself longing for the good old days, look at a time when things were working well for you and write down the things that YOU were doing on a regular basis. Don’t focus on the environment because all that is beyond your control. Look at your actions. If you stopped doing any of those things you should seriously consider starting up again. And don’t let a change in the environment stop you. If you gave up exercise because your tennis partner moved away or your knees are shot, start a new fitness habit. Maybe try swimming.
I’m starting those habits back up and I’ve started a new morning routine that I’ll tell you about in other post. It’s already made a huge difference.
Three Steps to