Getting Back on the Horse



It’s been two and a half weeks since my last article on the site. It has felt like much, much longer. For the previous four months it had been in my routine to write an article about every other day. I put it off one day and before I knew it, the days had added up to fifteen. I wondered to myself, “have I given up?” In other words, I completely fell off the horse and I was worried at some point that I might not be able to get back on it.

I’m not sure if it was the lack of article writing that contributed to a feeling of depression or if it was the feeling that led to the lack of writing. The important thing is, however, that I am currently putting words back on the page and it feels pretty darn good.

There are a countless amount of things that can cause you to fall out of a positive routine. Lots of people experience this with healthy eating plans. They spend months incorporating fruits, veggies, and other great choices into their meals. Then they go out to a restaurant three nights in a row or they take a vacation out of town and it leads them to crave richer food than they’d been allowing themselves to have. Without a quick burst of will power they can get off track without even being completely aware of what’s happening.

Here’s a list of things that I have at some time dropped from my life that required picking back up after becoming conscious of the problem: eating healthily, exercising regularly, flossing, doing the dishes, complimenting my loved ones, dribbling drills for soccer, keeping a to-do list, being prepared for the weather, doing my homework, picking up around the house, and writing articles for this website. This list isn’t extensive, but at one time or another I’m sure that all of us have let go of something at least parallel to one or more of these items.

While starting a plan in the first place is the hardest step, getting re-started has to be the second hardest. Whether or not it’s true, you may feel like the gains you had made with your positive plan have retreated significantly. It feels like you wasted all this time doing hard work and it isn’t worth it to get back up to the level you were at.

The logic there is kind of silly. Of course it’s worth getting those gains back. Who cares how much time it takes, obviously the strides you had made toward a better life were good enough to lament having lost them. If you can get back up to the level you were at, you may even be able to surpass them and become an even stronger person.

Let’s say you yourself have recently fallen off the horse of a good activity you accomplished on a pretty regular basis. There are effectively two directions you can go in. You can fix your feelings or you can fix the problem.


Fix Your Feelings

You can feel the emptiness of having lost this positive part of your life, whether it’s writing, eating well, exercising, or something different entirely. In addition, you feel guilty for letting yourself down. These negative emotions cause you to want to escape and feel happy. You begin reaching for things that make you feel better in the short-term instead of the long-term.

You play video games, or get some extra treats at the supermarket. You may watch a little more TV that week than usual or go out drinking a few times with friends. You figure this will take the bite off of those feelings of guilt and emptiness.

You feel even guiltier for having put off your positive tasks longer. You retreat to your newfound happy-bringers and unintentionally you work them into your routine. Before you know it, you have gone out with your friends four times that week and you’ve beaten Final Fantasy VII for the third time. Where did that month of your life go?


Fix the Problem

You can feel the emptiness of having lost this positive part of your life, whether it’s writing, eating well, exercising, or something different entirely. You look through your past and your routine, looking for the crack that the positive task may have slipped through. You take time to think about what changed and what modifications you would need to make to prevent this problem in the future.

You lose some time on your immediate tasks by improving your personal defenses, but you consider this a priority in your life. Once you have patched up the hole, you slowly but surely work the task back into your routine, possibly with a 30-day trial. It takes some time but you end up at the same level you used to be. This time, however, you feel stronger, knowing that this same problem will not stop you in the future. The possibility for rising higher is a good one.


Comparison

Ok, I know, the way I phrased it fixing the problem sounds a lot more productive. But if it is so much better, why do 95% of the people go for fixing their emotions? Obviously, most people don’t let it take over their whole lives, but even a successful businessperson can let his or her marriage downward spiral by thinking of the short term. A loving wife can let her financial life fall apart and still be a loving wife. You can still be a good person even if part of your life is having major troubles. If you fix the problem when you notice a positive aspect of your life falling away, however, you can be a good person and a person who is improving. Not a bad combo :).

I encourage you to take a look at your life. Are there any areas in which you used to be better? What kind of holes do you have in your routine that you would need to patch up to make this level possible again? Could you be a better lover, learner, family member, businessman, or devotee to a faith? Try to bolster yourself against the obstacles you have encountered in the past and then push forward.

Once you knock out all of the “I used to be” areas, you will have a whole new set of skills and fun that you can push toward. After that, there are only three steps to follow for the rest of your life. Rinse. Repeat. Improve :).

PS: It’s nice to be back. Thanks for stopping by.


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