Falling Off the Wagon

Sometimes, when we're engaged in a new undertaking, we try to build a habit by doing this new hobby or routine every day. And sometimes, we fall off the wagon, get distracted, or let it slip our minds. Sometimes, we know we should do this thing today, but we procrastinate or make excuses. This causes us to give up more easily.

This is what I'm doing here. A month and a day ago, I wrote about Thanksgiving here. I've also, during the rainy and cold evenings lately, missed three workout days in the last week. When you're on a routine, it's really tempting to try to scramble and catch up.

Here's what I do when I fall off the wagon. I'm no paragon of productivity or self-actualization, so this is just one guy talking.

  1. Don't try to "make up" missed days. Pick yourself up off the sidewalk, promise to do better, and don't kick your own ass too hard. Don't figure that you owe yourself to add another session to a later day ("I'll go twice on Saturday" or "I'll spend four hours writing on Sunday to make up for the three other hours I missed during the week").
  2. Don't apologize. It's your project. Get off the sidewalk and march on. Don't explain or make excuses or apologize or feel bad. Just promise yourself to try to stay on track in the future. We're human. Sometimes, we trip on the sidewalk.
  3. Don't think you've blown everything. I am a neurotic obsessive nutcase when it comes to my log books and my projects. Now, with these missed days (or this missed month, in the case of this blog), my record is no longer perfect. I can't brag that I've written a song every day or that I learned 50 new French words a week without fail. Oops.
  4. Don't sell off your own stock so frivolously. You'll have down days and up days. Try to trend upward and your stock is still worth buying. Start to trend downward and realize that it might be time to reorganize. Sometimes, we just don't feel like composing, learning, or working out today.
  5. Don't make it a big deal. Kicking your own ass about it or trying to make up the "absences" will make you dread resuming your project. Building a new habit is really hard. You might as well not make it any more difficult. Are you ahead of where you were a month ago? Good. No big deal. Now, let's go.

I'm trying to follow these guidelines myself. I'm really good at making big drama about nothing. Are you?

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