Is this a dreaded backslide?

Have you ever noticed how something small can suddenly become impossible to ignore? You know that teeny tiny bit of toothpaste on your sweater… it didn’t look that noticeable when you left the house but by the time you go to work it’s become a giant obtrusive spot. Suddenly “it” is yelling to be noticed.

The same can happen when we’ve worked hard to make a change or to grow in an area of our lives. When the realization that we’ve made a mistake hits, it can trigger deafening self-talk. We seem to waste no time beating ourselves up for being off track.

The other day a friend confessed that she felt like she was smack dab in the middle of a backslide. Her revelation came after she stepped on the scale the day after Thanksgiving. She’s worked hard this year to lose 20 pounds. Now suddenly she’s up 5 pounds and is feeling defeated.

It’s hard when we’ve worked for a change only to feel like it’s slipping through our fingers. I know because I’ve been there too. If I’m honest, I’m there now. But, I’m choosing to look at my challenges differently. I’ve found a freeing perspective that I hope encourages you the next time you feel like you’ve gone backwards, are backslidden, or feel like change isn’t possible.

1. Don’t throw in the towel.

When a fire is 30% contained, would you recommend the firefighters give up because it’s a “lost cause?” Or, when you have a flat tire, do you slash the other three because it’s hopeless? No, you don’t! So when you feel like you’ve been 30% successful, why would you ever entertain giving up? Remove it as an option. You deserve more than quitting. When you decide to continue, you’ve already taken the first vital step towards your goal.

 2. Recognize this time is different.

Too often we tell ourselves that we’ve been “here” before. But as I told my friend, this is actually a different place. It really is different this time. How do I know? I asked if before this time if she’d ever have admitted to someone that she was up 5 pounds right after Thanksgiving or if she’d have waited until January 1st to worry about it. And, I asked if in the past she’d have given herself a free pass for the entire holiday season. She admitted, she’d not have worried about it until January. I told her that makes it different. When you feel like you’ve taken a step back, recognize the subtle differences about this time. Doing so will help shift your choices to support your desired direction.

3. Revisit what matters.

My friend and I talked about what makes people take a free pass during the holidays when it comes to food chooses. She admitted that she treasures the family time baking cookies with her children but in the same breath said she feared she’d have no willpower to not eat far more than she should. I suggested making a gingerbread house together. There’s lots of “create” time and not really a finish product you’d want to eat. I also suggested making ½ batches, making and decorating cutout cookies that take more time to make, or baking cookies to give away. In the areas that we feel like we’ve gone backwards, identify what matters. Reframe your next step in a way that supports your goals but respects what matters.

4. Be your biggest cheerleader.

If a friend came to you fearing she was losing ground in an area she was previously making progress, what would you say to her? How would you encourage her to see her progress past her mistakes? Then ask yourself, is that how you’re talking to yourself? If not, it’s time for a change. Go back to the basics of what you need to be successful on your journey and repeat it. If it’s a skill such as music or writing, practice it. If it’s weight loss, get rid of unhealthy snacks and portions and drink enough water. Remind yourself what works for you and do it! Get back up on the horse and go. And, as you do, cheer yourself on daily. Don’t speak to yourself differently than you would to a good friend.

5. Identify and remove stumbling blocks.

When we’re struggling to be on track, it’s important to know our own weaknesses. Be brutally honest with yourself and take proactive steps to remove potential stumbling blocks. Take time to set yourself up for success by doing what you can to make your path easier. If you’re watching what you eat, don’t keep sweets around. If you’ve got a goal to read a book, plan time at the coffee shop. Whatever your goal is, do what you can to make it easier for you to be successful.

It’s your turn:

If you take two steps forward and one step back, you’re still ahead of where you started! Keep going. Don’t let setbacks, real or just perceived to hold you back. You’ve got this! It IS different this time.

Where are you today? Is there an area of your life that you’ve felt a bit off track lately? Maybe it’s time to give yourself a pep talk. Give yourself the encouragement you’d give a good friend. I’d love if you’d comment to join the conversation. What do you do to get on track? Did one of these ideas encourage you? As we look to the new year, what a better time for us to encourage each other and recommit to making progress on our journeys.

If this has encouraged you, please click to share on your favorite social media.

Until next time friends, be blessed!

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