Simple Advice For Quitters: Start Again
Motivated wasn’t enough to describe how you felt come New Year’s Day. Ever watch the Oprah episode when Tom Cruise professed his love for Katie Holmes? That was you. That was me. We were jumping on the couch, making a fool of ourselves for the sake of our beloved new goals, mantras, vision boards and achievements-to-be.
We were going to sign up to run our first marathon, train to climb Mt. Whitney or better yet, Mt. Everest. We were going to hit the gym 2, no 3, no…5 days a week. Yeah, we were going to train 5 days a week at the gym and we were going to get shredded. We were going to apply ourselves toward improving our careers, perhaps ask for a raise, promotion or even seek to leverage our current experience for a position that offers more growth and better pay. We were going to truly cut out all dairy from our diet, that includes all the yogurt, cheese and ice cream we sneak in here and there. We were going to give up fast food, even on those days we are super slammed and in between driving to and from client meetings or away from home to attend conferences or sales meetings. We vowed to not be tempted by Micky D’s large diet Coke for only $1 and a cheeseburger for just $1 more.
Now it’s May, and maybe you find yourself still exercising, but not as much as you had envisioned. Or maybe you started hard core and then stopped cold turkey. Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle like me, where you exercise out doors with walks and periodically hit the gym. But, you are sort of, well, inconsistent.
Once upon a time, I was a personal trainer. So, I was quite disciplined with my personal fitness and diet because I had to be. It’s how I made my living, and I was always at the gym and around other fit people. But, I eventually went to college and then went on to more college and then even more. I ended up at a transitional stage in my life where I was finally done studying and wanting to devote 150 percent of my energy into my career. A ten-hour day at work, or more, doesn’t leave much room for an hour on the stair climber.
Life simply happens, and it happens to all of us. We all go through growing pains along with varying degrees and stages in life. Whether we have dealt with a marriage, a divorce, having kids, changing careers, moving or experiencing the “empty nest” syndrome, uncertainty can scramble up our lives and our routines.
Some of us need routines in order to complete the goals on our check lists. Routines are required for those of us who thirst for order, discipline and sanity. Without structure, individuals who function best within the confines of militant-like strictness and rules are at a total loss. Clutter, disorder, uncertainty, and lack of direction can be like a visit to hell. It can be pure chaos and a nightmare for some when uncertainty unravels our precise plans we had mapped out for ourselves.
And when thrown off our routines, we might end up taking a few steps backwards. We find ourselves shamefully in our car, waiting in a very long line at the nearest “In-N-Out Burger” drive through. Maybe we still stick with our diet, but our fitness and sleep routines have declined. We might find ourselves wading through upside-down plans and a now chaotic life, struggling to keep our heads above water. It is in these precise moments that we have to understand that although lack of direction might not be easy to stomach, it happens. Everything cannot always be planned, mapped out, charted and always fitting in perfectly with our timetable.
As much as we desperately want for life to follow our plans, there are some things that are just out of our control. And control is the operative word here. Not to make any excuses for you or me, but all of us fall back a few steps from time to time. Whatever the reason, maybe you are in a transition in life. If you review the last few months, see if you can track any significant changes in your life. Are there any curve balls that were thrown at you? If so, the most unproductive thing to do is to beat yourself up. Just because you’re not exactly where you hoped you would be, it doesn’t mean you can’t start again. Let your muscle memory take over. It might feel like you picked up where you left off, or that you did not regress as much as you thought.
If our routine is totally dismantled then we need to be flexible and adapt to our current circumstances and be willing to let go of control, to be OK with uncertainty. Professionally, we have to be willing to be a team player and to understand and accept that we’re not alone in our efforts. We have to be able to multi-task, deal with fast pace environments, expect the unexpected and acclimate ourselves to any changes that arise.
Life can be a piece of cake for some. Life can also be quite volatile for others. Or maybe, life can be as easy as you want it to be. The more you fight change, the more you suffer. Change is inevitable. Be willing to break your routine, break the mold, break out of the pack and be okay with being different.