Working out regularly takes commitment. Working out after having fallen out of the routine requires Herculean effort.
I recently had one month of absolute craziness in my schedule – I attended the annual convention of the National Speakers Association (and boy, those people can talk!), a personal development technology-free retreat with my teenage daughter, an intensive Mastermind retreat with my speaker sisters, and, of course, my scheduled keynote and training engagements. With all of that travel, road nosh, hotel bars, late nights and precious little movement beyond walking the terminals, I could feel my body getting squooshier by the second.
Once I finally settled back into my home routine, I was dreading the inevitable moment when I would return to my much-ignored fitness center. During the first few days back I made excuses – Jet lag! Schedule acclimation! Recovery time! – but then I knew that if I didn’t get back on the horse, or the elliptical in my case, I would run the risk of losing all of the momentum I had generated over the last several months (I had lost 25 pounds and built muscles where I didn’t even know I had ‘em.)
We all have initiatives that, for whatever reason, fall by the wayside. It could be a diet, an office reorganization, a time management system, a coaching program, a new product, or anything that we KNOW is important for us to do in order to be successful. However, when we practice mindfulness and become fully present in the experience, we can choose to start up again without a lot of fanfare, drama or excuses. Here’s what I discovered about the journey back:
Schedule a Date. When a big project needs to be tackled, it is critical that you put it in your calendar. Create an open window in your schedule (preferably in the morning when your energy is the highest), turn off ALL unnecessary technology, and nail your butt to the chair (or to the elliptical) to get started. Restarting is ALWAYS the hardest part; let your calendar help you toward taking that nasty, ugly first step.
Expect the Uglies. You shouldn’t expect your first foray back to be pretty, fun, or hugely productive. You may be overwhelmed with how much there is to do and what has been ignored. You may feel guilty about allowing it go on as long as you have without taking action. Let’s be honest. It will suck. But, we can recognize that sucking is a necessary phase toward awesomeness. Embrace the suckage; it will pass.
Call in Reinforcements. Don’t expect to be able to do it alone. Get the support you need to help push you through the initial ickiness. Can someone help you create files or talk through a strategy? Will one of your colleagues or friends act as a short-term accountability partner during the tenuous start-up time, just to keep you focused? Even something as simple as a powerful new playlist on your MP3 can be just the nudge you need to move you out of inertia. (I'm talkin' to you, Demi Lovato!)
Celebrate the Victory. When you’ve taken those first baby steps back, make sure you take some time to celebrate it! You have displayed enviable focus, clarity of purpose, and stick-to-it-iveness! Take a moment to breathe in this huge accomplishment before you go off and tackle yet another task.
Repeat as Quickly as Possible. Keep up the momentum by scheduling and executing several follow-on activities as soon as you can. Train your brain to expect that this is now a part of your life, at least until you have reached your desired destination. (If it is a health-related initiative, you are likely going to want to make it a permanent aspect of your life.) Nature abhors a vacuum, so if you don’t fill your calendar with tasks that support your goals, it will get filled with distraction-driven junk that will ultimately wreak havoc on your mind.
It's never ever EVER too late to start back up again. You are resilient. You are determined. You have the skills you need to accomplish all that you desire.
All you need to do is take that first wobbly, sweaty, scary step.
Theresa Rose is a business motivational speaker, award-winning author, and expert on mindfulness and resilience who works with organizations to create more innovative, adaptive cultures and happier, more productive workforces. Connect with Theresa at TheresaRose.com.