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Mindset series: I fell off the wagon.. how do I restart?

If you are reading this post you probably have had this happen to you or are prolly going through this yourself now.

I've fallen off the wagon... a LOT. Example: Just this last year there was the time when I had an amazing workout routine (Orange theory on alternate days and yoga on the others) and was loving it. The the pandemic happened - and my resolve to work out by myself failed miserably. Similarly I was doing really good with intermittent fasting pre-pandemic (another one of my health goals) - 14-16 hour fast were the norm for me and then after a week long holiday to the Caribbean - it broke down and getting back on track wasn't easy.

Starting back up after stopping is never easy :( It's hard. What was super easy to do feels like an uphill battle . Your mind throws up a thousand excuses for why today is not the day to start this .. "from tomorrow" you tell yourself .... However, the niggling feeling never stops. It's like you were travelling 60 miles and hour and the car broke down. You've lost all the momentum.

Has this ever happened to you? Here's the playbook I've employed when this happens to me .

1) Realize that its OK to fall off the bandwagon.

It happens to everyone. The below three images are all of the same company Tesla at different time ranges. The 1st pic is the value last month - looks like it's trending downward, right? The next two are 1Y and 5Y snapshots -- looks better. It's the same thing with any goal we are trying to achieve. Bumps in the road are to be expected and everyone hits them. So don't beat yourself up about it!

2)Don't count on motivation - start small.

One of my favorite reads this last year has been The Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden . Highly recommend this book. Jeff makes a strong point that waiting around for the right mental state / motivation to action is the wrong thing to do. Action really breeds motivation. So this means all you need to do is to get started and small wins will motivate you to go bigger. Give yourself some time to go back to your previous state . Example: Whenever I go off track with my intermittent fasting - I give myself a week to get myself back on track AND I start small Example : Even if I was doing 20 hour fasts prior to this - I give myself a ramp up time. OK, can I do 10 hours ? Awesome . Next, How about 12 next day - Easy Peasy . Alright 14 ? Done and so on.

“You feel motivated because you took action. Motivation is a result, not a precondition. You don’t need motivation to break a sweat. Break a sweat and you’ll feel motivated.”
Jeff Haden, The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win

3) Make that thing your highlight on the day.

I've written before about highlights. This is from Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky's excellent book Make Time. Simply put, a highlight is the one thing you want to accomplish at all costs during your day. It takes precedence over other priorities and disruptions. When am trying to get back on the bandwagon - I find it easy if I pick that thing as my one highlight of the day. Example - let's say I want to get back to working out everyday - I tell myself that is my one highlight - something I will complete no matter what. The day is not done if that is not done. With this attitude you ensure you get that thing done ... and as we know from 2 - once you get it done for a period of time. , motivation to do bigger comes automatically.

Side note: I'm using this technique to blog everyday the month of February. It's early days yet :) but it has been working so far for me!

“something magic happens when you start the day with one high-priority goal.”
Jake Knapp, Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day

4) Apply Habit Loop principle for maximum success

How to make this one thing a habit, again?

In Atomic Habits , James Clear talks about the CUE>CRAVING>RESPONSE>REWARD cycle to setting a new habit .

(Note: repeating myself here.. but gamechanging book! If there is one book you want to put on your list folks - it's this one)

Cue: You want to make the cue to do the habit super easy . For intermittent fasting for example - I use this app called Zero - My Cue my last meal of the day . When my meal is done. I open the app and start the timer. for desired length.

Craving : You want to make the task attractive to do. TBH just making that one thing a daily highlight is enough of an incentive for me. However, the zero app makes it so fun - it shows you a great dashboard and as you get closer to meeting your goal - encourages you. Sometimes tracking something makes it attractive... you don't want to break the streak - this is the Seinfeld strategy :)

Response : Is about making the habit very easy to do. Start small and also use time of day for when you do it to your advantage. For example with IF - I find breakfast the easiest meal to skip - I have so many meetings in the early part of the day that I just eat my first meal at noon-ish

Reward: Find a suitable reward to reinforce the behavior. For IF - the Zero app is sufficient for me- it vibrates to let me know the timer is up - I stop it and man! that feels sooooooo good <3

FIN --

Alright, that about wraps up this post folks. Would love to know if falling off the wagon has happened to you and what you did to restart. Till next time ...

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