How to Overcome Regression Toward Goals

Picture this: It’s been a months-long streak of hitting wellness goals. You go to sleep at a normal time and sleep well, embrace a healthy diet that a few years ago you would have scoffed at, and actually find yourself LOVING engaging in regular exercise. And then, boom—you go on vacation, your car gets totaled by a deer, stress builds. Routine goes out the window, and it feels like all of the progress that was made is quickly crawling away from the fires that have engulfed your once safe little nest. 

The thing about fires is that they go out eventually. The flames may burn us, but we can avoid the spiral of negativity and douse the fire with water and positivity until we are left to lick our wounds and move forward. Most of us know how difficult it can be to get back on track when life happens.

Here are 5 powerful strategies to moving forward after hardship attempts to derail progress.

  1. Identify the root of the backslide
  • Before we can find a way back, we need to identify what contributed to our slide in the first place. This can include increased stress from life changes, self-defeating mindsets and behaviors, illness or injury, challenging or more frequent life events, and/or challenges in time management. For example, my car recently got totaled. Working out daily was impossible when I needed to spend my free time looking at cars, talking to my insurance, taking my car to various inspection sites. Attending to my car had to become my priority, given that I commute to work by driving.

2. Try a different approach

  • Maybe while you were exploring the root of the backslide, you discovered some real barriers to working toward goals. Maybe you’ve been planning to exercise in the mornings, but can’t go to sleep early enough? Maybe you’re finding difficulty keeping up with a healthy diet due to limited variety of fresh foods at the grocery story you go to. Achieving goals may require some changes in approach, and that’s okay! Methods are going to look different for everyone. It’s all about finding what works best for you and using that to your advantage.

3. Create a schedule

  • I love schedules. I mean it— I LOVE them. Nothing makes me feel more organized than having a plan—even if it’s just loosely followed. My Sunday routine includes sitting down and planning the week—exercises I want to focus on, meals I want to eat, self care activities I want to do, and other tasks or errands that need to be completed. I create a schedule based on what my week looks like and then try my best to stick with it—but life happens, so I’m always gentle and understanding if my schedule changes in small various ways as the week goes on.

4. Find accountability

  • Studies show that the more people that know about your goal, the more likely you are to work toward it. Working toward holding yourself accountable is monumental in achieving goals, but better yet, finding other people who can hold you accountable creates a whole new layer of support in actually doing what you say you’re going to do.

5. Be gentle with yourself

  • Imagine me shouting the following from the tallest rooftop: Embracing positivity toward self and challenges can make or break the ability to overcome obstacles. Understand that backslides happen. Working toward a goal will not always be a forward motion—sometimes it feels like two steps forward, one step back. Negativity and frustration toward self or circumstances can cause one to shut down and can be a deterrent to finding motivation to work through failure. If needed, go back to the basics until you start to feel your groove again.

As Wellness Warriors, it’s important to put more emphasis on the sense of accomplishment we have when achieving a goal and decrease the focus we may put on barriers. We can choose to interpret hardships as an opportunity to utilize healthy coping skills and celebrate our strength, resiliency, and power. 

Happy Tuesday, Wellness Warriors! Here’s to hoping that the schedule I have outlined for myself allows me the ability to port more consistently now that my car fiasco is resolved!

Wins of the Week

I usually HATE Sundays. I typically spend the entire day running around, planning the week, and trying to cope with the brutal realization that the weekends go by far too quickly. This Sunday, though, I want to reflect on what a truly awesome week it was. Here are some of my wins of the week:

I got to caught up on *most* of my to-do list at work. Any mental health therapist will tell you that the to-do lists never end, but this week showed that they can get shorter!

Yesterday was my last day at my part time job! I’d been working both full time and part time doing outpatient therapy for two different agencies. After 8 months of working 65+ hours per week, I finally let the part time job go. To make the last day even better (or maybe worse?), I found the cutest coffee mug to use for the morning while therapy-ing the kids work with. While washing out the cup in the sink afterward, I had the shocking realization that I’d been flipping the bird to the kids all morning without realizing. I was mortified… and then hysterical, because it’s something that would just naturally happen to me.

I hit a personal record for a mile run in 10 minutes and 19 seconds. It doesn’t sound great, but it’s far from where I started (about 13+ minutes). Running has made me feel strong and confident. I’ve been starting to cross train more!

I went to a show with a friend and genuinely had a great weekend. I’ve been trying to get out more, because socialization makes such a huge difference with my mood. I spent a lot of time with friends this week. I put on a dress, put make up on (after watching an extensive YouTube tutorial, of course), got caught in a thunder and lightning storm. It’d been a long time since I’ve actually WANTED to be around people. This was a huge self care win.

I was successful in completing all of the workouts from my to-do list this week! To stay organized, I’ve just been writing down what I want to work on throughout the week and then completing whichever workout feels right for my body that day.

A few small steps for Kelly, a few giant leaps for her brain and body!!