We’ve all been there, having a great routine but slipping up and falling off track.
Possibly you’ve exercised three times last week, but haven’t even managed one session this week.
Or maybe you’ve built up a habit of waking up early, yet after one weekend of parties, you find yourself back in the habit of oversleeping.
Maybe you’ve built up a focus study habit, yet you’ve found yourself already checking memes after half an hour of studying.
Whatever it is, everyone slips up, and no one has the ability to always stay on track.
That’s why it is super important to focus on getting back on track when you realize you’ve slipped up, and not giving up a routine because of that.
That’s what this article is going to help you to do, in 7 simple steps.
Getting Back on Track
During the time I wrote this article I was still recovering from a heavy cold, which basically took me out for about 10 days.
During my sick time, I obviously became a lot more relaxed with my routines.
I didn’t wake up as early, I didn’t exercise at all, I allowed myself to indulge in ice cream and movies, and so on.
Of course, these are things that you somewhat “should” fall into when being sick, and I did definitely enjoy it, but after a while, I longed to come back to my regular habits and routines.
That’s why I wanted to research and learn how I could quickly get on track again once I became healthy.
And during this research, I found 7 valuable tips that will hopefully help you too, let’s get started.
1. Expect it to happen
One of the key things you need to do is to first realize that falling off track happens to everyone and is completely normal.
Even the most “successful” people fall off track, yet what separates them from the others is that they quickly shrug it off, and find a way to get back on track as fast as possible.
If you accept that falling off track will happen, you have to also forgive yourself and not beat yourself down when it does.
Why is this important you might ask? Well if you are somewhat like me, then you might also hold yourself to a high standard.
Holding yourself to a high standard is positive in regards to wanting yourself to develop, grow, and become better.
Yet it also comes with a price, and that price is that you can easily beat yourself up when you slip up and indulge in self-criticism.
That self-criticizing voice can often be a self-saboteur because that voice can easily tell you that you aren’t good enough to exercise regularly, eat healthily, or achieve your lofty career and life goals.
The key to minimizing this self-critical voice is to forgive yourself for making a mistake. This will minimize your self-criticism, and allow you to move on.
If you love yourself enough, then you will be able to forgive yourself, and easily help yourself to get back on track.
And when you do, it’s time to contact a friend.
2. Find an accountability partner
Having someone to hold yourself accountable to, can make a crazy difference in the amount of consistency you will hold.
For example, at one point in time, André and I had a 10 dollar penalty if one of us didn’t do our assigned task for Habithon.
This incentive made us very motivated to keep on going with the habit of pushing out content on a consistent basis.
When we didn’t have this incentive, my motivation to be consistent dipped which resulted in me not pushing out content as regularly as I would have wanted.
The power of having someone to hold yourself accountable is definitely understated.
We think that we can start a new habit ourselves and have infinite willpower and motivation.
Even if this is possible, we can more easily fail ourselves than we realize, and you will find it 10x easier for yourself if you have an accountability partner.
Having someone to hold yourself accountable to, and also having a monetary penalty for not following through, can be incredibly motivating to help get you going and be consistent with a habit.
Sometimes having something to lose is a greater motivation than having something to gain, so use that to your advantage to keep being consistent.
If you are looking to exercise again, find an exercise partner and have a penalty of 10 dollars for missing a workout.
If you want to study more or work more efficiently, find a study partner and do the same thing.
Whatever the habit or routine, find a partner to hold you accountable, and make sure there is something to lose.
Do this and you will give yourself the best possibilities to stay on track and succeed.
3. Focus on the start
Oftentimes, we plan to do it all at once, and yet we build up so much resistance towards actually starting in the first place.
We plan to go to the gym four days a week and work out for 1,5 hours each session.
Or maybe we plan to study for 7 hours a day 5 days a week.
This builds up a picture in our mind of how much time we’ll spend on doing our routine and how much energy that will require, which can lead to a lot of resistance towards wanting to start.
However, when building up a new habit, we need to focus not on actually performing the habit, but on starting it in the first place.
This tip is inspired by James Clear and his book Atomic Habits, and it basically boils down to the fact that we are much more likely to follow through on a new habit when we’ve made the first steps towards doing it.
All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision.
– James Clear
So for example, if you want to work out every morning, don’t focus on how working out will look like, focus instead on putting on your running shoes, and only focus on that.
This way once you have actually put on your running shoes, you will most likely not take them off again until you have performed the habit of exercising.
If you have slipped up on a habit, focus on just starting it again.
If you want to start exercising again, just focus on putting on your running shoes and getting outside the door.
Wanting to get back into the habit of studying? Just focus on picking up your books and putting your phone on silent mode.
If you want to start journaling again, just focus on picking up your journal and writing one sentence.
Focusing just on starting will help you to get back on track when you’ve slipped up.
4. Focus on doing less
When getting back on track, you need to set the bar low enough so that it is within reach.
Just like setting a new goal or starting a new habit, setting the bar too high can easily lead to failure as it will take a lot of willpower to follow through.
This is the same after slipping up. Depending on how long you haven’t done your routine, you need to lower your bar accordingly.
For example, if you haven’t exercised in two days, then you don’t necessarily need to lower the bar.
However, if you’ve missed exercising for a month or two, then set out to do less than you think you can handle.
Doing this will help you build a manageable habit and will increase the likelihood of you following through until it becomes automatic again.
It is worth mentioning that this step can be really hard as our egos think that we can manage a lot more and that we have the ability to initiate a superhuman routine instantly.
There have been many times where I talked myself into this type of thinking, for example trying a new exercise routine that was way above my level.
This eventually ended with me not being able to follow through and had to go back to the drawing board.
It is incredibly easy to overwork and to overestimate our ability, but don’t fall into the trap of setting the bar too high and instead focus on showing up.
Do this, and you will naturally be able to increase the intensity later on.
If you want to learn more about how to frame yourself for more consistency versus intensity, then check out our podcast episode on how to exercise smarter down below.
5. Set a schedule
Also, when coming back after slipping up, an easy way to remind oneself to initiate a habit again is to schedule it in your calendar.
If you set the habit or routine in your calendar, you will easily be reminded of coming back to it which will help you restart your routines.
Setting a schedule for your habit or routine will ensure that you don’t accidentally slip up again, so make it a priority to schedule whatever it is you want to do.
If you want to spend an hour exercising, studying, or working, then put it on your calendar or to-do list.
To make it easier to keep the schedule, use something like a Pomodoro timer to time your sessions.
6. Set the environment
Our environment has a big impact on how we perform.
If we spend time with lazy friends, we will become lazy. Having snacks at home will eventually lead us to eat them. If we have a TV in the bedroom, we are more likely to turn it on and binge watch Netflix.
Knowing that our environment has a big impact on our willpower, motivation, and performance, can help us in our pursuit of coming back on track.
If we set up our environment so that it is easy to come back to our routines or habits, we help ourselves to quickly get back on track.
An example of this is putting out your running clothes so that that is the first thing you see in the morning and thereby easily reminding yourself to go out and exercise.
Or if you want to eat healthily, then just completely rinse out your cupboard of shitty food.
If you want to study, make sure your study books are ready on the desk for you and that your phone is outside when you sit down.
Enhancing your environment will help you to keep the habit going independently of your motivation or willpower, which is exactly what we want.
7. Create a GBOT (Get Back On Track) Ritual
Isn’t it fun having acronyms for different stuff?
On a serious note though, since you can expect that you will fall off track in the future, then the best thing to do is to prepare for it so you can conquer it easily next time.
Besides the steps outlined above, you should have a simple ritual that will allow you to get back on track and in a good mental state again as if you didn’t slip up at all.
This simple act can be called a GBOT Ritual, or a Get Back On Track Ritual, and it is basically something you do to get back into a state of acceptance, forgiveness, focus, and discipline.
These activities can range from meditation to doing a few sprints. Here is a list of activities I recommend to change your mental state and get back on track:
- Do 20 pushups
- Try 5 minutes of meditation
- Do a breathing exercise
- Take a cold shower
- Do a “Start Again” meditation (tip borrowed from Tim Ferris)
- Pray for courage, guidance, and humility (tip from The Artist’s Way)
- Cite an affirmation like: I am strong, I am powerful, I am consistent
- Take a walk and call a friend
- Take a power nap
When you’ve realized you have slipped up, do your GBOT Ritual, and get back on track with your routines and habits using the steps above.
To recap the steps, here they are:
Expect it to happen
Find an accountability partner
Focus on the start
Focus on doing less
Set a schedule
Set the environment
Create a GBOT Ritual
So there we go, hopefully, these tips will help you to get back on track with your routines and habits quickly.
If you would like to know the best habits, routines, tips, and tools to get to peak physical, mental and spiritual fitness, then I encourage you to get our Free Mastery Toolbox.
In this toolbox, you will get the best tips and tactics we’ve learned and gathered so far in our quest for physical, mental and spiritual mastery.
Check out our best resource yet, which is also completely free, here.
Until next time, I wish you all the best and see you next time!
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