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Individual and Couples Counselling in Calgary

  • Writer's pictureRovena Magidin

Bouncing Back After Falling Off the Wagon

Rovena standing next to a sculpture by Rita Wildschut

It's been almost two months since my last post. I wanted to say I can't believe it, but I can. I believe it. I know exactly what happened - I went on vacation (it was marvellous), and I lost momentum. It used to be a practice to keep posting every week, a habit, a commitment. Then I gave myself a break, and never got back on track.

This is not an only area I lost momentum, for the last couple of weeks I haven't been exercising much, or at all - and that's after weeks and months of being very physically active, and loving it. Same thing - I got injured, lost momentum, lost motivation, and got stuck there. And it doesn't feel good.

Why is this that it's so easy to fall off the wagon? I always wondered it, especially when it's something that I enjoy and love?

So couple of things happened

- I did some research about why it happens and what to do about it - see below

- I'm following my own advice - I'm recommitting (and doing it publicly) - I'm back to posting(and you are reading it), and I'll do my yoga today - with JOY.

It's a common struggle that many(all???) of us face - falling off the wagon when it comes to maintaining good habits and finding it challenging to get back on track. Here are a few thoughts on why this happens:

1. Initial Motivation vs. Sustained Discipline: When we first start a new habit, our motivation is often at its peak. We're excited about the potential benefits and eager to make a change. However, as time goes on, that initial motivation tends to wane, and we rely more on discipline to keep the habit going. Discipline can be harder to maintain over the long term.

2. Life's Unpredictability: Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. From work deadlines to personal emergencies, various factors can disrupt our routines. When we fall off the wagon due to such disruptions, it can be challenging to regain our footing.

3. Loss of Habit Momentum: Habits thrive on consistency. When we skip a day or two, it's easy for the momentum we've built to dissipate. The longer we stay off the wagon, the harder it becomes to pick up where we left off.

4. Psychological Barriers: Sometimes, our own psychology can get in the way. We may beat ourselves up over a slip-up, feel guilty, or experience a sense of failure. These negative emotions can make it harder to return to the habit.

5. Comfort Zones: Falling off the wagon can sometimes lead us back to our comfort zones, where old, less healthy habits prevail. Comfort zones are enticing because they're familiar, even if they're not in our best interest.

6. Lack of Accountability: When we're working on a habit alone, it's easier to let it slide. Having an accountability partner or support system can make it more challenging to abandon a habit and easier to get back on track.

7. Perceived Difficulty: After a break, we may perceive restarting a habit as more difficult than it actually is. This perception can create a mental barrier that prevents us from taking that first step.

8. All-or-Nothing Thinking: Many people fall into the trap of thinking that if they can't do a habit perfectly, there's no point in doing it at all. This all-or-nothing mindset can discourage us from restarting a habit after a lapse.

Which one are you most "guilty" of? For me - definitely comfort zone and loss of momentum, and then - sense of failure, doom and gloom, negative thinking - thus no desire to continue :)

So, how can we make it easier to get back on the wagon?

  1. Start Small: Begin with a smaller, more manageable version of the habit. Once you've re-established consistency, you can gradually increase the intensity or duration.

  2. Forgive Yourself: Understand that everyone slips up from time to time. Instead of dwelling on past failures, focus on the present and future.

  3. Set Specific Goals: Define clear, measurable goals for your habit. Having specific objectives can reignite motivation and provide a sense of purpose.

  4. Find Accountability: Share your goals with a friend, family member, or a mentor who can help keep you on track.

  5. Build a Routine: Incorporate the habit into your daily routine to make it a natural part of your day.

  6. Visualize Success: Imagine the benefits and rewards of maintaining the habit consistently. Visualization can boost motivation.

  7. Stay Patient: Getting back on track may take time. Be patient with yourself and recognize that progress is a journey.

It's normal to face setbacks and fall off the wagon, but what matters most is your willingness to get back up and keep moving forward. Every step in the right direction brings you closer to your goals.

Researching this was FUN. It helped me write a blog post I was interested in and inspired about, and it helped me understand myself better. It also helped me see how normal and human it is :)

I'm BACK! I'm excited. I'll be sharing more in weeks to come.


PS. The picture is me next to a creation by an incredible artist from Brooks, Rita Wildschut. I loved visiting her studio and was tremendously inspired by her.


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