How to get “back on track” with a goal when you’re backsliding.

One day. Two days. Three days. Four. Or more.


After a nearly unbroken streak of training at the gym every single day since January 1st, I found myself in the midst of a slump, skipping workouts and feeling totally unenthused.

Distracted. Lazy. Bored. Just not “into” it.

Netflix and local craft beer? Yes please.

It was fun, even restful, at first. But pretty soon I could feel my energy plummeting. A slow, sluggish feeling of inertia folding over me like a heavy winter blanket.

One night, I started crying for no particular reason. That was the final straw.

I knew my body was craving its usual rush of endorphins.

Time to get back into my routine.

Except… it’s hard to reboot after a lull, even a relatively short one.

Is there a way to make it “easy” to get back on track? I’m not sure about that. Breaking a pattern of inertia is rarely “easy.” But not everything in life is supposed to be “easy” and that’s what keeps things interesting.

Here are my personal guidelines for reviving a lost habit of any kind — good sleep, writing, fitness, anything that deeply matters to you:

1. Be firm and tough, but not cruel.

Telling yourself, “I am disgusting and lazy and awful. How could I allow this to happen?” is unproductive. That is, as my friend Susan would say, a form of verbal self-violence.

Instead, try saying, “I enjoyed my time off and now it’s time for a change. It starts today.”

2. Schedule it.

If it’s not on my calendar, it’s not going to happen.

Earlier today, I scheduled my workouts for the next three weeks by booking all of the classes in advance on my gym’s website.

Once something is scheduled, try to view it as a vital doctor’s appointment… or a meeting with your church pastor… or your best friend’s wedding… or a hot date with someone you’ve been lusting after FOREVER. Non-negotiable. Un-cancellable.

Extreme? Maybe. But if something truly matters to you, whether it’s working out or building your freelance clientele or making mixed-media paintings, then flaking out is deeply uncool. Your life is a hot date. Show up.

3. Dig deep.

Even after you coach yourself into positive thinking — and even after you schedule everything impeccably — there will still be moments where you are like, “Bah, meh, blah, whatever. It’s too hard to get activated. I’m over it. Doesn’t matter.”

Don’t listen to those voices. They are lying to you.

This DOES matter and this is your moment to dig deep, find the inner reserves and strength and grit you didn’t even know you had, peel yourself off the couch and DO IT.

Every time you have the opportunity to dig deep, and you DO it, your self-confidence and self-trust will grow.

When all else fails, remember:

Today is not over yet.

If your heart is beating… if your lungs are breathing… if you are still alive… even if it is 11:59pm at night and the entire day has been a cavalcade of disappointment thus far… it is STILL NOT TOO LATE to do something creative, generous, satisfying, and courageous. Today.

It is not too late to behave like the person you want to be — instead of continuing in a cycle of behavior that you will regret.

Everything changes now if you say so.

PS. If you are in an exceptionally foul mood, really struggling to shift out of a funk, go see Magic Mike XXL and everything will be better afterwards. I promise.