How to Get Back on the Horse
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Hello and welcome to Career Tips! Following on from last month’s article on goal-setting, I thought I would put forward an offering about goal achievement. We all know it: life is messy. In fact, life gets in the way. This article discusses how to manage the setbacks and slippages which are likely to happen as you progress towards achieving your objectives.
When I chat to people about their goals and ask them why they didn’t succeed, I hear again and again: “Things got in the way” or some variation on that theme.
In my experience, these things that get in the way are of two kinds.
Firstly, external: I call those “setbacks“. Let me give you an example. You’ve decided to get fitter and you’re running every morning. Lo and behold, it’s been snowing and the sidewalk hasn’t been cleared because it’s London and the authorities can’t handle snow…! So you fall and you break your leg. You have experienced a “setback”: something outside your control got in the way and, clearly, you will need to adjust the time frame of your fitness programme to take account of your recovery period. Setbacks happen because, simply, life is not smooth.
A “slippage“, in contrast to a “setback”, is when YOU get in your own way – it’s internal. Think of the smoker who has quit, he’s been “clean” for 3 months but he goes to a party and gets offered a cigarette: for a moment, his will falters… That’s a “slippage”. Slippages happen because we’re all fallible human beings, because even the more strong-willed among us sometimes waver, because achieving goals is simply not easy… So setbacks and slippages will happen: don’t think otherwise because hoping for a smooth ride without any unforeseen challenge will leave you unprepared when a setback occurs or you slip up. So be alert and be realistic!
What to do in case of a setback or slippage? My own recipe: have a vent but keep your cool. Here is what I mean: it’s OK to have a moment of great irritation that the incompetence of the London authorities caused you to fall on a snowy sidewalk and break your leg. Similarly, as one who slipped up by smoking a cigarette when he meant not to, it’s all right to berate yourself for a short while. Let the emotion out, have a grumble at the unfairness of life, call yourself an idiot – for a few minutes. And then stop.
Yes, stop because you have something better to do than keep on grumbling or calling yourself names. You need to get back on the horse. You need to think about that fitness plan of yours and adjust it to your new circumstances. You need to think of how else to exercise if you can’t run as planned. It’s not because you broke your leg, unfortunate though that was, that you should now give up, become a couch potato and put on 10 pounds, right?
Similarly, despite your slippage, you need to continue quitting smoking. You need to get your will back up. It’s not because you smoked one cigarette that you are smoker again so don’t despair and don’t use your slippage as an excuse to resume your habit of smoking 2 packs a day.
It’s up to you: a setback or a slippage can make you trip. Or not: you decide. But let me suggest to you that if, when a setback or slippage occurs, it finds you connected to your goal, confident and in control, it will be much easier for you to get back on your horse and resume working on your goal in the appropriate way.
Should a setback or a slippage find you outside your comfort zone, you will be more vulnerable to losing sight of your goal or to questioning your ability to achieve it and to letting control slip away. And you could then become one of the people who will have let “things get in the way”…
If this article resonated with you, don’t hesitate to contact me for a chat where we would explore what is going on for you and what you would like to have happen. To contact me, click here.
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