Are you looking back and asking what happened to all the good intentions you had for this year? You were committed to doing something different and had what you thought was a bullet-proof plan. Before you even know what happened, you find yourself backsliding to your old habits. Stop beating yourself up about it and follow these three steps instead. You’ll be back on track in no time.
What You’ll Discover in this Episode:
- How to clear up why the backslide happened.
- The simple step you can take to get back on track.
- How to safeguard yourself against future relapse.
What most people don’t realize is that there is a level of clarity and conviction that comes from understanding the backslide. It is time to stop shaming yourself, and start learning from it. The truth is, we all waver when working towards what we want. It’s the most successful people who learn from it and bounce back – stronger than ever.
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Author of Atomic Habits James Clear.
- Cycle of change from Prochaska & De Clemente.
- For free support in your change journey join my Facebook group Expats on Purpose.
Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour, this is Sundae Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-oriented coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations and I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
The word backslide means to return to old habits and most often means to return to bad habits, and it’s called the backslide for a reason. You know slide is to move easily, you’re not interrupted, it’s all of a sudden. Backslides are slippery and as we sit here weeks after New Year’s we look back and say “hey what happened to all my good intentions?” Maybe you’re one of those people who said this year “I’m going to do something different” and even made a plan to do it. You started let’s say jogging etc. you start seeing progress and all of a sudden you get to the end of the month and you’re like “Well what happened? I’m back to where I started.” Maybe for you it’s too much wine during Netflix sessions or maybe it’s not getting up in the morning and going for a run or maybe you’re the one who’s just a little bit more impatient with your kids than you’d like to be.
This could be you, if you are the one who’s backsliding you feel like you’re on that little baby slide in the playground where you start at the top and ‘whoop’ you’re already at the bottom and you look back and you’re like “That was fast.” Or maybe your experience of sliding back to old habits is more like a water park where you go down the steepest slide in the park and your swimsuit gets stuck in spaces you just don’t want to be dealing with in public.
No matter what kind of backslide you’re dealing with right now I have a hunch that you might be thinking one of these things; “Who am I kidding anyway, I’m not a fit person”, or you may be saying “I mean I’m not really cut out to be an entrepreneur actually”, or “you know what, it’s okay if I don’t you know go on date with my partner, we see each other sometimes after work” or maybe you’re the one who says “you know what I can’t do this, anyway it’s just too hard and that’s because it’s so hard it’s clearly impossible for me to do.” That self-doubt creeps up, and whatever flavour of the day and it leaves you feeling completely demotivated to start back after the slide.
I mean let’s be honest you’ve got demands on your time, demands from others, you’ve limited energy and focus and who knows how much support you have around you.
I get it.
The question is how can we bounce back after a backslide? Maybe for you it’s your health. A lot of people set goals at the end of the year to say “You know what, next year I am going to exercise more, or meditate, or drink less, or eat better food.”
Is that you?
Are you the one who’s not stepping up the way you wanted to on your health, or maybe it’s your family, maybe it’s how you touch your kids or the way you talk to your partner, it could be your job. You say you know you’re going to do the tough stuff first so that you can be a really strong leader, or maybe you want to apply for that job that wouldn’t be soul sucking, or you want to reach out to clients because you know it’ll impact your business.
Essentially when we backslide we get caught in patterns of not making time for what we really wanted. Putting others needs first over our own, and if I’m really honest staying in your comfort zone. Is it really worth it, because when we do that we end up completely losing our motivation to change and at worse we stop believing in ourselves?
I do see this when I start working with clients, the backslide comes, depending on the person, at some point when we work together, and they come to the call in shock like “I don’t know what happened, we had such a great plan and then you know what, I didn’t do it. I didn’t pack my yoga pants to go to work or I didn’t take that walk after my lunch break” or whatever it was that they said they were going to do.
And here’s what happened, I see this all the time, people confuse knowing for doing. They think just because they know what to do. We all know drink water, exercise more, eat healthier foods leafy greens etc. etc. but do we do it? I think what’s important for you to know, is, what does change really look like?
There is a cycle I love to share with my clients from Prochasca & De Clemente, it’s a cycle of change and I’ve mentioned it before.
I want you to imagine an upward spiral. This upward spiral begins with maybe how you were in November last year, it’s precontemplation, you have no intention of changing your behavior, you’re going through life like a bull in a china shop, just not working towards things that are important to you, but not really noticing that change of behavior is necessary. And then one day, ‘wham’, you’re in contemplation phase, you are aware that there is a problem and you haven’t really made any commitment to take action.
So maybe when you’re in contemplation its like “I really should not open this bottle of wine, it’s a Tuesday, why am I doing this again?” But you really don’t have any intention of changing. That is a precontemplation, where you’re aware there’s a problem, but you’re not committed to taking action.
The next step is, actually you’re going to take action, you do intend to make that happen because you want to address the problem and that is preparation. You’re getting ready to make changes in your life. All of that is part of the process, and then action is where you’re going to change your behavior. So most people are already having trouble here, at contemplation where they’re aware of the problem. They shame themselves for already changing the problem, but what they haven’t done is they haven’t prepared to do things differently. So that’s one of the mistakes already.
The second mistake I see people making, is that when they are intent on taking action, have they prepared, do they know exactly what the steps are, this is why we work on that in coaching, to make sure you know exactly what your next steps are. You feel confident that it’s doable and then you need to go do it, that’s obvious, and once you start doing it you have to maintain, that means don’t just go to the gym once, it means go every single Tuesday until your new behaviors are replacing the old ones. And then this is what surprises people, all of a sudden they don’t go. A week goes by, “I haven’t gone to the gym all week, what happened?” That is the relapse, the relapse is where we are working on replacing a behavior and then something changes. Maybe you were too tired, maybe there was high pressure at work, maybe something in your environment shifted and all of a sudden you fell back to your old patterns.
No problem you guys, you just go back to contemplation, “Okay I’m aware this is a problem.” Slide in the preparation, “Okay I am going to make a change, let me address this, what do I do next?” and then you take action.
So if you’re listening to this and you know what you want to do and you’re shaming yourself for not doing it, or you’re shaming yourself because you have backslides. I want you to know this is normal, this is not because you screwed up. We backslide because we’re human, we backslide because our synapses have been firing for maybe even decades on an old pattern and it takes a while to loosen up the synapsis so they fire in a different direction. You are changing patterns you’ve practiced for years and maybe you’re out of your context, maybe something threw you off. Shame is not going to help you change your life.
So I want you to follow these steps that I have instead, so stop beating yourself up. Remember a few episodes back you said you were no longer available for let’s say arguments with your partner, no longer available for picking up your kids clothes, whatever it was you said you were no longer available for and you’re catching yourself doing it again, there are three things you can do to get back on track.
Nr. 1 CLEAR. Clear is clear it up, it’s also clear out this shame, but how do you clear it up? All you’ve got to do is look at it. “What was working before the backslide, what was I doing that was successful, where did I start the slide?”
Thinking of the terms of James Clear from Atomic Habits, when did you skip it twice? Whatever the thing that you wanted to do, whether it was getting up early, or having that alone time with your daughter. When did you skip it twice? And what were the triggers that happened? Was it certain friends? The time the day? Was it where you went? etc. So what was working? Where did you start the slide? A good indicator is when did you skip it twice, and then go deeper.
And then the third part, to clear, is really important. What do I want to do instead next time? So one of my clients is working on speaking to her children differently when she’s frustrated and her intentions are really solid, her routines are really solid but when she gets in the moment, she’s like, “I don’t know what to say instead”. So we’ll brainstorm on things so that she’s ready for the situation and that’s exactly like you if you want to behave differently next time. You’ve got to have things in your back pocket to pull out and use, but if you haven’t thought about that in advance, it’s not going to magically appear, right?
So clear has three parts; what was working? Where did I start to slide? And what I want to do instead next time? That’s how you clear it up and clear out the shame.
Nr. 2 RETURN. The first part is clear, the second one is return and it means return to what you’re becoming. Remember in episode 104. We talked about two key questions and one of them is what am I becoming? So, “I am becoming the person who has excellent ways to respond to my children when they’re demanding, I am becoming the person who takes first class care of herself, I am the person who does the hard things first in her business so that it will grow in the way I intend.” What is it? What are you becoming?
So then you can ask yourself; “What would the person who is becoming that do next?” And that will help you focus on what you’re creating. So if you are a person who is becoming a patient mother who has a backslide, what would she do next? Do that!
Step one is clear, step two is return, return to who you are becoming.
Nr. 3 SAFEGUARD. The best thing you can do is safeguard for a relapse, just like they recommend with relapses in addiction, you can use the same strategy for relapsing with the other bad habits we are addicted to. So safeguarding for a relapse means “What has to happen for me to be successful this week?” Do you need to have an accountability partner? Do you need to set a reminder on your phone? Do you need to ask your partner to join you when you do it? Do you need to write it down? Do you need to put post it notes on your window?
I don’t care!
Safeguard for a relapse, and what I recommend is focus on an immediate goal not for the rest of your life, feels super overwhelming. People will say “I want to meditate”, I’m like “Really? You’re going to just meditate from now until you’re 98?” Let’s hone it down, let’s just meditate today and then we’re going to meditate tomorrow. If you’re becoming the person who meditates, let’s have smaller wins. “So what has to happen for me to be successful this week?”
Then maybe you have two jars, with one has seven colored marbles in it, and the other one is empty and you just transfer one marble to the other side every time you meditate, or every time you go for a run, or every time you speak to your child patiently, whatever it is what has to happen for me to be successful this week, and this is really important because maybe you’re having a terrible week and that means you might have to do things differently.
Another thing I see happen a lot is people pick a strategy of what they’re trying to accomplish and one of my clients I just thought of. Wow! This is such an amazing woman, she was working on a strategy to really take care of herself, and then she had probably the most profoundly challenging week at work she’s had her entire career. So whatever strategies that you have for a regular week probably need to be adapted for that kind of week. So what has to happen for me to be successful this week also helps you realize that things might be different than they were the last time. So it also gives you that sense of shame free, focused, loving way to look at how you’re going to take the right next step, so that you can get out of relapse and back to action.
So for those of you who are sitting there at the end of January and you feel like you’ve taken a backslide and you’re asking yourself. “Hey, how do I balance back from this?”
All you’ve got to do is follow the 3 steps;
Step One – Clear; Get clear on what has to happen for you to make it work again, clear it up, clear up what didn’t work, what did work, clear out.
Step Two – Return; Return to who you are becoming and just ask “what would that person do next?”
Step Three – Safeguard; Safeguard your intentions your behaviors or routines for this week so you can be successful.
How do you bounce back from a backslide? That’s how; clear, return and safeguard.
You’ve been listening to Expat Happy Hour with Sundae Schneider-Bean, thank you for listening. I want you to know if you are looking for people to stand by your side as you return within avengeance when you bounce back in amazing ways. Check out the Facebook group Expats on Purpose. This is your purpose squad who will help you stay accountable as you take you steps in your own life.
I’ll leave you with the words of John C Maxwell, New York Times bestselling author.
“Dreams don’t work unless you do!”