What to do ? Here are some useful points to consider :
1 . DON ' T BEAT YOURSELF UP .
Although some people assume that strong feelings of guilt or shame act as safeguards to help people stick to good habits , the opposite is true . People who feel less guilt and who show compassion toward themselves in the face of failure are better able to regain self-control , while people who feel deeply guilty and full of self-blame struggle more .
Often , when we feel bad about breaking a good habit , we try to make ourselves feel better by ... indulging in the bad habit ! A woman told me , " I felt so bad about breaking my diet that I ate three orders of french fries ." This is the cruel poetic justice of bad habits .
2 . REMEMBER THAT WHAT YOU DO MOST DAYS MATTERS MORE THAN WHAT YOU ONCE IN A WHILE .
If you ' re pretty good most days , don ' t get too upset if you don ' t have a perfect record . Don ' t let yourself start to think , " Gosh , I haven ' t exercised in 10 days , what ' s the point of starting now ?" Sure , you wish you ' d exercised those 10 days , but if you get back in the habit , those lost days aren ' t a very big deal .
And fail small , not big . Once a good behavior is broken , we sometimes act as though it doesn ’ t matter whether it ’ s broken by a little or a lot . “ I didn ’ t do any work this morning , so what the heck , I ’ ll take the rest of the week off and start on Monday .” “ I missed my yoga class over spring break , so what the heck , I ’ ll start again in the fall .” Pick yourself back up right away !
3 . A STUMBLE MAY PREVENT A FALL .
If you ' ve fallen behind or fallen off the wagon , remind yourself of the valuable proverb : " A stumble may prevent a fall ." Sure , you ' ve gone through a rough patch , but you can use this experience to learn more about yourself and your challenges . Maybe you fell behind while traveling , or when you had family visiting , or when you were in a tough stretch at work . How can you use this experience to set yourself up for more success in the future ?
Let ' s say you were eating very healthfully , then you spent a weekend in a hotel where you ate too much of the wrong food at the all-you-can-eat buffets . So now you ' ve learned , " I shouldn ' t pick the buffet option . I should order off the menu . That way , I ' ll know exactly what food I ' ll get , in a set portion ." Studies show that we tend to eat more when faced with a bigger variety , and when it ' s self-serve , we can serve ourselves a lot ! Remind yourself , " I learned this lesson the hard way . Next time , I ' ll make a different choice ."
4 . DON ' T LET THE PERFECT BE THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD .
When we ' re making resolutions , it ' s easy to set big ambitious goals , and sometimes it ' s tough to meet them . We plan to train for a 5K , or get the basement cleared out , or write a rough draft of a novel by the end of the year . Then , we fail to make progress , it ' s easy to get discouraged and accuse ourselves of laziness .
Remember , any progress is better than no progress ! You may not have finished a full draft , but you have an outline of your novel . You haven ' t switched careers yet , but you ' ve started thinking about next steps .
Some people find it helpful to keep a tada list . A to-do list reminds you of what you need to get done ; a ta-da list reminds you of all you ' ve accomplished already . A ta-da list can be a tremendous source of energy and reassurance .
5 . CONSIDER YOUR TENDENCY .
Often , when we fail to make progress , it ' s because we haven ' t taken our Tendency into account . For instance , if you ' re an Obliger , you must have outer accountability . You must ! That ' s what works for Obligers ! If you see that a particular form of outer accountability isn ' t working , trying a different form . If paying for a trainer doesn ' t get you to go to the gym , try working out with a friend who ' s very annoyed when you don ' t show up . If that doesn ' t work , teach a class . If that doesn ' t work , think of your duty to be a role model for someone else . If that doesn ' t work , join a group on the Better app where you tell each other , " I ' m counting on you to count on me . If none of us hold each other accountable , none of us will succeed ."
If you ' re a Rebel , don ' t try to lock yourself into a to-do list or a schedule . That often doesn ' t work for a Rebel . Think about what you want , and how you want to live up to your identity .
If you ' re a Questioner , really examine your reasons . Why are you doing this , in this way ? Is it the best , most efficient way , and is it tailored to suit you specifically ? When Questioners struggle , it ' s usually because they ' re fundamentally unconvinced by whatever they ' re trying to do .
If you don ' t know your Tendency — whether you ' re an Upholder , Obliger , Questioner , or Rebel — you can take the free , quick quiz here – quiz . gretchenrubin . com .
6 . ARE YOU GIVING YOURSELF HEALTHY TREATS ?
When we give more to ourselves , we can ask more from ourselves . If you ' re asking a lot of yourself these days , make sure you ' re helping yourself feel energized and cared for by giving yourself healthy treats , whatever that might be for you . For me , it ' s reading children ' s literature .
But make sure these are healthy treats . You don ' t want to try to make yourself feel better by indulging in something