How to get back on track: 5 strategies to refocus and dominate your goals
By Pete Cataldo
There’s that old saying that humans are creatures of habit. This is me to a T. I need my regular routine to be able to function like a normal human (and coffee, by the way … always coffee).
But, anytime I’m thrown off of my normal routine game of popping up early and banging out some words on paper, it’s like I might as well have been hit with the Ebola virus and I’m left struggling to get back on track again.
I’m stuck. And I let it take the power away and prevent me from actually getting back quickly into my routine. Suddenly, it’s been four or five days and I’m still struggling to find my normal schedule.
Many deal with this same kind of drama to start the New Year after totally bombing just a few weeks after their Resolutions.
The University of Scranton determined that only about 8-percent of people see their New Year’s Resolutions all the way through completion. This is a big reason why I don’t advocate the old school method of belching out some bullshit pledge during a drunken moment at a party while the ball drops to bring in the new year.
Instead, I encourage a much more organized process of mapping out goals and finding measurable markers and deadlines to ensure completion.
This is all fine and dandy for those of the group that are perfect little angels that can write down a goal, map out a plan and follow it through with rigid dedication until completion.
For the rest of us, we’ve got to find a way to combat the nonstop pushing and pulling and random bullshit that pops up throughout the course of our distracted lives of work, parenting and binge-watching marathons of Stranger Things on Netflix.
Falling off of the wagon and getting off track on our pursuit of our goals does not make you a fuck up. It makes you a fucking human.
We’ve all been there. It’s January 1st and the added holiday weight from those Christmas cookies means a few extra unwanted pounds. The jeans suddenly ain’t fitting right and that summer vacation to Cabo in six months will here sooner than you can say “speedo.”
Time to dust off the tried and true New Year’s Resolution of the seemingly endless struggle to commit to the game of weight loss as the goal.
Perhaps you even took the extra, and scientifically-proven method, of charting out your goals and determining a roadmap to success that will allow for measurable progress on a deadline.
Related: If you need to learn how to make SMART Goals to attack your dreams, read this shit right here. Unless you’re cool with not seeing any actual progress, then enjoy living in the dark.
The gameplan is in place. The marching orders delivered. And for a good three or four weeks it is all about vigilance towards dropping 10 to 15 pounds before May.
Proper nutrition. Regular exercise. Self control. Accountability from friends and family.
Until February rolls around and you’ve been launched into some bullshit ass project that has you spending a few extra hours at the office. How the fuck can you workout if your Netflix and Chill night has turned into burning the midnight oil behind a fucking desk while pounding out emails?
To compensate the limited personal time, it leads to limiting time to workout. Those healthy packed and prepared lunches of salads and leftovers from last night’s culinary brilliance turns into takeout so you can take a working lunch. The workout sessions after work disappear, too.
You’ve fallen off the proverbial wagon harder than taking a bludger to the face on the Quidditch field.
Failure is a part of life. Once we accept it and appreciate that shit, we can go about the business of dominating our obstacles and crushing this cruel ass game of life.
Here are five strategies get back on track, refocus and start crushing again:
Probably not a great place to give up on a goal and fall off. But, the point here is to keep making small adjustments and improvements along the journey, you don’t have to climb the mountain all in one step.
Photograph by Mars Williams via Unsplash
Focus on small wins
You know what’s better than zero percent? One percent. You know what’s better than one percent? Two percent. And so on and so forth.
Even though it may seem small and meaningless, small victories add up over time and and can lead to major wins.
If you’ve lost sight of the goal and fallen off the wagon, the best way to get back to crushing again is by shifting the goal for the smallest victory possible.
If you’ve stopped working out, don’t worry about hitting the gym for a marathon session to make up for lost time. Instead do whatever you can to simply get moving again.
- Maybe it’s a 10-minute interval based session on a stationary bike.
- Perhaps it’s 15 minutes of pushups, squats and pull-ups.
- Or maybe it’s a 20-minute walk around the block after dinner.
Whatever it is that will get you thinking about that big pie in the sky dream and have you motivated towards achieving goals again, that’s a win. It’s better than you did yesterday. And tomorrow, you’ll do better than you did today.
I’ve talked before about the importance of dreaming for big things to happen in life. This time on earth is too fucking short to simple get by. We should all strive for greatness.
But, doing big things doesn’t necessarily mean we have to be ready to run the Boston Marathon after barely struggling to pound out 10 minutes on the treadmill last week.
Big victories can come from minor wins.
“Falling off of the wagon and getting off track on our pursuit of our goals does not make you a fuck up. It makes you a fucking human.”
Schedule your habits
I’m a firm believer that time is our most precious commodity. We can always make more money. We can always find more food. But until the real life Doc Brown redesigns the DeLorean, we aren’t going to get back our time.
Be meticulous with your calendar. The more dialed in and organized we are in the time we have throughout our day, the more freedom we will ultimately have.
I’m up at 5:00 a.m. in the morning to write before anyone else in the house pops up. I block out time everyday for meditation, journaling, and working out. I set time in the day for marketing and social media check-ins and project work for my voiceover clients.
Sounds like I’ve got no time in the day to sleep, eat or watch TV.
Truth is, I schedule my day so I can find time to read multiple books, spend time with my toddler and still stay up to date with the latest episode of Game of Thrones.
From a business standpoint, not only do I work for myself, but I also have my daughter around the house throughout the day.
I have to be dialed-in this way in order to stay above water.
My point is if your schedule is iron clad, than there can be no excuses to spend that extra 20-30 minutes every day to get one step closer to your goal.
For those that want to play the whiny little bitch card and complain about not having enough time in day, just don’t come at me, bro. I’ve got a toddler running around the house while I manage to write, produce voiceover and work with fitness clients each and every day of the week.
There is time in the day. Block off a few hours on a weekend to start looking into your daily grind. Be honest with yourself and budget your time harder than an accountant.
Trying to lose weight? Schedule your workouts into your calendar.
Attempting to get more into meditation and mindfulness? Set reminders throughout the day to pause for mindfulness and deep breathing.
Writing a book? Wake up 20 minutes earlier and make a contract with yourself to write for 15 minutes.
Create a schedule and do whatever you can to stick to that schedule. No matter how small the blocks of times, it all adds up to big changes eventually.
Or just keeping waiting for the flux capacitor to go into development so you can go back in time and smack yourself in the face for not falling this advice sooner.
Focus on the goal ahead and be prepared to sprint to the finish. Damn, that was profound as hell.
Photograph by William Stitt via Unsplash
Find an accountability partner
My wife and I work out together every Sunday morning. She hates it because I’m a hardass trainer that doesn’t take “no” for an answer and demands excellence and perfect form.
Truth be told: yeah, I’m a bit tougher on her because it allows me to take out some extra frustration for telling me to wash the dishes the previous night or some shit. But, whatever.
For my actual paying clients, I’m actually all sunshine and encouraging roses.
But, I digress.
The point of my weekly workouts with my ball and chain (and my wife) are to hold each other accountable.
Truth is, I hate working out on Sunday. That’s God’s day. It’s also football Sunday. It’s also just a nice day to relax.
But, we know that if all else fails throughout the course of the upcoming week – crazy work schedules, random bouts of drunken illness or peeps popping in to visit out of the blue because they want to stay in our closet-sized NYC apartment – we at least knocked out a ridiculous workout together.
So we push each other to get off our ass and get moving every single Sunday.
Find a partner that will hold you to a similar set of accountability.
Blast out a message to your friends and racist uncles on Facebook. Text your bestie and tell her to follow along in the journey. Start a blog and publish continuous updates on your progress.
Accountability can come from multiple sources. It can be tough love or even play the nice cop roll.
Whatever it is that gets you matriculating towards dominating those lofty goals, do it.
Reevaluate your successes
Sometimes we aim a little too high in the sky for what we can reasonably achieve in the amount of time we’ve determined.
It’s okay to realize that maybe losing 20 pounds in four weeks is not going to be humanly possible if you can only manage to workout once or twice a week and haven’t really figured out how to eat a proper diet based on proper nutrient intake.
Maybe it’s unreasonable to believe that writing that manuscript by summertime is not going to happen with just 20 minutes per day to write and research.
It’s totally acceptable to take a step back every once in awhile and make tweaks to the plan whenever an adjustment is needed.
I’m a reformed sports junky – I used to get paid to watch sports and talk about it for a living, but now my time consuming competitive events is limited with entrepreneurship, fatherhood and marriage taking higher priorities.
But I still love the chess matches that play themselves out every time two opponents meet on the field. It’s a constant back and forth of tweaking approaches until things stick – unless you’re the Cleveland Browns, then shit just doesn’t ever seem to stick for y’all.
Most sports include a halftime. It’s not just for Beyonce and Lady Gaga to get turnt up and entertain the audience. Intermission allows for teams to make adjustments to the gameplan and find the correct balance of tweaks and strategies to come out victorious.
This goes on for each and every game in every single sport. My point: don’t ever be afraid to check in with your goals and see if you can make slight adjustments to the overall metric or deadline to make it work for you and get back on track.
Give a shit
Perhaps the reason why you are missing out on whatever new habit or goal you’re working towards is because you really just don’t care.
Search your feelings, young Skywalker, you know it to be true.
It’ll be pretty tough to get back on track of a goal or dream if that goal or dream is not really worth chasing at all.
Sure, it could be a hard fucking pill to swallow, but sometimes we just started a project or goal because of peer pressure or simply because we thought it looked cool on TV when [insert celeb] did it on her reality show.
While I’ve hopefully poked a hole in that concept of being too busy to have time for X, Y or Z because of some bullshit reason, it is important to also understand that we do only have so much time in a day.
Don’t spend that precious commodity by wasting it on something that you only half-heartedly want to achieve.
Be passionate about your goals.
Love your goals and love your journey to complete them. It’ll all pay off so much better in the long run.
And if you’re really not in love with the dream and not ready to send a Valentine’s Day card to that goal of going full vegan by May, then by all means, jump ship and find some better dreams to chase that will make you feel all kinds of a gooey inside.
Forming new habits is not easy.
Lifestyle redesign and personal improvement are multi-million dollar industries that feature career life coaches; so yeah, sometimes it’s going to be really hard to start a new fitness plan, manage a budget or quit smoking.
The key is to anticipate shortcomings and the setbacks and the obstacles and realize that they are all just part of the journey.
When you overcome those challenges and look back at the adventure a year from now, you’ll appreciate the battle scars that helped you finally crush your dreams and goals.
Now it’s your turn to comment below.
What are you doing to get back on track of your goals and dreams? Where are your obstacles? What are your tips for others trying to get back on the wagon?