Resolutions Broken Already? Don’t Start Over; Resume Your Journey

Don't let your detours distract you from your goal. Just get back on the road and keep driving.
Don’t let your detours distract you from your goal. Just get back on the road and keep driving.

One of the things I hate about New Year’s resolutions is that they are like giving my Inner Perfectionist an IV of caffeine and a metal baseball bat. When she isn’t pumped about making a detailed plan and striving for the goal, she is beating me senseless for failing to stick with it, no matter how tiny my deviation might be.

A friend who is trying a paleo diet for the first time by doing a 30-day challenge slipped after two weeks. She told the other people she took the challenge with the truth, that she ate some cheese. She was feeling awful physically and emotionally, and had developed a new level of commitment to following a paleo diet as a result.

One of her challenge buddies got out her bat and let her have it. She lectured her like an angry drill sergeant and followed up with a group message that basically said, “Loser here is back on day 1. She has to start over.”

I am angry at this woman for her harsh words and attitude. My friend was already feeling rotten and didn’t need anyone yelling at her. I also don’t believe in “back to square one” and this is why.

Imagine you are driving across the United States. You get in your car in New York City, heading for Los Angeles. Things go well at first. Plenty of gas, plenty of snacks, a good audiobook to listen to. You are on your way. But when you get to Ohio, you see signs for a detour. You take a wrong turn. You drive along back roads and lose your sense of direction. You you are lost. You might even be driving back towards New York, losing miles you’ve already gained.

Once you realize what has happened and remember where you want to go, you stop and get help. You look at your map or GPS. You figure out what you need to do next to get back on track and you do it.

You do not drive back to New York City so you can start the trip all over again.

Telling my friend she is on day one is telling her to go back to New York when she’s already in Ohio. She has two weeks of practicing her new eating habits and making major changes to her behavior. So she didn’t do a day perfectly. So what? Now it’s time to get back on the road, point the car at L.A., and go. She’ll never get there otherwise.

Have you had a slip or break in one of your resolutions? How have you decided to handle it?

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