Before the beginning of the year, I sat down and figured out my goals for 2020. Just like I said I was going to do in Goal Setting: What happened in 2019, I limited them to three and emphasized action over achievement. I even went as far as to study James Clear’s Atomic Habits to help me overcome some of the shortcomings that prevent me from achieving goals, such as chronic procrastination. With a solid plan in place and a clear image of what I wanted to accomplish, I got to work a few days early.
On December 28th, 2019, I started to work on my 2020 goals, and I created a journal (log) to record distractions. In a few days, the journal developed into a daily checklist of atomic habits, small daily actions, that would lead me towards achieving my goals. I was going gangbusters for the first month. Each day, I was able to check off a large portion of the 13 items that would lead me to the end zone. Then it happened.
After twenty-nine consecutive days of creating daily, staying productive, and avoiding procrastination, I got sick, and then it started to unwind. One day I wrote, “Sick today. I can’t stop coughing” in my journal, and the next day I did nothing. The following day, I was able to muster enough motivation to start a new six-day streak to complete a few articles I was writing. After posting them, I was done and had nothing left in me to figure out what I was going to do next. I kept up with my journal entries for a week. My last entry noted that I had been coughing for twelve days, and breathing was slightly better. It would be another three days before the cough eased up enough to stop worrying about it, but by that time, I had stopped journaling, stopped performing my atomic habits, and was no longer attempting to work towards my goals. I needed something to rekindle the fire.
Whatever that something was that I needed to put a little pep in my step wasn’t there. I had no motivation to start creating. Not even the consecutive streak of dashes, which indicate I didn’t perform my atomic habit for the day, would guilt me into action. But Finally, after seventy-five days, I wrote and posted an article.
What was it that broke me out of my slump and got me back on track? I want to know. No, I need to know, so I can use it when I face another downturn.
I think it was that someone showed a bit of interest in the blog, and asked me if I was writing anything new, which I hadn’t for some time. The positive feedback mixed with the slightest hint of guilt got me back on course. It was a bit lonely producing content and receiving crickets back as a response. It’s hard to keep pushing through the silence. So, receiving the slightest amount of feedback was invigorating.
I also believe lacking a clear path or direction for this project caused me to lose focus when I completed those articles at the end of January. I, of course, have an action list that I could have pulled from and started to work on, but writing exercise instruction guides is not that enthralling. It is rather tedious work. I need to get it done, and I am sure I will, but in the meantime, I am still searching for my voice and the direction I want to take this project.
What I am saying is I feel creating pieces with more open dialogue and opinions instead of solely focusing on instruction is more rewarding and motivating. It is more enjoyable to sit down and start hammering on the keyboard for these types of articles than it is for instructional pieces. Those take time to plan, research, and structure; whereas, an opinion piece is more forgiving and open to interpretation.
With that realization, I am planning on mixing freestyle articles with instructional pieces. Hopefully, that will keep me motived to create daily.
Before I wrap this up, I want to note that I have been staying on top of my fitness goal. Working out is ingrained into my being. It is easier to get out of a rut for a habit that has formed over three years than one I have practiced for thirty-days.
So, in conclusion, when you fall off the wagon, seek out some positive reinforcement and adjust your plan to get back on it. Remember, not all is lost. Keep pushing.
I'm a has-been high school athlete who now enjoys CrossFit, baseball, and other athletic activities. As a profession, I design software, and I create the majority of I.M.s content. I do it for the fun of it, but I hope it helps others pursue fitness.