Did you set any New Year’s resolutions this year? Or lay out any big dreams or goals for the year? This is the time of year we all take a step back to dream and set goals. We have the fresh slate of a new year ahead and have this opportunity to do something new. Yet, studies (and our own experience) show that most of these will fail.
You’ll start off strong, but somewhere along the way you’ll begin to falter. You’ll miss a few days at the gym, get sick and fall out of new routines, hit some bumps in the road and lose your resolve. Getting back on track can feel overwhelming once you’ve lost some ground. So, how do you get back on the horse and restart a resolution once you’ve fallen? How can you ensure you get started and stay on track with your goals this new year?
How Do You Get Back on the Horse After You Slip?
I started last year with so many plans, so much passion, and took on so many projects. I had big dreams, big goals, and big ideas about the year ahead. Then life hit, as it inevitably does. As the unexpected began to fill my time and consume my energy, all those big plans began to drop. I had to lay down projects and start saying “no” to things I never dreamed I’d have to turn down. Even writing took a back seat. After nearly three years of consistently writing every morning, I had to accept that other priorities were more important in this season.
For a while I thought maybe it was time to call it quits, maybe falling out of my writing habits meant this dream was over. Maybe I couldn’t get back into the game, maybe I wasn’t enough to do this. Isn’t that what happens? You lose one foothold, slip out of one habit, and then your resolve and determination begin to crumble.
Yet, I couldn’t shake that nudging to keep going, that tug at my heart to keep pursuing this dream God planted in me. But how? I was so, so tired and weary. Life was still overwhelming me in so many areas. I had too many things to get back in order. I’d fallen too far off the track…
Take a Step, Take a Step
One step at a time. That’s the answer. You can always get back up and start over. One step at a time.
Take a step, take a step.
I started back small. Just get up at my old writing time and do something. I didn’t expect greatness or even anything complete. In fact, one morning, I settled for just cleaning out my inbox. But, I was up and rebuilding habits. Slowly, as I recommitted to the discipline of sitting at my computer, I began to make progress. I started writing and planning. Step by step.
Bit by bit, old habits began to feel familiar again. Getting up early became less of a challenge. In fact, I even started looking forward to getting up and having those few, precious hours of quiet before the house erupts in the energy and noise of children and the day’s activities.
How can you keep pressing forward on those goals, even after you slip?
5 Steps to Restart a Resolution After You’ve Slipped
Restarting habits and goals once we’ve slipped is hard, sometimes feeling impossible. It’s going to require more resolve than you have on your own. So, open a conversation with God about it. Ask Him to confirm if this is something He has as a priority for your life right now and then ask His help to achieve it.
2) Take the first step
Decide on a first step and just take it. Don’t place any big expectations on that step, but take one. Maybe you don’t get into the gym, but you at least go for a walk during your planned workout time. Maybe you don’t have the full diet in effect, but you clear out the sugary treats from your pantry and remove one temptation. Maybe you don’t get the whole house reorganized, but you clean out one drawer in the bathroom. Take a step. Then another and another. Before long, you’ll be making progress and gaining ground toward your goal.
3) Make a plan
As you begin taking steps and begin to get back on the proverbial horse, take time to make a plan. Decide on your end goal and write it down. Then, think (and pray) about how you’ll get there. What are the activities you need to do to reach that goal? How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? Are there some measures you can set? Next, break each of those down into manageable-sized tasks you can achieve.
4) Share your plan with someone close
You need accountability and support to restart your plan. Share your goals and plans with someone close and ask them to support you and hold you accountable to your plan.
5) Don’t expect perfection
Change doesn’t happen overnight. It evolves slowly, so give yourself some grace to make mistakes as you go. Don’t expect perfection right away (or ever). In fact, expect to have more days when you struggle to keep up with your plan. Expect days you’ll just be going through the motions of your plan or will only succeed with part of your plan. Don’t give up. Keep pressing forward though the imperfect, trusting that you’ll reach your goals in the long-term.
Will you get back on your horse?
Writing still feels a bit new, a little hard, and very vulnerable. I mean, what if I can’t get my head back into it? What if it’s been too long and I’m too rusty at this? What if the words won’t come? But, I’m sitting at my desk a little bit every day, putting words on paper, and taking baby steps back toward my dreams. I’m getting back on the horse and I’m determined to ride it wherever God is taking me.
What dream or goal have you slipped from? Where have you fallen off your resolutions and plans? Will you take a step today to get back on? Let’s do this together and prove the world wrong. With God’s help, we can do more than we can imagine and we can achieve those dreams and resolutions we so carefully set each year. Let’s take a step together toward the future.