I’m a huge nerd for personal development. Consequently, I’m a member of a mastermind group full of people smarter and more talented than I am.
Recently, one of the members said: “This week I personally have not been performing the way I normally do. I wonder how you other members get back on track and refocus when you have fallen behind on your goals?”
I started reading through the answers, all of them solid:
- Shit happens. Take time to relax. You don’t always have to be a top performer.
- Steer into the skid. Give yourself permission to continue the ‘bad’ behavior until X. Then get back on track.
- Money motivates. Use sticck.com to keep you honest about your goals.
- Involve others. Get an accountability partner. (I have one of those. Hi Eric!)
All good advice, right?
And yet there was one answer that blew me away. So much so that I read it… twice. Then bookmarked it. Then asked her to re-purpose her answer so I could share it with all of you.
The following is Kim‘s answer to the question: “How to Refocus Yourself When You Hit a Snag?”
It’s winter and cold, and your bed feels so warm. . . so you sleep in rather than hop out of bed to get a workout in before dawn. Or your girlfriend’s car breaks down, adding stress and unexpected financial strain to your life. You start feeling that familiar pull towards guilt, discouragement, despair. You’re slipping again, wandering off-target after all your careful planning and dedicated work.
We all go there from time to time. When you find yourself in that place, here’s what I want you to remember.
1. You are a human. Be kind to yourself. Always.
Extreme weather affects you — heat, cold, we humans to respond to different weather. It’s ok. Take steps to feel cozy, as much as you can. Let your body feel safe and secure. Decide to give yourself little gifts that support you: maybe plan for an extra hour of sleep, or enjoy hot shower, or take time to paint your nails (that kind of slow, focused attention can be very calming for me!). Maybe invite your fiancé to cuddle and tell him all the reasons you love him and are happy to be marrying him, to have him with you along the journey of life. . . no matter what.
2. Be compassionate. Give yourself love and comfort.
Go easy on yourself. No need to beat yourself up. Love and comfort restore us. Being compassionate with yourself means you spend less energy on inner conflict. And you enjoy the journey more. Note that joy is very motivating, and energizing.
3. Connect with desire.
Every goal has a red hot kernel of desire within it, some reason why it matters. If it doesn’t, it’s probably the wrong goal. Even if you’re not taking action — skipping the gym because the car is in the shop, or the weather is really, truly, horrible — connect to the feeling of desire within the goal. Why does it matter? Go deep.
Note that desire is a motive force — it moves us, it drives us, it inspires us to action. So reconnecting with deep desire may help you see a creative and alternative path to the goal. Maybe you sleep in and skip the gym, but remind yourself that sleep is healing and keeps you healthy and well. Maybe that’s what you need today. Connecting to desire may also make other choices less appealing — so you’re not interested in the extra fries, or eating the entire box of cookies (oh yes, I have done this!).
4. Relax in the face of reality, and all arising conditions.
Life offers you unexpected and unplanned-for events. Relax. Acknowledge the challenge. A calm state is a better place for making decisions. Maybe adjust your course. Maybe the plan and goals need to now account for this unexpected circumstance. Relaxing in the face of challenges helps keep you out of the spiral of despair.
5. Be a good friend to yourself.
Imagine a friend is heading towards a destination, but stops along the way. Maybe to rest, maybe to get their bearings, maybe to re-check the map to see if it’s a place they still want to get to. How would you talk to that friend? Would you yell at them, and call them names? Would you beat them up for taking a break?
Probably not. Yet we tend to treat ourselves that way.
Be willing to extend the same kindness to yourself as you would a dear friend. When a friend is lost, you extend a hand and gently lead them back. It’s the same with refocusing when you feel stuck, stalled, or derailed. You simply notice, and bring yourself back with kindness.
It might feel strange at first, but give it a try. And see what happens.
Kim Nicol, J.D., teaches top-performers how to meditate. She has a knack for making meditation accessible, relatable, and practical for people who are grounded in modern life. She’s the creator of 5mindfulminutes.com and has successfully introduced meditation and applied mindfulness to engineers, data scientists, and attorneys. Connect with Kim at kimnicol.com