Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Slide

The Slide is that thing that occurs between the time when you have focus, energy, determination and enthusiasm for something positive and productive in your life, and when you don't. Hundreds of thousands of people who set goals on January 1 are beginning to feel The Slide right now. Good intentions quickly switch back to old bad habits again. This is a very difficult period for people because the transition is often abrupt, unexpected and overwhelming. I've seen news stories on the tube and newspaper articles touting January 22nd as the most depressing day of the year because some expert somewhere determined that Americans fall back into old habits on the third Monday of January. The Slide can happen any time of year and it often occurs several times in a year for many people. It happens in relationships, at work, with our finances, you name it. One day we've got our act together and the next it all goes to hell in a handcart.

In most cases The Slide doesn't just happen, it's triggered by something. An occurrence that overwhelms us. An unanticipated event that causes one or more rock solid patterns in our lives to go south. Whether it's a sudden case of tennis elbow, a breakup with your girlfriend or a letter from the IRS, this trigger can throw all the positive behavior in your life, right out the window. The truth is, calling this shift "The Slide" is being kind. I should call it "The Crash" because it turns up into upside down overnight sometimes. Bad shellfish and a night of poor sleep might be all some folks need to start the downward spiral. If there's been a pattern of see-saw events in your life then you're probably very familiar with The Slide. Good intentions have never been enough to keep people on track, so the only way to keep from sliding back (to the old ways) is to surround yourself with good people and a plan/philosophy to reach for when the going gets tough.

Let me say that I've been a victim of The Slide in years past. I've also had a very strong tug to blow some things off again this year. My tendency has been to fight it, but I've learned that avoiding The Slide requires flowing not fighting. I'll get these two voices in my head that have a little discussion about what to do (or not do) when it comes to tough decisions and things that require some discipline. When I've had a good night's sleep, kept stress at bay, made a plan for the week and ate healthy food then the voice of productivity kicks the crap out of the whoa-is-me voice. I've noticed that I struggle most when I'm lacking clarity about what it is I want from day to day. When there are lots of untidy loose ends in my world I end up sliding all over the place. The difference between fighting and flowing is the difference between sliding back or going forward. I think far too many of us freak-out about the outcome of events in our lives before we even start them.

If you want to slide less then you need to flight less and flow more. This means that you need to take the focus off of the future and see if you can do the right thing right now. How many calories you need to eat per meal so that you can lose 2 pounds a week in the first phase of your program is crazy talk! How many days into the future do you want to think this way? Unless you're a robot (and some people are) this approach will cause a slide show every time. When you flow you show up in the moment and you never beat yourself up when things don't go perfectly. The line between fight/slide and flow/go is very subtle because the activity between the two looks the same until the fighter fails. Not to say that flow people can't slip and fall, it's just that they don't recognize failure the way fighters do, so they rarely suffer from the slide. The bottom line is that if you want to slide less and flow more then sit back and enjoy the ride, do YOUR thing, go at your pace, make a plan without being attached to the outcome and surround yourself with people in-the-know who want to help you succeed.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Mind The Gap

There is something unique about that feeling you get with the start of a new year. I know it sounds cliche but I really do believe that January 1 gives us the opportunity to start over again. It's interesting that the chaos of the holiday's ends abruptly and we're given a brand new year to set the plan and get to work. The mistakes and sub-par behavior of the year before get washed away and 2007 can be the year that we plant the seeds for change. It's that time of year when everyone's glass gets filled to the brim. So why is it so hard for so many of us to sustain this vigor and enthusiasm beyond the first few months of the year?

I think that most of us know deep inside that we're two people. The person we are right now, and the one we'd like to be in the future. We all have dreams, desires and aspirations that create thoughts and feelings that are nurtured by taking action. Our thoughts become things and events and these things and events become our history. Going from who we are to who we want to be requires minding the gap between the two. Choice and time provide results within the gap. Most of us would like to improve as we get older, but in most cases the opposite occurs. Too often we settle for the status quo and end up living lives of quiet desperation. Look around and tell me it's not true.

With every passing year creating positive and permanent change gets harder and harder. Teaching old dogs new tricks that stick often requires cleaning out the doghouse. I'm taking about how important it is to make a conscious shift in your approach to life. This shift needs to look and feel honest and authentic. You must believe it and trust it in your core. You have to turn off the old negative noise floating around in your head and free yourself of all the naysayers and non-believers. Any ties to ill advised past behavior will be extremely detrimental to your ability to close the gap. This is scary life altering stuff and it's not for the weak at heart. If closing the gap was a simple and fast task then the journey wouldn't be worth it.

The one thing I've learned in 24 years of helping people get fit and healthy, is that this journey called life provides endless opportunities to mind the gap. Living in the past, the future and for others is surely a trap that will swallow you alive. As long as we stay wide eyed, flexible, curious and patient, this earth is our playground. Each and every moment can be precious and spectacular. Stay in the moment and surround yourself with loving supportive people who understand and accept your journey. If you can do that then you become the person you'd like to be.