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.


Anonymous said...

AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME!!! :D You just brought a whole new meaning to "Go with the Flow" know??? This is the first year in a loooong time that I haven't felt the Slide kick in big time! I have ever block on my January calendar crossed off with a big RED "X" so far and I'm enjoying my "clean" meals 90/10. I'm loving the 10% mind you too! I won't lie! AND THE TV's down to a maximum of 2 hrs./day. Some days it stays off! WOO HOO! I examined my "Reality" and learned you were right...I was bored (and lonely). Don't feel that way much anymore. You've changed my life in more ways than you'll ever know, Mr. Hortonhead! Luv ya!!! (in a brotherly type way) ;) :D

LORI J (Ontario)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wake up. I am in the middle of a slide. I know this because I am making stupid eating decisions, and not having 6 intense workouts/week. Last night I didn't even need a shower. I have not been planning ahead.

Today I'll work on a plan, and then work the plan...I'll flow with it!

nick said...

Hey Tony,

The voice of productivity. I really like that! With so much negative and pathetic mind chatter coursing through most of our heads, it's a wonder that anyone really gets anything done right. And why does negativity and bad news sell so well? Because we're all so damned results oriented in this beautiful country of ours! Let's start enjoying the ride and maybe the results will improve and keep improving endlessly! When I'm doing my vinyasa, do I worry about that last downward dog? No way, I'm living in the moment, baby! The present is the end and the end is the present. The last shall be first and the first shall be last. Fear of what could be?? What?!? Just plan and do, or just do, and what could be suddenly is. Failure is a big chunk of success. You fall, then you get up! What people think or what you think they think means squat! Keep moving, express yourself, be yourself. You were made the way you are for a reason that we can hardly grasp. Let go, be it, look it, feel it, live it, love it, want it, it's all yours!

Iso the top, brutha!


Dale said...

Dude, that just might be some of the best advice and writing you have ever given!


Anonymous said...

Tony, that was awesome, and the comments were just as awesome! This advise is so timely. Normally, this is the time I feel my motivation sliding. Not this time! Why? I'm hanging around with a little...well, actually a LARGE group called the Agent X'ers! It's all about the people you hang out with and enjoying the present.

Judy (cani)

traci morrow said...

This line should be taught in schools:

"Not to say that flow people can't slip and fall, it's just that they don't recognize failure the way fighters do"

BINGO!! Seriously, that really is what it comes down to. Perspective. Mindset. Is the glass half full, half empty, or are we just thankful we have a glass?! :)

When you open up your heart and share what you go through COMBINED with what you know, you are a force to be reckoned with.

Love your guts!!!

psalm9567 said...


Amen to what Traci said! I was thinking the same thing, but she said it much better!

Hope you had a great time skiing!


hmmoy said...

"he sang as if he knew me, in all my dark despair..." Just like Roberta Flack in "Killing me softly"--Tony you just spoke right to me! I'd love to have your voice in my head instead of the "woe is me" voice!!! What an awesome post and replies. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Anne D said...

Hey Tony,
What really hit me was.. "make a plan without being attached to the outcome."
Enjoy it! Yes! :)
Anne Dovel