We all have worked very hard over the years to get to where we are. When we run into challenges, like injuries or when we fall off the exercise or diet wagon…we despair. That’s really the best word for it; “Despair”. With a capital ‘D’.
It’s hard to break out of a pattern and to climb the hill of fitness or weight loss. When you hit a bad stretch it all collapses so much faster than it was built. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? You can gain back the weight it took you two weeks to lose in 2 days. You can lose the fitness it took you two years to build in two months.
Where is the fairness in that? It seems like we are fighting an uphill battle against a malevolent universe.
When you come to these spots where you have fallen down it’s easy to say “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep moving!” But it’s not so easy to do. When the forces of the malevolent universe keep throwing rocks at you it’s easy to give up.
Today I offer this advice. Learn the art of the tactical retreat. Many of the great military leaders in history have created victory from the tactical retreat.
Master the art of the tactical retreat.
Sometimes you must give ground to find the right moment, when the advantage is yours, to wheel around and crush a foe.
The key to these victories is the leader’s ability to keep his forces in order while giving ground. Employing a disciplined retreat, not a chaotic rout. These tactical retreats often cause an overconfident foe to over-extend and become vulnerable.
Most of the people I have talked to who have lost large amounts of weight will tell me that they failed 3 or 4 or more times in their journey. They tried again and again until they had the desired lifestyle that they wanted.
Most of the successful athletes we have talked to have had major setbacks. There have been accidents, sicknesses, failures and injuries, but they kept move forward.
How do you turn a setback into a victory? Easy – by learning from it. Everyone who is successful at anything had to overcome challenges and they continue to overcome challenges every day. It’s a fact of life.
Yet, even though we know we will be challenged we fall apart emotionally when we face these challenges. We run away, we get depressed, we give up and we despair. It doesn’t make sense. We knew we’d be challenged. Then why does the setback cause so much damage?
Partly it hits us hard because we might have been close to our goal. We tasted the sweet honey of our accomplishment and had it taken away. We don’t see the gains, we don’t see the good, we only see the loss; the ‘might have been’.
This is a construct of our own psyche and can be managed.
Even though we know that we will be challenged, we don’t really believe it. We see an unbroken chain of success leading off into the future and it breaks us when this does not happen.
How do you prepare and plan to employ a tactical retreat to keep from giving up?
When you are setting your goals set an action plan for what you will do when you face a challenge. Think about it ahead of time. This is called contingency planning.
If I get injured and can’t work out for a month I will do XYZ to keep my mind and body in the game.
By setting out the rules ahead of time as to what you will do and how you will react the setback becomes part of your plan, not an exception. You don’t have to take the shock of what to do because you will already have a plan.
You can use contingency planning to create your tactical retreat.
What are you going to do if you fall off your diet for a couple days? It’s going to happen. If you think about it ahead of time you can take the sting out of it. You can retrench. You can tactically retreat.
Remember this: you can’t change the past, you can only change the future. Whatever big plans you had don’t matter anymore. When you hit the setback the most important thing is to get yourself moving in the right direction again.
Don’t worry about beating yourself up. Don’t worry about the big plans you had. Don’t worry about the accomplishments you had attained. Worry about one simple thing: what am I going to do today that move me in the right direction?
If you can stop your despair in its tracks and start moving slowly forward again you will be able to create that positive momentum that makes your journey worthwhile.