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  • Lenore Lambert

Falling Off the Wagon

This week has been a shocker. I've fallen off the wagon on multiple fronts.

Recently, a friend and I buddied up to support each other progressing our projects. We both have online course/ coaching businesses that we're trying to launch. Flourish is mine.

We'd found ourselves procrastinating and attending to everything BUT our project. So we're now setting weekly tasks for ourselves and reporting back to each other on Fridays.

This week we both fell off the wagon. Neither of us achieved much at all.

I also fell off the wagon with my sport. I'm a committed Masters track athlete with an awesome new coach and squad. We kicked off the new season of training three weeks ago. I've been working hard and seeing visible improvement each week.

Yesterday though, I couldn't finish my training session because I'd fallen off the wagon with my food intake (didn't eat enough) and I had a few drinks for a friend's birthday the night before.

So there's disappointment wafting around. But worse than that, my friend found that the disappointment flung open the door to the voice of self-criticism. Some quotes from her weekly report:

"God I'm pathetic!"


"Sometimes I remind myself of a needy toddler."

I know this territory well. As I started to pay attention to it, I saw that this critical voice would stop me in my tracks. It tended to label me as 'hopeless', or 'lazy' or some other non-virtue, and that label would lead to me giving up.

However I've found an effective replacement for criticism in these moments. It's hard to stop these negative voices unless you have a more compelling voice to replace it with - to drown it out so to speak. The voice that gets cut-through for me, is.... curiosity.

Every experience we have is the product of a bunch of conditions coming together, internally and externally. Internal conditions are factors inside us like thoughts, emotions and our patterns between these two things, our physical state including whether we're nourished, healthy, and whether we've had enough sleep.

External conditions are factors outside of us like events in our immediate world (think: disrupted work, sport and social connections at the moment), in the lives of those close to us (because we're empathic beings), and in our broader community (think: bushfires, floods, COVID-19 pandemic!!).

Rather than allowing the critical voice free reign, turning our attention to curiosity about the conditions or factors at play, allows us to move past the block rather than be stopped in our tracks. Curiosity allows us to get back on the wagon rather than sitting dejected on the roadside.

We tried two curious questions: 1) what's getting in the way here? 2) what would it take to move on this next week?

There were two things getting in my way: the long path between my actions now, and actually making a difference to people. And secondly, a bit of overwhelm about the tech involved in getting the online course ready.

I identified some actions to address these things and I'm now feeling keen again. I'm back on the wagon. Falling off isn't a problem. What matters is our response when we hit the ground. Criticism rarely helps. Nor does wallowing in disappointment.

Curiosity turns difficulty into learning, and learning into wisdom. It's one of the most liberating attitudes we can practice in personal growth. Try it. Next time you fall off your own wagon with any commitment, get curious. See if you can name the internal and external conditions that are producing that moment of disappointment, then ask yourself "what would it take to move?"

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