It’s easy to talk about motivation, staying strong, staying inspired, working hard, pushing yourself, making adjustments, sticking to a plan, setting goals, and giving it your all. But it’s hard to admit defeat. It’s hard to tell the world that you’re struggling, and that it’s harder than you expected. If you do, chances are you will feel ashamed, especially after being so positive about recent progress. Nobody wants to admit to the world that they failed at anything, especially in a world where success gets the spotlight and failure is checked at the door. But this is part of the journey too, the time when life wakes you up and says “So you are going to keep doing this? Okay let’s make it harder.” Like an elastic band, the harder you pull it, the stronger it will snap back. This… is the pushback.
If there is one thing that helps you get started on something new, it’s beginner’s luck. It’s that feeling like you have no choice but to succeed after only one day, because everything went your way. You feel like it will be easy to win, and wonder why you didn’t start sooner. But what is inevitable is the reality that change is difficult, and the things we want are hard to obtain. Whether it hits you at week 2 or week 25, it will come, and it can be a major wake-up call.
Usually around week 2 or 3 of a new goal or lifestyle, there’s that sinking feeling that it’s real. It’s not just a resolution you made during a big event or life transition. It’s becoming who you are, shedding part of who you used to be. I feel like most people can get over this hump, through pure motivation and expecting it to come. It requires all of the things I have talked about in the past: Making reasonable sustainable changes, being in it for the long haul, not overdoing it, not letting setbacks overcome your willpower.
But there are always bigger pushbacks on the horizon, and appearing to come out of nowhere, they hit much harder than the sinking reality of week 2.
I certainly felt it this weekend. After 6 weeks of effort and success I felt a hard push back. I saw an image of my old self in my old life, and how easy it would be to go back to that lovely little path of least resistance. I have seen progress toward my ultimate goal…. isn’t that enough? I’m better than when I started, so why not accept it and go back to the life I was happy with? The one that was easier and comfortable. After all, my goal was just a dream. It was never possible to succeed, right?
But when I looked back at the comfortable life I had, I didn’t see happiness in that comfort. I didn’t see passion in ease, nor did I see success in routine. I saw the same frustration I had before, and in my eyes I saw the fire that drove me to make the new goal in the first place. I saw the same drive to be better than I was, a drive I had forgotten. I saw a future where I achieved my goal, and could use the achievement to spur other more ambitious goals and achieve those too.
I realized that I liked the hardships, I liked the challenge. I enjoyed fighting those little battles with myself every day, and winning most days. I wanted to look back at this time in my life as the time when I broke the mold and pushed past my limits to become a better me.
We can use the pushback to remind us of why we will fail, or we can use it to remind us why we have to succeed, and why failure isn’t an option. That feeling of wanting to give up won’t stop coming back. Those memories of a more comfortable past won’t be forgotten. Even years down the road you’ll still feel the pushback from time to time.
The difference is that you’ll have a lot more progress to look at as a reason to keep going. You’ll be better at dealing with that desire to quit and go back to an easier life. You’ll be experienced enough to know that the pushback is as much a part of the process as setting the goal in the first place. And then…