My family and I just got back from our first really big trip since our son was born six years ago. We had a ton of fun and it was a great experience for us all. While we were gone I intentionally let a few things drop such as my diet, exercise, reading, and podcasts. For my everyday life letting all of those things drop is a big failure.
Letting go is OK
Let me lead by saying letting things go is OK. None of us can be on plan 100% of the time especially if any of the things you are doing require your willpower to get done. Check out Willpower Doesn’t Work for more information on why using willpower to change your life isn’t a good idea.
Plan, plan, plan
Having a plan for how far off of the rails you are going to go can help limit the damage you do. For example, planning to have one unrestricted meal a day lets you have some freedom while on vacation while limiting your downside versus what it would be if you just went off the rails completely. The key for me in the future will be finding the right balance between my normal routine and not affecting the enjoyment of the trip.
I haven’t tried this yet, but I have read going to the point of visualizing the challenges you might face and how you will respond to them can be a very powerful way of making sure you stick with your plan. Then instead of having to make choices at the moment, you can fall back to going with what you visualized.
This all comes down to not having to make a judgment call at the moment you face the situation. When making calls at the moment we tend to choose the option with the most immediate reward, not the one that is the best long-term.
Back to reality
When everything is over getting back into your normal routine can be hard. If you planned fully then this transition is planned and you just have to execute. Again taking the decision away from the moment.
For our trip, the transition didn’t go as planned. We had numerous delays in flights, unforeseen things to take care of after getting home. We have been back for close to a week now and I still haven’t gotten back on track with all of my activities.
You can’t plan for everything, but that doesn’t mean you don’t plan. When faced with unforeseen events you have to make the best choice you can at the moment and move on. As soon as you have the chance to reevaluate where you are and then adjust course.
The key point is we are all going to fail and that is OK, but we want to limit the downside of our failures as much as we can. Evaluate and adjust. Don’t beat yourself up over failing. Learn.
Also published on Medium.