Falling off the Wagon, Getting Back On

As I write on this blog about all of the things I’m doing to create a more purpose-filled life, I worry that sometimes I give a false impression. While it’s true that I do things like adjust my schedule to make the day flow more smoothly, make time to meditate regularly, and stay on top of my finances, it’s also true that sometimes I don’t. What I mean is, like everyone else, I am not perfect and sometimes I fall off the wagon. Sometimes I realize at midnight that I forgot to shower that evening. Sometimes I realize that it’s been three days since I meditated. Sometimes I realize that my efforts at keeping the house clean have totally fallen by the wayside.

When you fall off the wagon, you have two choices:

  1. You can give up.
  2. You can get back on.

falling off the wagon

When you get off track, it’s up to you to decide whether to get back on.

Sometimes, when you fall off the wagon, it’s a sign that something isn’t working for you. If your life is already full to overflowing, for instance, you’re probably not going to be particularly successful if you try to add a new 90 minute workout regimen to your daily routine. That’s too much change, all at once. If you can’t keep it up, it’s a signal that maybe you need to start more slowly, or let something else go before you add a big new commitment in. Or maybe there’s something you committed to some time ago, and it no longer works for you. In any case, if it’s not working for you, there’s no sense in beating yourself up over it.

Other times, when you fall off the wagon, it’s just life getting in the way temporarily. Either you forget, or your child gets sick and you have to drop a lot of stuff, or you’re just really excited about the new episode of your favourite TV show and you don’t make time for the other stuff on your list. If this is the case – and you really do want to get back on the wagon – then do it. Once again, there’s no sense in beating yourself up, though. That will only make you less likely to stick with something. Instead, forgive yourself, understand that no one is perfect, and move on.

When we say we’re going to do something every single day, or when we take on a big, new change, it’s normal to fall off the wagon from time to time. When you know that, and you can give yourself the room to be an imperfect but worthy human being, you’re more likely to stick with it in the long run. This is because when you take your perceived shortcomings very personally, you’re creating a negative association. Instead of viewing exercise or meditation or what-have-you as something nice that you’re doing for yourself, you’re viewing it as an obligation that you haven’t fulfilled. When you think about it, you’re thinking of how you’ve failed, not the good things it does for you.

As I wrote at the outset, I’m not perfect. You probably aren’t, either. No one is. The good news is you don’t have to be. You only have to decide, in any particular moment, what the best course of action is. Whether it serves you better to let something go, or get back on the wagon. And then, once you have your answer, give yourself the space to do it, without self-recrimination. In the process, you’ll be spending your energy creating a better life for yourself, rather than spending your energy feeling bad for failing. We each only have so much energy, so use yours wisely.

A New Direction

As of January 1, 2013, Crafting my Life is closed. The blog will remain open, and I invite you to take the time to read through the archives and use them as a resource. If you find them helpful, or if you'd like to keep in touch with me, please take the time to visit me on my personal blog at Strocel.com. While I'm no longer creating online tools, I am still chronicling my personal journey as a life-crafter. I'd love it if you'd come along for the ride.


  1. Twitter: CBerbs
    Very timely for me. Thanks.
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