No one likes to feel stuck or off track, or worse, like you’re failing at reaching a goal. We’ve all been there, and I’m pretty sure you can conjure up the feeling. When it comes to emotional eating or overeating, feeling stuck or off track is part of the ongoing cycle of yoyo weight loss or weight gain.
At the point that you feel stuck or off track, you choose a direction.
You can move toward being more stuck or off track (“Oh what does it matter, I might as well just finish the brownies since I blew it all at lunch”; “This is hopeless, I can’t get motivated to stick with anything for more than a day”).
Or, you can move out of stuckness and toward that path that you want to be on.
It’s not complicated, but it may be a different process than the one you’re used to.
3 little things to do when you feel stuck or off track
1. Take a breath and recognize that perfectionism or big thinking is interfering here.
Wait. What? How can you be a perfectionist when you are off track or stuck, you ask? Easily. Perfectionism is another label for all or nothing thinking.The rule is that it has to be perfect or it’s nothing. You either succeed or you fail. If you make a misstep (or ten), everything is ruined. Perfectionism (all or nothing thinking) contributes to that feeling that “getting back on track” is going to be a huge, miserable process. It causes you to create plans for “starting over” that feel overwhelming, and that are too much to stick with.
Which brings me to big thinking. Being able to think and dream big can be a great strength, and, when you’re trying to solve a problem or make a change, it can contribute to that feeling of overwhelm. Ever feel defeated before you start – like what you have to do or change or accomplish, is so massive that it’s exhausting to even approach it? This is a sign of problematic big thinking. Combine big thinking and perfectionism, and it’s quite easy to spend a lot of time feeling stuck or off track (and all the uncomfortable feelings that go with this – not to mention the emotional eating that often comes along for the ride).
Truth: You don’t have to get “everything” perfect, and you don’t have to tackle “everything” at once. You move toward your goal one step at a time. To be unstuck and on track, all you have to do is start taking simple steps.
2. Commit to a simple step you can accomplish immediately, and 1 – 2 more that you will take action on in the next few hours
We’re talking, small, actionable steps that are positive. All you need to do is take some steps that get you on a track that feels positive and get you moving in the right direction. Choose do-able over elaborate. Your first simple step should be something you can do immediately – go fill your water glass, throw out the crappy cookies you don’t even like, take a vitamin, go for a walk, put on happy music and dance in your kitchen, write in your journal for ten minutes.
Take one step. Then plan your next few steps forward – steps you will take in the next few hours. These next actions need to be equally do-able, and move you in the right direction (do some deep breathing, eat a salad with protein for my next meal, make my fitness tracker step goal for the day,or go to bed by 10:00).
Your goal is to rack up a stack of wins – positive steps that feel aligned with what you want to be accomplishing. If you feel any dread about taking a step, either make it smaller, or choose another one. You want to take these steps as quickly as possible, because as soon as you take the steps, you are (ta da! – on track!).
Truth: Getting unstuck only requires taking your next step. Just that quickly you are moving yourself from someone who sees herself as stuck, to someone who is taking action. Pro tip: if you find a set of three steps that work for you, use these as your reset plan whenever you feel the need to get more in sync with your goals.
3. Now that you are no longer stuck or off track, use a simple habit to continue to create results
The perfectionist approach is to create a plan and decide to follow it “forever,” one hundred percent of the time. The big thinking approach often errs on the side of creating a plan that’s so big or so complicated, that it isn’t realistic and leads to burnout or exhaustion.
Staying on track and in action is really a matter of continuing to take steps. Sometimes the steps will feel big and super effective, sometimes they will be small, and sometimes they will feel like they barely move you forward, but they keep you on (or get you back to) your path.
Truth: Staying on track and unstuck requires a simple, consistent ritual of noticing how you are doing and feeling, what your life is like today, and what kind of steps you want and need to take. This ritual, which can take as little as ten minutes, allows you to be aware of perfectionism and big thinking (before it freezes you in your tracks or knocks you off course).
Taking this time allows you to formulate your next steps, and identify any challenges, or planning that needs to happen (“Must buy salad greens!” or “Need a Plan B because my meeting conflicts with my gym time”).
Without consistent “me-time” like this, it’s almost impossible to stay fully aware of feelings that might trigger emotional eating, stress that might be mounting, or even hunger levels or upcoming challenges to all your good intentions.
My favorite way to organize these three simple steps and make them happen
One of my favorite tools for noticing what’s going on in my life (and patterns that I want to change), catching my thinking when it’s not serving me (hello inner perfectionist!), and making plans for moving forward is my journal.
There are tons of ways to approach journaling. I challenge you to try using a journal as a tool for getting unstuck and for staying on track. Set aside a regular time (as little as ten minutes) to write. Identify your do-able priorities for the day and any challenges to moving forward. Ask yourself how you are feeling and what you know about what you need today to be successful or to support yourself in ways that don’t involve overeating. Ask yourself (and write about) any perfectionistic or big thinking that might be showing up and interfering with taking simple, do-able steps.
Simple, do-able steps are how you get on track and that’s how you move forward. Nothing you’ve already done will prevent you from taking your next simple step now. I dare you. What will it be?