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How to Get Back (and Keep Getting Back) on The Horse

dream of horses and birds
Holy shit it’s February already.

I swear that someone’s spinning the Earth faster because it only seems like a few days ago that I was playing with my nephew’s Christmas toys and eating my own body weight in cheese.

Time certainly does move on, so if you’re confronted with the fact that time is leaping ahead and you haven’t really stuck to your plans, this one’s for you.

Whether you’ve lost steam and slipped back into old ways, lost sight of the good intentions you had on January 1st or tripped, fallen or plummeted, here’s how you can get back on the horse and make sure you stay on.

Stop the flagellation

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that every client I work with enjoys a little metaphorical self-flagellation. More, harder they tell me as they beat themselves up for not being better than they are.

But it’s human nature to get side-tracked

Just sit down for 10 minutes, close your eyes and train your attention on your breath for that full 10 minutes. Drop in to the whole breath, the breathing in, the little pause, the breathing out. Then do the same for the next breath. And the next. And the next. I’ll bet you a speedboat that at some point your mind will wander away from your breath and think about something else. Because that’s what minds do.

You might not be happy that you haven’t stuck to your plans or lost steam, but it’s really okay.

Don’t turn the side-tracking into another problem to beat yourself up about.

Accept it, then make a fresh choice.

Reboot the environment

If you want to give up cheetos, you’d better make sure your cupboards aren’t stuffed to the brim with bags of the cheesy little bastards.

If you want to start getting better sleep, you’d better remove the rocks from your mattress or fix that leaking tap that keeps you awake all night.

And if you don’t want to feel like garbage, you might want to create some distance between you and that asshole “friend” of yours who keeps belittling you.

See, your environment either adds to your ability to play a great game, or it takes away from it.

Try playing tennis wearing a gimp hood or
try playing Twister underwater and see if I’m not telling the truth

So take a look at all the stuff around you, get rid of the things that drain or frustrate you and add things that support and energise you.

Touch yourself

I ask all my clients to touch themselves.

Not in a sexy, “do you like this, baby, do you” sort of way, but in a way that has them get in touch with what they already have.

Let me ask you something. What are your strengths and talents?

Straight from the age of Personal Development 1.0, not only is it a question duller than a Chris Martin waxwork, but it’s also pretty much useless.

You do have strengths and talents (you have other stuff too: experience, values, choices and all sorts of other gems) and it’s important that you connect with them, but there are better ways to get in touch with yourself that I use with clients.

  • Look at the successes in your life and see what you did that helped nail it.
  • Look at when you’ve been on top of your game and see what allowed that to happen.
  • Look at what you’re most proud of and dig into what it is that matters most to you.
  • Look at what you’ve always been able to do brilliantly without really thinking, and see what talents you have in your bones.
  • Look at how you reacted in the bad times and see what you honoured or what you expressed.

These are a handful of questions that can provide real insights and get you touching yourself in ways that’ll really make you glow.

Give a shit

An easy life is one where you don’t give a shit about anything, because then it doesn’t matter where you end up, what you do or even who you become.

It’s all just grey and sludgy, and about as much fun as
a clown with a pocket full of turds

But you do care about stuff. You do give a shit. It’s just that life sometimes gets in the way, or that you’re so low on gas that it feels like you don’t have enough va-va-voom to give a shit.

One of the things I love most about my work is how clients react to the things they care about. One client told me that she felt “like the sun had come out“, simply because she’d got to a place where she no longer hid from the things she really gave a damn about.

Care about things. Care about yourself. Take a stand in your life. Give a shit.

Step freshly

Routine is a powerful force, like gravity or magnetism. It pulls you towards it, with promise of certainty and comfort.

But it also leads you to constrain what you do, limit your choices and diminish your impact.

So in getting back on the horse, it might not be a great strategy to repeat exactly the same steps you took last time around. Because you kinda know how that goes, right?

I know how hard it is to think of a new, fresh way forwards when you’re lying on your back with the horse you were on having trotted off to fuck knows where.

How the hell can you do something differently
when you don’t know what that different thing is?

Sometimes you might want to plan, strategise or bounce things around with someone else. That’s all good, just as long as you don’t replace taking action with planning or finding the “right” answer.

But ultimately, it comes down to doing something.

It could be something completely unrelated to what you were aiming for before, maybe something frivolous, fun or a flight of fancy (one client went from working on their freelance writing career to travelling South America, and found her mojo as a result). Your next step might be a crazy leap of faith, or it might be a gentle experiment to see what happens. Or maybe it’s simply doing the opposite of what that screaming voice of fear is telling you (like the client who booked a dozen speaking gigs in university campuses despite crapping his pants at the thought of speaking in public).

Whatever it is, please just have the balls the step freshly.

A helping hand…?

These strategies are really just the tip of a whopping great big iceberg, and in many ways my whole job is about helping people get back on the horse and keep getting back on.

Yeah it’s tough.

But the ability to know the light bits and dark bits of yourself, to bring what matters to you to life and to keep on going when it’s easier not to is also beautiful, joyful and pretty fucking extraordinary.

It’s what all this coaching and digging since 2002 has been about, and it’s what the Code of Extraordinary Change Playbook does.

And because I want good things for you, and to spread some love, the Playbook is 50% off for the whole of February.

It doesn’t just show you how to get back on the horse and be fine when you fall off, it shows you how to be your own damn horse.

Check it out.

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