How to handle the backslide

Old Habits New Habits

Agrhhh! I messed it all up. It was September 21st, and I went to sleep without checking to make sure I hit my 10,000 steps.  When I looked at my watch at 12:07, it was too late. That night I dreamt about my 10,000 steps. When I woke up and checked the app, my heart sank. I was short by 365 steps. I felt crushed. Four measly minutes of walking and I would have made my goal. I was so discouraged. I lost a 269-day streak started back in December of 2022.


I was so mad at myself.


Once you lose the momentum, fall off the wagon so to speak, it is hard to remotivate. I lamented to my husband and walking buddy and they both said it was a rounding error and on average I more than hit my steps. They were right and it helped me get right back to it the next day.


The hardest thing for a coach at the end of an engagement is knowing that the backslide is coming. I learned this term while listening to Becoming Coachable. The backslide is the inevitable reversion to old habits, or at least a reduction in the improvements that you have made through coaching. But just because we all know the backslide is coming, doesn’t mean the progress can’t be maintained and sustained.


Want to minimize the backslide and move those new skills you learned into permanent habits? Implement any or all the following ideas:

  1. Enlist accountability partners. Find someone who is also working on a goal and support each other in the process. Having that cheerleader and buddy coach will help keep you on track.
  2. Continue to broadcast what you’re working on. When you share it, you reinforce your commitment to action. It enrolls more people in the process and creates accountability.
  3. Continue to seek ongoing feedback. New ideas will keep you engaged in the process and remind people that you are a work in progress, progress being the operative word.
  4. Use daily action checklist. By clearly articulating your action plan and evaluating your performance every day, you increase awareness of success and challenges. This habit helps overcome roadblocks and maintain momentum as well as identifying where you may need to seek additional support.


That night in late in September when I forgot to look at my watch before I went to bed still haunts me. Yet, I got up and did my 10,000 steps the very next day and haven’t missed it again since. When we backslide, we lose motivation. The backslide is inevitable. It’s what you do next that matters more. Don’t be discouraged.

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