How to Get Back on Track When Life Goes Sideways

This is a re-share of an article that was last published in 2020.

Do you feel like everything has gone sideways and you’re struggling to get back on track? You are not alone.

2020 has been … interesting to say the least. I came into the year so excited to move forward with Momtography Club and our brand new way of working with women on their creative projects.

I was feeling great about the potential and impact this would have on myself and our community. It was a new year, a fresh start. I had a plan … and then it all went sideways.

I bet you also have a list of all the expectations, and plans, and dreams that were cancelled. All those unfortunate ways you have been thrown off course since the year started.

Let’s get back on track together, shall we?

5 Ways to Get Back on Track with Your Goals

In case you haven’t figured it out, life will go sideways again and again. You’ll get off track just as you were gaining momentum. You’ll be moving right along and something will happen. You’ll be struggling to gain traction and feel like everything is working against you. You’re not doing something wrong. This just happens. You can’t control what happens. You can be prepared (to an extent) and you can control how you deal with it.

Be kind to yourself.

First of all, don’t beat yourself up. We all get off track sometimes, usually for reasons out of our control. Acknowledge that things aren’t going the way you want, but don’t blame yourself. If you hear yourself saying, “I should have …” stop. Ask this instead: How do I deal with situation? What can I do differently next time? What can I learn from this experience?

Then take a break. Go for a walk or a run. Take a nap or a bath. Do whatever you do to chill out. Get your mind off of all the things that have gone wrong and all the things you need to do. When you do, you open up space for problem solving or at least approaching things with your thinking brain.

Problem solve creatively.

Sometimes we get stuck. We’re so overwhelmed we can’t even see our way out, but there is always a way to get back on track. Here’s what I love to do: Get curious. Wonder what would happen if you did X. Wonder if it’s possible to do Y. Like this: Could I write a book in 21 days? What would happen if I got childcare for one full day a week? Could I go away for a weekend and get this done?

If you hear yourself saying, “I can’t to X because …” or “I want to … but …” it’s time to get curious.

Take a fresh start and recommit.

It’s important to commit. I bet you started off this year super committed. I know I started off the year committed to my dreams and then life happened and I lost focus. But I know that doesn’t mean I’m done. It just means it’s time to recommit. I took a break. I looked at what I wanted to do again and refocused my energy—and I recommitted. And for those of you like me who get bored easily when things are going well or are too easy, that’s another time to recommit (and maybe get curious … how can I do this differently to stay on course and stay engaged?)

Schedule time for YOU.

Put your passion project on your calendar before other things—and then use that time for YOU. This is a big resistance point for a lot of women. We hear it. We may even know that we should. And we don’t.

If you’re saying, “But I already have appointments that were hard to schedule” or “What about my kids schedule?” Put that previously planned stuff in your calendar. Then before you schedule anything else, put in time for you and your projects. That might mean blocking off Saturday and saying no to plans with friends so you can go to the art studio or inking in your writer’s group and skipping the PTO meeting. If you do one thing and make this the year you put yourself and your dreams on the calendar first, you will change things dramatically.

Make a plan.

A dream is glorious. A goal is a destination. And without a plan, you’re not going to get there. A plan helps you break down that BIG thing you want to do into smaller parts and doable steps. You don’t sit down every day and say I’m going to write my book. You say, I’m outlining chapter 4 or I’m writing for 30 minutes about this topic or I’m revising this essay. Your plan helps you see all the pieces that need to get done—and when you will do each piece. This is where we often get off track. We have a great plan and then life knocks us off track. You still know what needs to be done, you just need to adjust your timeline.

Honestly, planning isn’t my strong suit, but I know that I move forward better with a plan, which brings me to the next tip—get support.

Connect and get support.

I know I’m not a great planner, so I’m working with a coach who is.  As part of that process, I’m also connected to an amazing group of women who support me in my business goals. I have running partners to help me with my running goals.

We often think of creative activities as solitary pursuits, but even in our creative lives we need connection, we need mentors, we need support. These supporters provide accountability. I learn from them. I share with them. And when it’s just a crappy day, I turn to them. Who do you have to turn to? How how will you say yes to YOU today?