Four years ago I wrote a post “Getting Back On Track” and I have used it frequently enough to warrant a slight revision that I offer here for your consideration.
Everyone I know has had some kind of event that has thrown us off track, hopefully temporarily. It’s not easy to resume, like pushing the button on speed control. There are many reasons why it’s difficult to regroup our energy, purpose and drive to continue. We can feel emotionally and physically drained, fuel tank on empty and no immediate relief in view. That is certainly true given the past 6 months. Half a year of being upset one way or another due to Covid 19 and whatever else might be going on during this time that might, under other circumstances, be called “normal.”
Our “normal” although also difficult to accept, include upsetting life events that range from the death of a loved one, a serious illness of a family member or ones self, and less major occurrences that can include being disabled, laid low for awhile with a health issue and even something like losing a job or being rejected while trying to get an application or a manuscript accepted or just changing jobs from one track to another.
A number of people who seem to lose a sense of purpose and the desire to continue have a hard time convincing themselves that the effort and energy required would be worthwhile and that it would be easier to just give up, give in and throw in the towel. The truth is that it would be easier. The encouragement and support of friends and family are well-intended, maybe even helpful sometimes, but they either don’t understand or if they do, their answers are what they would do, and those may or may not work for you.
We may well need to step back and “recalibrate,” a term I learned from an Intel employee who used the term when she meant that we needed to have another look and see if our assessments were accurate and on track. Her experience from another industry helped us on numerous occasions to take another, different approach. It fits the “on track” metaphor because trains run on tracks that are definitely calibrated and recalibrated frequently. In the U.S. most tracks are exactly 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in or 1,435 mm. When I worked on the railroad, we spent a lot of time lining tracks and making sure they were the exact, correct width. Now machines do that job.
So, what can we do to get back on track besides realigning the road ahead?
- Take time and don’t rush it. Step back and evaluate your choices.
- Make sure we are doing what we can for ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, meeting those needs for good health.
- Talk to someone who might understand and appreciate our challenges and perceived obstacles.
- Start with building a simple step-by-step plan and adjust it as needed. Take baby steps. It’s the way to move forward.
- Engage and connect. We are social beings and isolation sometimes delays getting back on track. However, there is also value in spending some time alone gathering our resources.
- Rediscover a new purpose or explore something entirely different. Consider giving some time as a volunteer.
- Realize that each day is a gift and what we make of it is up to us.
- Check in on our “attitude of gratitude” and how we might appreciate what we have in a different way.
- Read, listen, watch and pay attention. There are clues out there.
- Be KIND to ourselves.
There is no magic formula or recipe that works for everyone. Each of us has our own unique personality and figuring out what is going to work best for us is a process, not flip the switch and instantly be on a different track. And remember, let’s breathe deeply, frequently and consciously while we consider the road ahead. When we were realigning tracks on the railroad, we took scheduled breaks and checked in with each other to see how we were doing. Yes! That works now too!