Getting back “on the horse or wagon”…

by Leo on March 14, 2012

Yesterday, I let my readers know about a comment on my “GratitudeYear” blog from “Ruby”…

Ah, Leo – I slipped. Fell off the wagon as it were.

I am trying to ‘catch up’, but have recognised a
sad truth about myself: if I can’t get back up to
where I ‘should be’ instantly, it seems I’d rather
let the whole project slide.

What a sad thing!

I think this probably applies to many (most)
people in many (most) areas – finance, career
goals, diet, property maintenance, you name it…
When things go wrong, rather than just starting
again, we feel we have to make up all the lost

So, for me, I am trying to readjust that thinking
and to just start up again – but it truly is a struggle
with my natural self!!

I assured Ruby she was far from alone and asked my readers
for suggestions.

Many readers wrote in with some terrific suggestions.

Here are some:

For Ruby,

“Simply start where you are. It doesn’t matter where that is. Don’t beat yourself up. Just start.”

“We should all reserve the right to get smarter.”


Let’s start with a driving example. Safety devices such as stoplights and stop signs are “built into” any city driving experience. They are not “exceptions” to the driving experience, they are part of it. It is unusual when I can reach my destination without having to stop as indicated by one of these devices and wait until I can proceed.

I suggest that Ruby is treating her project as though no stoplights or stop signs will exist within the duration of the project. Her expectation is that full recovery from a stoplight or stop sign event is possible, which is seldom the case. A project that is scheduled without contingency planning is going to be late, whatever the cause.

Now let’s look at the guilt trip, the ability to forgive yourself. Ruby is clearly taking the blame for the event, which is healthy. At least it’s much healthier than denial, excuses, alibis and other attempts to shift the blame elsewhere.

I recently made an avoidable mistake and someone who was affected wanted to know “why” it happened. Since the only person who could have prevented the situation was me, there was no one to shift the blame to! Here’s what I did:

– I told the affected person that it was my error, my mistake without going into any detail. Just take responsibility as simply as possible. Any drama or explanation is not helpful. I did not characterize the situation as avoidable to this person. Just the facts of what happened.

– I spoke to my manager with full disclosure; my avoidable mistake, here’s what I should have done, here’s what I will do in the future. Thus, he is fully informed if he is asked.

– I worked with others to correct the mistake as soon as practical. At this point, the objective is to provide relief in a well-considered way. This is broken, when can the repair be completed?

Let’s look at the outcome:

– Best effort was made to correct the issue as efficiently as possible.
– Those affected were informed regarding how to recognize symptoms until the repair could be implemented, reducing surprises.
– The person seeking to assign blame eventually realized that the issue would not be resolved as quickly as he expected once the fault was admitted and the repair process was explained. It was as good as it was going to get.

The bottom line for Ruby and others goes like this:

Do you want a “quick” fix or the “right” fix in a problem situation? The quick fix, in my experience, puts me at risk of having to “fix it again”. Time pressure has a way of “skipping steps” to “save time”. It’s a false economy. Spending the time to carefully examine the problem and making the best correction possible is the right thing to do.

What impression does “doing the right thing” produce?

– I am a responsible person who takes the blame without trying to shift it.
– I want to fix it right the first time by involving others who need to know or will need to assist.
– I avoid appearing desperate by trying to proceed with a poorly-considered approach.
– I receive credit for solving the problem, even when it was my mistake.
– Good communication is rewarded even though the consequences still occurred.


Don’t create a wagon in the first place. Just have a general direction and give yourself credit for going in the right direction. We are humans not angels. Usually we have some event, person or quote that always gives us heart.

Be sure to have that bit of clarity and light on hand when the clouds roll in. Also try to be amused by your antics. It really IS funny the way we play hide-and-seek with our better selves! – Abbie


Ruby must begin to realize that it took some time for her to be where she is, and it is going to take ‘some time’ to reboot and return to ‘normalcy.’ I have found that as you continue to use all of the positive and inspiring thoughts, stories, messages and books, YOU have to be at a point (at least for me), where there is a brain switch that says …..’ENOUGH.’ I refuse to do this anymore.

You then begin to pick up the pieces one at a time and be consistent with it. There has to be a motivating factor that stays predominantly in the active psyche, and is triggered whenever you begin to, or think of falling short.

Affirmations are a great support and remembering how it felt while you were experiencing the ‘bottom of the barrel,’ and never wanting to ‘GO THERE AGAIN.”

My ‘two cents!


Because I’m in events it happens so often!

1. I try not to panic – because you can’t think.

2. Jump to plan B,

3. If fails Plan C

4. If all fails blow the horn ask everyone possible to help.


Answers for starting up again…

-It won’t be this way forever.
-The worse could happen; the best could happen. Life is usually somewhere in between.
-Soften and be merciful.
-The only real control I have is the choice of my own thoughts, my own words, and my own actions.
-And then what would happen?
-I choose the life that I have right now.
-Is the problem the situation, or is it my reaction to the situation?
-Will this be important in a year? Five years?
-I can serve myself without feeling guilty.
-I live in balance.

These thoughts are from the book “Living Your Yoga, Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life” by Judith Lasater, Ph.D., P.T. It is a book I picked up at the thrift store today.

Thank you Leo.


I treat each hour of work on a project as “another brick in the wall”. The project isn’t finished until it can be fully retired, and put on a shelf. If I miss a day or a week or a month, I pick back up where I was and add another brick to the wall – clearing any debris that accumulated during my hiatus as I go. Like my yoga classes I started in 2004: Sometimes I go 5x a week, sometimes I don’t go for 2 or 3 weeks, sometimes I go once or twice a week. I’m still a great “work in progress” at 65! Sometimes consistency is important, sometimes it’s over-rated. 😉

Moral – build the wall one brick at a time. 4 walls make a room. A couple of rooms make a house. Cottage or Castle, your call.

(Yoga lesson: Breathe in. Breathe out. Don’t stop. Here ends the lesson.)

It took me years and I have by no means perfected it, but I learned through spiritual direction that whatever habit I am working on, when I “fall off the wagon” I try an oops and go to where I left off. I just try to be gentle with myself. It is not perfect but it is a far cry from the earlier feeling of “if I can’t do it perfectly it isn’t worth doing.” At least I am moving in the right direction. I think it is important to give oneself credit for that.

Hope this was helpful,


Take baby steps so one doesn’t get overwhelmed. A great book, which you might have recommended is One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way/Method.

Ruby never giveup. Pick YOURSELF UP, Dust YOURSELF OFF and keep on going! If anyone had a reason to quit, I did, the washer and furnace went out within two weeks of joining Leo’s program. I’m making it, it was just a temporary setback. AND there will be temporary set backs, it happens to all of us. You will never reach your goal if you give up,

I am not going to reach my first pay off date, but the goal is to reach the end of those payments. You can do it and I will too, we will fight to the end. The slip backwards comes when we “need’ and don’t have cash, out pops the credit card. I opened a free checking account, that is my “credit card”. I make payments to it each payday so that I can built it up and use my “debit/credit ” card instead of the costly credit card the banks want us to use. If necessary when the time comes, I can use it to pay off the final payment on the next account and pay myself the interest saved….

I hope knowing you are not alone helps.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ruby March 15, 2012 at 6:15 am

As the Ruby who wrote the original comment, I’d like to say thanks very much, to Leo for taking my comment and looking for ways we can all address the Slumps. Thanks also to everyone who took the time to write with tips and suggestions. My own suggestion is simple; get up, dust off, keep going. I do find it harder to do than say, though!
I can be a bit of a fantasist – I would rather be ‘ideal’ by nature rather than effort and hard work.
Thanks again for the advice and encouragement. I’m going to print it out and read it regularly. Maybe I ought to stick it on the treadmill! 😉

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