Sometimes it is easy to get bogged down on a project.  You let it “sit,” so you can think about it awhile, and before you know it, three other things have come up that need your attention, and your “big idea” starts gathering dust.

At least, that is how it often works for me.

This blog is a great example, but there have been others.  It has been a challenge to post lately.  Tom died.  Christmas happened.  I got sick.  I got busy.  Life happened.  Writing took a back seat.   In addition to writing, half-marathon training programs, book ideas, and piano lessons are also residing in the back seat.  Now don’t get me wrong…my motto for life in general––I get knocked down…but I get up again––applies to projects as well as it does to my health.  Usually I come back.  Like now, for example.

So I thought a good article to write might be one about just this:  How do you pick up where you left off, before life got in the way?  I’ve come up with a 5-step “Get Up Again” action plan to use when approaching that stack that is growing on your desk.

:  This is the most important one.   Get off your back already!  Unless you live alone, have no friends, have no other responsibilities, have only one interest, and generally have no life, things come up!  Life happens, and you get knocked off course now and then.  For most people I know, this is when the nasty little nagging voice speaks up.  “You are such a loser…!  Why aren’t you working on this?  You had such grand plans…such great ideas…Right.  What a lazy (%&#*!

First off, this is a true waste of energy and time.  It is, of course, much more efficient to use that energy in getting back up on the horse, to mix metaphors.  Everyone gets pulled off course, now and then.

STEP TWO:  Find your motivation!  If you are spinning your wheels, you need to get a grip on something, right?  The traction is found within something called motivation.  What lights your fire?  As much as possible, you need to recreate the energy you had when you began the project.  That’s a tall order, I know.  If I had the secret to that, I would be a bazillionairre.

Why did you want to do this project in the first place???  There must have been a really good reason.  The trick is to remember it. And get back into it!  Read about it again.  Read about how others have done or are doing what you want to do.  Talk to people about your idea.  Enlist their ideas…their help.

STEP THREE:  Set one goal.  This is obvious, but it is so overlooked.  You need a finish line.  It doesn’t have to be far away, but it needs to be a bit of a stretch for you.  It needs to be time-based and measurable.  You also need to really want it!  You need to be excited.  It helps to read the goal several times a day, imagining the feeling you will have when it is accomplished.  I know what you are thinking..”One goal?  But I have at least twenty to get back to!”  This may be true, but just pick one for now.  Just a little bit of traction goes a long way.

The most important aspect of setting a goal (to me) is setting a reward.  Seriously.  You need a carrot AND a stick.  If you are like me, the stick is taken care of.  It’s that voice in your head yelling all of the time.  The carrot is, of course, the reward you pick to give yourself when you’ve crossed that finish line.  Make the reward appropriate to the effort you need to put in to accomplishing the goal.  If you’re going to train for three months to run a 5K, give yourself something worth three months of hard training!

So let’s say, for instance, you had initiated a great workout program.  You were committed.  You had worked out all the details…and then…poof.  What program?

There are two ways to deal with this.  The usual way (for many) is to tell yourself you “don’t have it in you” to stick to a program, and then give up until the next time something wakes up your motivation again.

The second (better) way, is to get off your own back, remember your motivation, set a new and smaller goal (perhaps to just start to walk for 20 minutes a day)…add a carrot…and take STEP FOUR.

STEP FOUR:  Take a small step…every day.  Small is the important element here, especially at first.  The reason for this is that you will build on small successes.  If you do what you set out to do every day, then even if those action items are small, your confidence in yourself grows bigger and bigger.  Soon, you’ll start challenging yourself with larger daily action items without feeling overwhelmed.

STEP FIVE:  Stick to it until you can celebrate your achievement!  Your motivation may wax and wane a bit (have you noticed this?).  That’s ok…that’s just what it does.  If you have a day where you feel completely unmotivated, then make your daily action be to read about your goal.  Google it.  Find success stories.  Get your mojo back!  Tomorrow is a new day, and likely, you will feel more like playing.