How to get your groove back

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Sweat poured down my face as I leaned back with my hands over my head into a backward bend. I listened to the yoga teacher’s instructions.

“Hold it, way back, fall back, more back, push back…”

My whole body was shaking, and I felt a mix of exhaustion and rage. When we finally came back to standing position and I looked in the mirror, I could see my entire face red from a combination of intense exercise, a hot room and a serious lack of exercise for the last six months.

I also saw love handles spilling over my yoga pants, and my “I had two kids” tummy poking out.

The rage mounted. How had I gotten so far out of shape? Why didn’t I take more time to exercise while writing my book? Why had I insisted that I needed afternoon chocolate to make it through tough deadlines?

What I wanted, right there in that hot yoga room, was to wiggle my nose, I Dream of Jeanie style and to see the abs that I used to have at age 25. I wanted to be that lean, mean, fighting machine that I once was.

For many years, when I studied the Afro-Brazilian art of capoeira, I would train in class with mirrors and see rock-hard abs and biceps staring back at me. I took my superior fitness for granted, thinking that I would always be training martial arts at least 15 hours a week.

But life intervened. And kids. And more intense work. And my 40s. And I found, as have many of you, I imagine, that great fitness was no longer a given. It was something that would take a ton of hard work.

When I did get back to exercising after a long hiatus, my bar was set at immediately feeling like, and looking like, the person I used to be.

No wonder I was full of rage.

Getting Your Groove Back

Reaching a certain level of personal or business success takes a lot of focus, grit and hard work.

But now I believe that getting back to success once you have lost it is even harder. And here is why:

  • If you used to have a heavy position, big salary and corner office and get laid off, you will judge your career prospects by how great things used to be.
  • If your first book was a best-seller and your second one flopped, you will be wistful about the “good old days” and resentful of the failure of your second book.
  • If you used to run a thriving business on the side of your day job, but now you have kids and find you cannot get anything done, you will long for the old, productive days.
  • If you used to be the Big Person on Campus who everyone wanted to date, but now that you are divorced, you can’t get anyone to look at you sideways, you will yearn for your younger, suaver, sexier self.

This sure doesn’t make you feel very empowered, does it? Not to mention that it is totally and completely demoralizing to judge current success (or lack thereof) on past success.

So How to You Break the Pattern?

  1. Focus on the person you are now, and set your goals accordingly.Assess the resources, time and energy you have available to you today. What are clear, realistic goals you can set for yourself that will be challenging without being overwhelming? What are the strengths you have gained in your years of experience that you can use in new and interesting ways?

    What would a healthy, active, rested, 47-year old engaged mother look like? Probably not the same as a 25-year old with few responsibilities besides working out.

  2. Retrace the pattern of how you got successful in the first place.

    When I had rock-hard abs and glutes so strong they could crush walnuts, I trained at least 10 classes a week. I did thousands of sit ups and push ups per week. So if I want to get in shape again, I know that I need to carve out serious time to train. I work best in group classes with a team spirit, so I will likely never get back in shape if I rely on getting myself to the gym for a solitary workout (which is why I am going to start taking Brazilian Jiujitsu classes, in addition to yoga).If you were extremely successful early in your career and find yourself looking for a job now, remember the qualities that made you great. Were you a hard worker? A problem solver? Did you have a great boss who brought out your best qualities, or stellar peers?

    Lean on the creative practices and patterns that created your success in the past. They will help shape your future success.

  3. Focus on the body of work you want to create, and whom you care about serving.

    What great things do you want to bring into the world? Whom do you really want to help?Your career success is directly linked to how well you can serve the needs of others.

    You are more likely to get a great job, or great new clients, if you put your energy into finding out the very specific concerns of potential employers or customers. Don’t worry about how great things used to be, focus on the people you can help and problems you can solve today.

As 64-year old swimmer Diana Nyad showed us this weekend, we have endless capacity to come back from disappointment and accomplish amazing things.

The only thing holding you back from future success is your unwillingness to let go of past failures.

Let them go. We are waiting for your great work.

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11 Responses to “How to get your groove back”

  1. […] with: How to get your groove back (getting success once you’ve lost it) and How to make sure your values align with your […]

  2. Anwell Steve says:

    I agree that success takes a lot of focus and hard work. Other than that, you also have to be physically fit that will help you have a positive mindset to reach your goals. All of us will face failure in a certain part of our life, but it’s just part of the challenge that will mold us to a better human being.

  3. Camii Soul says:

    Breaking the pattern a great place to start, instead of reminding yourself what you had, you recondition your thoughts. Live changes nothing stay the same, in knowing this and accepting it one can only now sit down and figure out ok what do I now need to do different. Breaking the pattern as you noted

  4. Julie says:

    This post didn’t just speak to me; it screamed at me; it reached out through my screen and bopped me on the nose.

    Love it. Thanks!

  5. I love this line: “What would a healthy, active, rested, 47-year old engaged mother look like? Probably not the same as a 25-year old with few responsibilities besides working out.” That’s what I was doing wrong! I thought “I’m only comparing myself to myself!” But I now have kids and sick parents! A little different than when I was free to go out dancing every night. 🙂

    Count on you for the kindness and the strength to persevere.

  6. George says:

    In any self-employment gig there are plenty of disappointments. I used to let them get to me and then one day I read a simple quote from Buddha – paraphrased here – “One of the most important things that really matter in life is how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”

    Being reminded of that helped get my groove back, so to speak. Just keep moving forward and let all those disappointments go to the trash bin…

  7. Raul says:

    This morning I looked at the mirror and saw I lost a few pounds and finally for the first time in my life my abs might show up. Reading this made me think that I should be happy that even-though my abs might appear I am living a better life than I was before. I have a balance of some exercise, being a dad, trying to run a small business, and writing about things that I find interesting.

    On another note our fridge broke down about a week and a half ago. This has helped me from eating lots of vegan treats that my tummy enjoys and grows on. Looking at this post made me realize also that there are many factors to our end goals. We need to look at what is going to get us there and sometimes we forget about what is keeping us from our goals. All those snacks while creating a new business where keeping me away from how I want to look. I learned that I don’t need to run more or exercise more I need to count my calories a good metric that will get me to my goal.

    By the way your awesome Pamela!

  8. faisal says:

    You always judge things when they were at the peak..

  9. Daryl says:

    Failures are just learning opportunities. And boy, have I learned a lot so far 🙂

    But as an wise old sales colleague once told me, “Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.” All the best…