This past week was evil. It has been for years. For as long as I can remember, it has managed to break every habit I’ve ever managed to create for myself. For those of you who don’t know my every move (You don’t know what you aren’t missing), let me explain. For the past 11 years, I spend at least 9 straight days working the same trade show in Las Vegas1. Despite the regular garden variety of debauchery that comes along with Vegas, this week always manages to kill whatever diet, workout regimen or initiative I’ve managed to cultivate for myself. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s a fact. Each year this week manages to be a speed bump that I have never quite been able to drive over. That is, until now.
Just over a month ago, I decided that I wanted to start taking this blog seriously, to get over my inconsistency and write on a regular basis and to hit publish five days a week. As if this weren’t lofty enough, I decided to do this at the exact time that I started gearing up for the busiest work obligations of my year. Why would I do something so stupid? Because if I could get through this dip2, there is a small prayer that I just might keep this up. Well, I flew home yesterday and not a post was missed. For once in my life, I killed the week that always manages to kill me.
I’m a starter who struggles to finish things; I always have been. I finish a decent amount, but I leave carcasses along the way. It’s not fun to admit that, but it is something I am working hard to get better at. Ironically, one of my biggest struggles with crossing the finish line is the same thing that usually helps me cross it: structure. I’m getting better at finding and using the right systems, but when these fail, I tend to break down. No matter how structured I try to be, life will always manage to get in the way. These kinds of moments are not my strong suit, but they are a reality. And the best thing you can do with reality is to plan for it.
While I’m taking a bit of a personal victory lap here3, I really want to share some of the tactics used to get past a roadblock that has stifled me time and time again.
Start When It’s Hardest – I historically do what many do: wait until the new year and start something. It always seems like as good a time as any, but most of the things I start on January 1st get derailed by this very week. This time, I didn’t want to work up to my dip and hope to make it through. I needed to plow through and then keep going. Now, I have a full year until I have to climb this particular mountain again. I’m not suggesting that you wait until the hardest possible time to try something for the first time. I’m just suggesting that you really dig in at the worst time rather than waiting for the best. I think you’ll find yourself better prepared for whatever challenge is inevitably coming your way.
Plan Against Failure – I’ve always hated the phrase “Plan for success.” Despite the fact that it is a nauseating cliche I’ve never met anyone that has found it particularly useful. Success is often a far-off destination and there is rarely a roadmap. To me, it seems more natural to identify the places where I am going to screw up and work to avoid them. In the past, I would have tried to find the pockets, the downtime where I could write4. However this week has been two days of travel and seven straight days of trade show by day, client dinners by night and early setup the next morning. There aren’t really any appropriate opportunities, so the only way I was going to get through was to get ahead.
Know What Is Needed (And Do Even More) – My trip spans 7 posts to this blog. Posts that it is improbable (to the point of irresponsible) that I will write on or around the time they go live. When I started, I knew this and I planned accordingly. Slowly but surely, I intentionally set aside time to write additional posts. The new weight of 5-a-week was already a stretch, but if I wanted to keep going past this week, I needed to be set long before I ever took off. Knowing myself and the wear and tear that the show has on me each year, I also dug a little deeper and planned 10 posts ahead so I had a nice bit of cushion upon my return. Now I have a deadline of Monday for my next post rather than tomorrow. It takes the pressure off and lets me ease back into a rhythm.
I’m glad to have made it over the hump and hope that unlike failed diets, abandoned workout regimens and other miscellaneous unachieved endeavors of my past, that this means that you are stuck hearing from me for a little while longer. Who knows? Maybe next year, I’ll finally figure out a way to stay healthy during this week as well…