I like to think of my life as a ship that I steer. My daily actions dictate its movements and, like all vehicles, it requires maintenance, care and sometimes repair. The most important part of steering a ship is to make sure that it is moving. You cannot dictate the direction of something that is still.
I used to be very hard on myself when I missed a day of healthy eating, keeping fit, writing blog posts etc. and it got pretty destructive. I later read about “all-or-nothing mindsets” and realised how well I embodied this way of thinking; if something wasn’t a glorious success then I saw it as a failure. And so came the onslaught of self-loathing and negative thoughts.
But here’s the thing about ships: if you sail a while and then turn the engine off, the momentum keeps it moving forwards. Yes, only for a short while, but it’s still moving. And this analogy is true of the positive changes we try to implement in our lives. If you have started working out, your body continues to get stronger while you rest as the muscles repair. If you have started eating healthily, your body is still reaping the benefits of the nutrients you gave it while you’re eating that to-share bag of crisps. If you have started a creative project, your mind is still working on things behind the scenes even as you focus on the television show you’ve already seen six times. Our lives are affected by things we can’t control just as ships are at the mercy of the ocean and this isn’t something we should punish ourselves for.
So if you miss a day – or even a week or a month – of whatever your goal is, don’t indulge those “all-or-nothing” thoughts because you are doing just fine. Just restart the engine and decide where your ship is going to take you.