What Happens When You Stop Long Term, Successful Habits?

Although I liked playing in pools, I never took swimming all that seriously until I entered my 30’s.  At that point, I fell in love with swimming long distances, and did just that week after week, month after month, and year after year. I never swam less than a mile in any workout, and I usually swam two to three miles.  This repeated motion became somewhat easy for my body and I continued this routine for the next 28 years.  Then the pandemic hit, my club closed, and my swimming workouts stopped abruptly.

Like everyone else, I scrambled to find other ways to workout.  I rediscovered running. I practiced yoga.  I worked out with weights and I worked to strengthen my core. I was happy with my level of fitness, and I felt like I had successfully managed this unwelcome change to my exercise routine… or so I thought.

Within a few months, one of my shoulders became sore, and the other one wasn’t far behind. It became so bad, I had trouble putting my shirt on. Assuming it was an injury caused by lifting weights, I began to back off the weights. No help.  I went to rehab.  Some help.  A cortisone shot.  Some help.  More rehab.  Some help.  My doctor’s unofficial diagnosis was, “getting older,” and I began to think sadly he was right until…

… three weeks ago, when fully vaccinated, I went to my club, and nervously jumped back into the water.  It was incredibly painful to swim, but it was bearable. I only swam about 20 laps, and I wondered if the pain would get better or worse if I swam again. I did remember something my physical therapist had said to me on more than one occasion: “Motion is lotion.”   The pain slowly subsided over the next three or four swims, and just as quickly, I regained most of my flexibility and strength in my shoulders.  I learned something I had never really considered: It wasn’t the motion that was creating a problem, but rather, the lack thereof.

So let’s talk about you now.  You do things that are important to your business, and for the purpose of this conversation, these things create a kind of motion.  I’m talking about tasks that require true effort and self-control, and frequently, these aren’t your favorite tasks.  For instance, I haven’t met many salespeople that truly enjoy cold calling.  Nobody wants to, or needs to, tie his or her entire marketing approach to cold calling, but doing a little bit of it on a consistent level can be effective.  The more you continue this motion, the easier it becomes. This pattern can repeat itself in any number of other examples such as maintaining a presence on social media, reading industry related books and articles, and chipping away at long-term goals.

To be successful, you have to repeat the activities that support these efforts in a sustained, almost routine manner.  What do you think would happen if you didn’t just miss out on these tasks, but stopped them altogether?  Like my tired shoulders, the damage will be quick, and the impact will be lasting.  What’s more, the longer you stop that motion, the harder it is to begin again.

When you’ve stopped long term, consistent, successful habits, despite the nagging negative voice in your head that may tell you otherwise, you absolutely can start them again, and pick right up where you left off.  Sure, you’ll encounter some obstacles early on, and like getting back on a bicycle, you may wobble, but you won’t fall. Before you know it, these successful habits of the past get easier and easier.

I’m not a fan of working out; I am a fan of showing up, sticking to my commitment, and finishing working out!  I’m also not a fan of the less than glamorous aspects of my work like chasing down clients, sitting on planes, and spending nights alone in hotel rooms; I’m a fan of finishing these less than glamorous aspects of my work!

I’m sure you’re not a fan of certain activities in your business or personal life, but the more you do them, the more routine they become, and the easier they become.  If you’ve stopped, and that voice in your head is convincing you that you can’t go back, shut it down, and get right back at it.  I’m guessing you’ll be quite surprised at how fast you pick up where you left off because there is truth to these words: Motion is lotion.

Related: Not Only Do Opposites Attract …They Must Attract