Not Making Progress? Stop Stopping

A few years back I went on a SwimTrek holiday in Croatia.

If you’re not familiar with SwimTrek, it’s a brilliantly organised sport holiday for open water swimmers. Many of the swims are island-to-island, a wonderful way to enjoy open water swimming while improving your technique.

Standing on the beach of our starting point, the swim guide points to a landmark on an island across the way and says, “That’s what we’re aiming for.”

The goal is straight forward: sight the landmark, keep sighting, and swim until you reach it. Simple, right?

I’ve been a swimmer my whole life, but during one of the crossings I was really struggling. I kept veering off-course. It was disorienting and frustrating to say the least. Just as I’d get going and find my rhythm, off I’d go.

So I’d stop and tread water, have a look around, see where everyone else was, get my bearings, catch my breath, and set off again. Over and over.

One of the swim guides – Susie – noticed this and yelled two words at me that have stuck ever since:

Stop stopping!

Initially it made no sense, how could I keep going if I’d lost sight of the landmark? Surely I needed to stop to re-direct myself?

I was expecting a quick lesson in technique to stop me swimming in circles. But technique wasn’t the issue. Incessant stopping was

Truth is, the landmark was never that far out of sight. I was allowing excuses to get in the way.

Here’s what became apparent: I was killing my progress and momentum. And I was creating extra work for myself each time I had to start over.

All that stop-start-stop-start was slowing me down and getting me nowhere. Meanwhile, there was the island, the goal, still off in the distance…

Stopping kills momentum.

Susie was so right. Those two words changed my whole approach. And it’s not just about the swimming.

For me, ‘stop stopping’ applies to most any activity we start with good intention but inevitably let slide.

How many times do we commit to a program, a habit or routine, a business initiative, a healthy lifestyle, only to stop before we get any traction? Or, just as we gain the traction we lose it.

It’s tough picking it back up again, isn’t it?

Focus on the long game.

Swimming from one island to another may seem a fair distance, but it’s doable as long as you keep going.

The same applies to some of our longer-term goals, the ones with goal posts far in the distance. It’s not always fun to put effort in when we won’t notice any change or result until further down the road.

That’s why those quick wins are so attractive and alluring as we sip our coffee when the day begins. The sooner we can strike off a task or two, the better. We get an instant result. We feel like we’re getting somewhere. And who doesn’t want that?

The big important stuff, however, takes longer. Yet the payoff of the work put in on the long game is far more rewarding.

What are your stop-start areas? We all have them. Do any of these resonate with you?

A new habit

A 30-day challenge

An on-line course

A certification

A business initiative

Learning a language

Healthier eating

Fitness training

If you’ve stopped, don’t beat yourself up, just identify where you can start again.

A mantra for motion.

And once you’ve re-started, resolve to keep going.

A day at a time, a week at a time, a month at a time.

Adopt the wise words of Susie from Swimtrek into your daily actions and pursuits.

Make it a mantra.

Stop stopping.

Get traction.

Reach your goals.

If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up. -Unknown

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