06/23/2014 12:24 pm ET Updated Aug 06, 2014

Recipe for Getting Back on the Wagon

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You were doing so well consistently going to the gym, sorting your inbox, working on your painting, keeping your dream diary, etc., that you're almost shocked at how easy it was to just not do it one day. And then to not do it the next day. And then to look around and realize that a month had gone by since you'd done this thing you swore you'd never NOT do again. The view from off the wagon is cold and gray. Here's a recipe for getting back on.

Recipe Yield: Renewed Sense of Vigor

Recipe Ingredients:
1 Thing You Know You Should Do
1 tbs Emotional Decryption
1 Inner Turmoil Thermometer
2 tsp Care
3 drops Reflection
½ tsp Inquisitiveness
1 tbs Trust

Recipe Procedure:

Mix Reflection and Inquisitiveness with The Thing You Know You Should Do for a dose of introspection. People don't stop doing things for no reason. If the reason's not obvious, chances are you have neglected a basic need that will continue to zap your joy and motivation until you attend to it.

When inner feelings of rebellion bubble to the surface, insert Inner Turmoil Thermometer into the mix and take a reading. What excuses/ cries of protest arise at the thought of doing this once simple task that now looms like the Mountain of Doom? Do you just not feel like it? Is there something you'd rather be doing? Are you too tired? These objections are your clues.

Add Emotional Decryption and decipher the need that belies your desire to not do.

Mix the distilled need with care. Are you resisting going to yoga because you're exhausted? Bipass the impulse to "power through it" or go hard on yourself* and stay home, shower, and watch a movie instead. Can you not bring yourself to study another page because you haven't spoken to another human soul all day? Close the book and call a friend.

As the mixture begins to curdle, add Trust. If you're secretly afraid that if you fully submit to your stasis (i.e. relinquish your feelings of shame/guilt) you'll never get back on track, have some faith in yourself. There's no point in getting back on the wagon if you're just going to fall off again for the same reason and taking time to regroup is the best way to ensure that won't happen. Everyone needs a break now and again.

To serve: Bask in Lockean feelings of freedom.

*Trying to motivate yourself by coercion is like trying to heal a sprained ankle by walking on it; even if you manage to shame yourself into a burst of productivity, this will ultimately result in feelings of resentment or worse: paralysis.