Motivation Strategies

1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward

Don't Let a Setback Stop You from Pushing Ahead

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"Fall seven times, get up eight." - Japanese Proverb
"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." - John Quincy Adams
"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials." - Chinese Proverb
"Never give in. Never. Never. Never. Never." - Winston Churchill
"Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance." - Samuel Johnson

These quotes all say the same thing. No matter how many obstacles you run into, what matters is that you’re able to overcome each of them, one at a time.

"Two steps forward, one step back" is usually a negative term to describe someone who is having trouble making progress. But switched around, "1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward" means that instead of grousing or feeling guilty about a misstep, you can still come out ahead if you put your head down and push forward.

Steps back can take many forms: a family vacation, breaks in your routine, personal tragedies, injuries, or that lost weekend in front of the tube. A big mistake people make when trying to get healthier is that when they fall off a bit or something happens, they think they "have to start over". Wrong! When missteps do happen, a better strategy is to simply take two steps forward. You’re still ahead of where you were before, far beyond the starting line.

In tennis, losing one point isn’t the end of the world. It happens to the best of them. In fact, if you can consistently win a few more points that you lose, you may end up in the hall of fame. With healthy eating and exercising, as long as you’re consistently out-stepping your steps back, you’re ahead of the game. If you expect perfection (and many of us do), you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and guilt.

Guilt can be debilitating to your healthy habits. When you mess up (or even when things are messed up for you), it’s natural to feel guilty. At that point, you have a choice: to let that guilt plummet you into a cycle that could spit you out worse off than before, or to accept the step back and say "where do I go from here?"

Of course, consistent success is still something to strive for. You don’t want to roller-coaster up and down. That’s an "old" habit, remember? And the 1Step/2Step strategy doesn’t lessen the need to do your best. You should still work hard to keep those steps back from happening. But it helps to be prepared with a plan and a positive attitude for when they do happen.
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About The Author

Mike Kramer Mike Kramer
As a writer and artist, Mike has witnessed countless motivational stories and techniques. See all of Mike's articles.

Member Comments

  • I liked this article but I think the saying is 1 step forward 2 steps back. To indicate you aren't making any progress. - 7/2/2014 4:35:53 PM
  • I needed to read this, now I just have to apply it to my routine - 4/17/2014 3:33:35 PM
  • thanks, good advice. - 4/2/2014 10:12:44 AM
  • Needed this...1 step back/2 steps forward! - 11/7/2013 6:13:40 PM
  • Needed this! Thanks! - 11/7/2013 9:53:25 AM
  • The article is true. We need to take a step back sometimes and regroup. - 8/16/2013 6:36:33 PM
  • Thank you for this! Today, I was really feeling bad about falling short of many of my personal goals. Guilt and shame was setting in. Then I realized that even on my worse day God still loves me. I am still the apple of HIS eye. With that, I know that even if I fall 7 times, I can get up 8. That was awesome. - 7/31/2013 11:18:33 AM
  • This article is just what I needed and just in time. I've slacked off tracking my food and fitness for a few days. I won't beat myself up this time. I'll pat myself on the back for the amount of weight I've already lost and get back up. Sending skinny and healthy vibes to everyone. - 2/24/2013 10:54:51 PM
  • KATYMACKEM
    An excellent article which provides a wealth of information for dealing with those difficult times. It provides good strategies for dealing with situations which can demotivate us. - 2/16/2013 3:51:51 PM
  • This is a wonderful article and a great way to change around some thinking. The words are the same but the meaning is totally different when the order is changed. THANK YOU is all I can say. - 1/23/2013 11:52:56 AM
  • MAGGIE101857
    I love the "return to the basics"! We get caught up in the newest fad, or simply wanted to read everything we can get our hands on. Sometimes you just have to take a step back and regroup! - 1/18/2013 8:32:27 AM
  • Great article. Just had my one step back and looking ahead to two steps forward instead of continuing in the wrong direction! Thanks for the change in perspective. - 11/24/2012 8:07:34 AM
  • Great article. Just had my one step back and looking ahead to two steps forward instead of continuing in the wrong direction! Thanks for the change in perspective. - 11/24/2012 8:06:02 AM
  • I love this article. I tend to be a perfectionist and more than anything this is what sabotages most of my health goals. Life pops up and I end up giving up just because I didn't do "perfectly." This article really puts it in the right perspective. LOL. I may have to read it once a month until the lesson sinks in but i'm very glad its here! - 11/12/2012 7:36:44 PM
  • Love this article - it really puts everything into perspective. Sometimes it does feel like I "failed" when I screw up a meal or decide not to get up when my alarm goes off to exercise.

    But when I look back and see in the last week I had 6 days of eating healty, and I worked out 5 - that reminds me that I'm on the right track.

    I love the one step back...two forward. Thank you for a great article! - 8/8/2012 12:31:14 PM

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