How Do You Get Back On Track When You’ve Drifted?

Knowing how to get yourself back on track when your life has drifted away from your best path for an hour, a day or a week is an important part of living a simple deliberate life.

How do you press the reset button on your life when things get out of control for you?

For me, walking, rest and meditation are how I usually do it.

Here We Go Again

I’ve always been keenly aware of when I’m living up to my potential and when I’m not. To put it another way, I know when things are going well and when they aren’t.

Still, I sometimes let things slip out of control for a few hours — maybe even for a few days.

The idea for this post came to me Monday afternoon when I was trying to remember how to get rid of that pain between my eyes, in my shoulders and in my stomach that probably feels very much like a hangover. I don’t drink, so I’ve never been drunk, but when I eat too much or sleep too little, I get this feeling. If it’s anything like a hangover, I never want to be drunk.

Sunday night, I ate too much at a party, and something kept me awake during the night. I know those things cause me to feel bad the next day, so I also get anxiety about how intense the symptoms will be when they hit me. It’s a downward spiral that I can sometimes pull out of quickly and something have to deal with for a day or two.

It’s a feeling that every part of my body is functioning at a less than its best. And it makes me mad. “Here we go again,” I always think. “Surely I’m too smart to let this happen again.”

But apparently, I sometimes need reminders of how much I dislike feeling sick.

After a walk and two naps, I felt pretty good by Monday evening. Once I’m caught up on sleep, I’ll probably be able to concentrate enough to meditate away any remaining symptoms.

What About You?

For me, a walk loosens my stiff muscles and get my juices moving again, eliminating some of that icky feeling that comes from momentarily living out of control. Some rest clears the pain in my head that signals a lack of sleep and a lack of focus. Then, some time in meditation allows me to reboot my brain, forgive myself for taking actions that I know lead to unpleasant consequences and put my brief moments of discomfort in a broader perspective.

Of course, a couple of Tylenol often help too.

But what about you?

If this talk of rebooting and poor decisions makes no sense to you, that could mean one of two things. Maybe you don’t ever get out of sync with your best path. Or maybe you haven’t yet analyzed your life closely enough to realize that your aches, pains and illnesses are often the result of your own actions and can be managed by your actions too. Which is it?

I suspect most of you know exactly what I mean, however. You know when your unpleasantness is the result of your own actions, and you know how to put things right.

What does it take for you? How do you bring your life back into line when it gets wobbly or worse?

Walking, resting and meditating have a profound impact on my life. I hope there’s a process in your life that impacts you just as much when things are a bit off.

And I hope you’ll tell us about it in the comments section.


  1. Hi Gip, I came across your website after doing a search for other bloggers writing on minimalism. While I don’t just write about minimalism, I do believe that it is a big part of a sustainable life. But after reading your post “How to get back on track when you’ve drifted” I thought you might enjoy my blog post “Lessons From CAtching A Cold–and other tips on how to be kind to yourself while being sick.” If interested, you can find it here: Meanwhile, keep up the great blog and I look forward to reading more in the future!…Kathy

    1. Thanks for joining the conversation, Kathy. It’s a slow summer here, but I’ll be back at it in the fall — spreading the good news of a better way. See you soon.

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