What to do when you backslide into old habits 

backslide habits

What can you do when you backslide into old habits? Here’s a method to get you back on track more easily.

It’s not uncommon for people to backslide into old habits, even if they’ve been on track for awhile.

Let’s say you built a nighttime routine you know (& feel!) helps you sleep better. Then you travel a week for work, and it’s all out the window.

Once you’re back home, your sleep isn’t refreshing, your routine hasn’t happened, and you’re back to using your phone right up until bedtime.

To get back on track more easily, use the AIR method, which stands for:


When you’ve had a backslide, the first step is to ACKNOWLEDGE three things:

  1. How deep is this pattern? The habits you’re trying to change are a worn path, created over many years or even several decades. It’s likely there are some life lessons to be discovered in changing your patterns. To wear a new path, time and patience is expected.
  2. How am I feeling about this backslide? It’s normal to have feelings about your backslide. Disappointment, anger, regret, fear (that one will never be able to change, for example) are common ones to process as part of moving forward..
  3. What progress have I already made? Due to the recency effect, you’re more likely to remember what just happened yesterday compared to last week. You’re not “starting over”; you already have a foundation. You’re now up-leveling your learning, growing, and changing.When you’re first starting out, “progress” could be that you’re simply more aware of what you’re doing. (For most people, that awareness is huge, so celebrate it!).


After you’ve acknowledged, there are two things to IDENTIFY:

  1. What did I learn? Rather than seeing backsliding as a failure or a losing situation, re-frame it as a learning experience. What might you do differently, based on this experience? View habit change as a journey of self-discovery. Learning to adapt to new circumstances is a natural part of the process. Make “win and learn” your new motto!.
  2. What do I need most? You may find it useful to look back to your feelings, as negative emotions carry clues as to what we most need. A common barrier my clients experience is lack of time, or failure to prioritize themselves when there are so many demands. You may need more space, or healthier boundaries.


Lastly, there are three things you’ll want to RECONNECT with:

  1. What DO I want? Don’t spend energy beating yourself up over what you didn’t want, didn’t do, how you failed, etc. Instead, spend a little time dreaming about what your life will be like when you are consistently doing what you want to do. Reconnecting with your vision, your dream of how your life will be different is a crucial part of your motivation that helps you get back on track. Paint a detailed, colorful picture.
  2. What about this is important to me? How does this vision satisfy you on a deeper level, as a human being? How does it help you become the person you want to be? For example, let’s say the habit you want to be doing consistently is putting down your screens 1-2 hours before bed so you sleep better and wake feeling more refreshed each morning. This may be important to you because you want to focus during your workday, so you can be more present and truly connect with your family in the evenings.
  3. What contributed to my prior successes? If you’ve been successful altering this habit before (see #3), changing another habit, or dealing with a similar challenge (even if it’s a different context or situation–such as professional vs. personal), what made that possible? Look at your strengths and supports for clues. Supports include other people, your environment, processes you had in place, tools you used, etc.

At this point you’re likely feeling more motivated, and know exactly what can help you get back on track.

(And if not, know I’m here to support you on your journey to better sleep, more energy, & an improved quality of life!)

Are you ready to get serious about sleep?


If you’re sick of stressing & worrying about your sleep & the toll it’s taking on your productivity, relationships, & health, download my FREE video series: 3 MINDSET SHIFTS REQUIRED TO RECLAIM YOUR SLEEP when you click the button below.



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Mindset Shifts Required to Reclaim Your Sleep
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Mindset Shifts Required to Reclaim Your Sleep
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