Slips and Surges, But Mostly Slips

For me, life is all about two steps forward and one step backward. Not in everything at every moment, but a lot of the time. I’ve criticized myself for taking that one step backward. I see it as a character flaw.

Motivation is comprised of highs and lows of energy output. These are the slips and surges we all experience. I first learned about them relative to weight loss. Slips are when eating veers off into the delicious ditch of donuts and daiquiris. Surges are when you’re squarely on the healthy eating path and are unshakable at this position. When I’m surging, not even the gooiest, creamiest, velvety-est chocolate cake can weaken my resolve. I’ll bet most readers can relate to a ton of their own eating slips and surges. Almost all of us will have a food that weakens us to our core when faced with it as an eating option.

Surges happen for me when I push past procrastination and finish that paper, chore, or errand I’ve been putting off for weeks. Being in this energized place often carries over into the accomplishment of other projects. I can become a whirling dervish of sudden task completions.

While surges can be viewed positively, slips are almost always discouraging. When we do that thing we swore we wouldn’t do again, like overeating or letting exercise slack off for weeks, we skulk off, hanging our head, feeling discouraged and scolding ourselves, “I knew you wouldn’t stick with it.”

Here is a fact about slips that many of us avoid but that is true at its core: 

We all experience slips and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives.  

Slips are a part of our lives, whether we’re talking about food or people or tasks like finishing a college degree or a craft or work project. What I mean is: our motivation to accomplish a goal or task or stay the course for the rest of your life to be happy and healthy comes and goes, waxes and wanes, remains strong and sometimes is nowhere in sight. The imperfection of slips is a part of life and, I believe, is unavoidable. Sometimes when we deviate from our path or goal, we are so shaken we give up on that thing entirely.

Is there something in your life you quit doing because you can’t do it perfectly, without slips? Have you discarded a new habit or way of being in the world because you slipped momentarily back into previous behavior? “It can’t be done. It’s unrealistic to think I can keep it up,” whatever ‘it’ is.

Surges are fun, uplifting, reaffirming that we’re capable and strong. Therefore, slips are bad and only point out our human nature and vulnerability.


Slips are a part of life and if we give up whatever because we’ve had a slip, well, you’re only using that as an excuse to give up. People who are addicted to alcohol, drugs, shopping, certain foods, and gambling have slips and are able to get back on track and fulfill their wishes of the goal they desire. It’s always a good idea to check out the circumstances around a slip. Is there something you could do to make sure it doesn’t happen like that again? Also, take the time to figure out before the next one some ideas on the best way to deal with a slip when it pops up.

Sometimes we’re riding atop a surging wave, feeling confident and suddenly we’re slammed to the shore with a slip. Slips happen (have I said that enough times here???) and are just as much as part of life as the surges. It’s the goal to keep them at bay, but when I have one now, I don’t boo hoo or wait several days, I jump right back on the desired path. You can too.