Falling Off the Wagon: AACK!

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Falling Off the Wagon

Goals are important and, at First Responder Coaching, we’re all about goals. But goals are hard. We all run the risk of falling off the wagon and it’s not just a term for alcoholism. According to Livestrong.com, 80% of people are not successful at keeping their diet. Healthline notes a 2012 study, saying that 73% of people trying an exercise routine quit before reaching their goals. First Steps Recovery says that for those rehabbing from drugs and alcohol, 40-60% relapse at some point. Whether your wagon is dieting, exercise, or personal prohibition, whatever your commitment is, you need a support plan.

There’s plenty of advice out there. You can find loads of websites with tips and tricks to whatever your trouble is. The thing you don’t find is how to get back up when you fall aside from simply telling you to try again and stay focused. It’s frustrating to struggle with weight or addiction only to be told to try harder or you’re not committed enough. There’s emergency plans in every industry, so why not with personal goals? Here’s a simple thing to remember in case you fall off your wagon: AACK! Seem silly? That’s okay, you’ll remember it. Accountability. Acknowledge. Correct. Keep Going.


First off, it warrants mentioning that the more serious the need, the more serious the accountability. If you’re committing to ten pushups a morning and you forget one morning, you may only tell yourself. If you’re suffering from drug addiction, you need one or more people backing you that you check in with often. That’s not something you should do on your own! We have coaches, therapists, mentors, friends, and family to pull from. Everyone’s support system looks different but everyone needs someone to hold them accountable for goals to be most successful. We need to rely on others to give us strength and rest when the journey makes us weary. Who’s your village?


The first two are sort of interchangeable in order, but both necessary. We all mess up. We’re all human. So it’s important to face that when it happens in order to move on. “Yes, I forgot my pushups.” Ignoring the slip up means completely shirking the goal! Acknowledging the slip up means keeping it in sight.

Maybe you need to say it out loud. This is personal accountability. (See? They are a bit interchangeable.) Sometimes saying it to a person, realizing what happened, how it happened, and why, is a bigger step than you realize. It means prevention and growth. It also means healing and strength. You come out stronger. Forgive yourself and take a breath. See what you need to see in this situation. Get perspective. Are you able to admit your slip ups? Are you seeing things for what they are?


It does no good to admit fault if we’re not going to try again. Sometimes you need to correct yourself. Don’t give up! Set yourself back on track to keep that train going! “I’ll do my pushups now, even though it’s noon.” Maybe you put yourself in an environment or in a situation that encouraged your addiction. (Did you go to a bar with friends?) Don’t go there anymore. Maybe you chose poorly in some way. (Staying up late so you’re too tired to get up early for work?) Remove that poor choice from your options if possible or recommit to not doing it again.

What went wrong? You acknowledge the setback and how it happened. Now, what can you do to avoid it happening again? Coaches can help you navigate these questions and find solutions that come from you. You may need to think deeply and make hard choices. You may need to look at yourself and your situation from a new perspective. The solution is inside of you. Can you make up for something? Can you find a way to adjust?

Keep Going

This step is self-explanatory: keep going. You’ll never finish the race if you quit the moment you’re tired. Rest (accountability), refresh (acknowledge), get back on track (correct), and keep going. You need to deal with a setback? Okay, take care of it, then keep going. You have something holding you back? Fine, find a way around it and keep going. You feel like you just don’t have it in you? Shorten your goals to something manageable for you and keep going. What goal are you keeping in sight?

Getting Back On

You may think you don’t have the support or resources to stay the course. The truth is, you do! They come from both inside and outside. Inside, you need to find the right self-talk to stay on track and forgive yourself when you don’t. Outside, you need the right people, environment, and resources to hold you up and hold you to it. Is the stress too much? Tell your accountability partner! Acknowledge that. Correct it with whatever adjusts seem right to you (and your support team). Then keep going towards that goal.

You can be a better you. It’s okay if you’re falling off the wagon; just don’t stay off. There’s plenty of advice on goal-setting and achieving but not much telling you it’s okay to mess up. We are human and we are not perfect. When we fail, we’re let down. Tell yourself it’s okay. Find a solution. Use your village (or single person if that’s your team.) Readjust and keep going. You’re worth getting to that destination. You’re worth the effort of achieving that goal! The next time you find yourself falling off the wagon, just remember AACK! Yup, it’s silly, but you’ll remember.