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The slippery slope of old habits


You might have noticed I haven’t been around for a while.slippery slope

I wrote my last post a month ago. What happened to me? Did I get sick? Did I have an accident on my new bicycle? Did I have a family crisis? Did I win the lottery and depart on a world cruise?

No. None of those events happened. Nothing happened in my life except that it got a little busier.

I’m preparing a workshop that I will be presenting in June. I’m moving my therapy office from one location to another. Those two tasks alone have taken up much more time than I anticipated. But why did I allow them to get in the way of my writing here—especially when I know so many of you are as excited as I am about our journey and the prospect of learning to live a more meaningful life?

I lost sight of my values.

I am taken aback by how easy it was to slip back into living in a manner that is less conscious than I want my life to be. Slipping is part of the journey, and that is the topic of today’s post.

Before we go any further, let’s do a quick review about our journey toward a more values-based, meaningful life.

The invitation

A few months ago, I posted How to live a more meaningful life: An open invitation. We had a great discussion about the idea that most of us are tired of living a life based on thinking, “When I acquire or achieve ______, then I’ll feel better or my life will be good or I will have ‘arrived.’”

The problem is that we spend much of our time trying to acquire or achieve whatever fills in that blank rather than fully living the life we have now. And then, when we finally acquire or achieve _______, we feel great for a while, but soon we’re back to feeling empty. And so we start striving toward the next __________ that we believe is bound to make us feel better.

The missing component is living by our values. Our values address questions like: What is my life about? What impact am I making on the world? How can I strive to live a meaningful life when I’m dealing with painful thoughts, feelings, and events?

Naming our values

Next, I posted Naming your values: The compass for a rich, meaningful life.  I also created a worksheet to help us name our values and identify which ones are most important.

And then, we looked at whether we are actually living those values.

I found that three of my top values were community, kindness, and making a difference.


Writing the Bounce blog and conversing with you is one way I create and enjoy community, exercise kindness, and make a difference in the world.

So, how was I so easily distracted from my writing?

I slipped into old beliefs  and habits.

Certainly, there is nothing wrong with my preparing for a workshop or relocating my office. However, due to the time pressure I felt I was under, I reverted to my old thought process:  “When I get my office moved, then I’ll be less stressed. After I present this workshop, then I’ll get back to writing.”

I fell right back into “When _________ happens, then everything will be okay, and then I can write my blog.” It’s an old habit, and I’m guessing it’s one that you struggle with, too.

It’s easy to slip back into “When-Then” thinking. We need to accept that slipping happens, and then take action when we recognize that we’ve slipped.

Getting back on our path

In my next post, I will present some techniques to help us get back on our path when we slip.

I’d like to hear how you are doing on this journey. Have you done some work on naming your values?  How have you attempted to better incorporate your values into your daily life? What blocks you from fully living your values? Have you slipped like I did? What did you learn from slipping?

I appreciate your patience with me as I stumble over some rocks in my path. I hope I can turn them into stepping stones for us all!



  1. Lois says:

    You are right. I can list my values, but getting around to living them regularly is the kicker. They get lost in day to day trivia or things that have to be done now, before I can move on. Glad I’m not the only one. Now, start again.

  2. Bobbi,

    It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who stumbles from time to time.

    Welcome back!

    Alex Blackwell | The BridgeMaker recently posted…Just Ask Yourself, “Why?”My Profile

    • Bobbi says:

      Hi Alex,

      Oh, I think I not only stumble, but sometimes fall flat on my face! 😉

      Thanks for stumbling along with me, though!

  3. Mike Keller says:

    Thank you for the great post Bobbi. I have addressed my values by creating “The Mike Keller Manifesto”. I welcome comments.

    The Mike Keller Manifesto

    Be kind to everyone…always..even when they don’t deserve it….especially when they don’t deserve it!

    Brighten someone’s day…tell them they are beautiful .

    Address everyone by their first name. If you don’t know it, learn it. If you have forgotten it, ask for it.

    Ask others for help. They are waiting for you to ask. Really.

    Express gratitude every chance you get. It is easy to say “thank you”, it takes effort to explain why you appreciate someone.

    Remember the only person who thinks you are important is you. Period.

    Tell others “I like you because”. You will amazed at what happens next.

    All you have in life is your family, health and reputation. Take care of these at all costs.

    You are who you are because of what others have done for you. Think of others first..second..third. If you are thinking about yourself think again.

    Life is a gift..always show your appreciation for this gift.

    • Bobbi says:

      Interesting manifesto, Mike. Thanks for sharing it; you can see some of your values clearly in there!

  4. karun says:

    Good to see u bobbi her now u bounce back here …. just kidding

    Well welcome back :)

  5. Cathy Howard says:

    Hi Bobbi,

    You may have been gone for awhile but not forgotten! I’ve been using your insights in my work with people in crisis. So thanks for the boost up.

    • Bobbi says:

      Thanks for that, Cathy! I’m glad that some of my ideas – and the community’s ideas together – have been helpful for you and your clients!

  6. It happens, Bobbi. Shows we’re human. Welcome to Life, honey. xoa

  7. Carole Lyden says:

    Hi Bobbi, yes I have missed your posts but don’t beat yourself up over it. I too have slipped a bit lately. I have just returned from a long break and let go of my psychotherapy blog. Looking forward to change and reinvention if life doesn’t get in the way. Looking forward to your next post. Getting back on the path is something I am procrastinating over.
    Carole Lyden recently posted…How to become a flagship writer- 10 actions to fast track your writingMy Profile

    • Bobbi says:

      Hi Carole,

      No, I’m not beating myself up too much. I think I’m more surprised at how easily life gets in the way and old habits are to sink back into.

      Cheers to the change and reinvention period for you, Carole! Keep us updated on how it goes.

  8. ann says:

    I love all your posts Bobbi and even the comments are so helpful. In particular i love Mike Kellers manifesto and am going to make one of my own on similar grounds. Thanks for introducing me to beautiful people.

    • Bobbi says:

      Hey Ann, I’m glad you’ve found the community here helpful as well as the posts! That’s how it’s supposed to be! Looking forward to seeing your manifesto whenever you make it.

  9. Luz says:

    Thank you for sharing and for making me feel I’m not the only one slipping. Sometimes when I read self help books or blogs, people write like they have accomplished the objectives I am struggling with, and makes me feel frustrated because I haven’t been able to succeed. Your words brought hope, and made me remember that old habits die hard and that’s where conscioussness can help.
    Great to hear from you again!

    • Bobbi says:

      Luz, I’m so glad to hear you say this! That’s my beef with a lot of self-help stuff is that they inadvertently (or purposefully, sometimes) make people feel “less than” because they can’t do the “10 Simple Steps” or maintain the “5 Secrets.” I’m really happy that my stumbling has been helpful for you – thanks so much for the feedback!

  10. Priska says:

    Hi Bobbi,
    I’m still missing in action.
    My excuse is that I was re decorating my home and working.
    But the real reason is the same as you, I slipped into old habits.
    Priska recently posted…10 steps to take you toward your mid-life reinvention.My Profile

    • Bobbi says:

      It’s okay, Priska. Life does keep us busy but what I’m beginning to learn is that we can redecorate our houses and work AND keep our values in mind, too!

  11. Donna says:

    Hi, I know exactly what you mean about ‘slipping back into habits’, as I have allowed my work to take over, meaning I don’t go to the gym, see friends and family and ‘live my life’ as much as I want to/had been. I’m trying to get back into a better routine of making ‘me’ time to live my life and do things that I value.

    • Bobbi says:

      Thanks for your comments, Donna. It seems like we all have some trouble keeping an eye on our most important values. I hope – again – that we an all figure out how to turn those stumbling blocks into stepping stones!

  12. Doug Toft says:

    Bobbi: Welcome back. Thanks for the series on living your values daily. It’s a major theme in the literature on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as well.
    Doug Toft recently posted…You Have to Have Something to SayMy Profile

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Bobbi Emel is a therapist who helps people in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mountain View and the greater Bay Area manage their stress and develop their strengths.
She is effective in helping people dealing with anxiety, worry and grief; and also those who want to improve their effectiveness and performance.