With COVID restrictions easing up again, I keep thinking about something I call “false finish lines.”

I came up with the term when a friend of mine, after working really hard to hit her goal weight, stopped working so hard and gained back all of the weight she had lost. I recall her saying that once reached her goal weight, she ate ALL THE COOKIES. And it got me thinking about how doing the things that get you to a goal are the same things that keep you at that goal.

Achieving a goal isn’t making it to a finish line; it’s proof that the things you did to get there work (and that you most likely have to keep doing them).

If we’re going to stick with the racing metaphor, I think a better visualization than a finish line is a treadmill. If you stop moving, you will fall off.

This lesson applies to any goal, really: getting a promotion, saving money, running farther or faster—lots of things. So don’t worry, this post isn’t about problematic diet culture (though I do have lots of feelings about it!)!

The easing of COVID restrictions is a perfect example of falling for the false finish line. We saw it last year. For all of April, we did our part and closed our businesses, kept our distance, and stayed home. And it worked! The curve started to flatten. So in mid-May, instead of doubling-down on those successful preventative measures, we started loosening up. You know what happened next.

And now we’re doing it again. We are getting pummeled by this virus, but since people are starting to get vaccinated and hospitalizations are going down (or they were), we’re all too eager to return to business as usual with indoor dining, larger gatherings, and other non-essential activities.

What worked before doesn’t keep working when you stop.

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