"Progress towards your goals is never going to be a straight line. It will always be a bumpy line. You'll go up and then come down a little. Two steps forward and one step back.
There's a good rhythm in that. It is like a dance. There's no rhythm in a straight line upward.
However, people get discouraged when they slide a step back after two steps forward. They think they are failing, and that they've lost it. But they have not. They're simply in step with the natural rhythm of progress. Once you understand this rhythm, you can work with it instead of against it. You can plan the step back.
In The Power of Optimism, Alan Loy McGinnis identifies the characteristics of tough-minded optimists, and one of the most important is that optimists always plan for renewal. They know in advance that they are going to run out of energy. 'In physics,' says McGinnis, 'the law of entropy says that all systems, left unattended, will run down. Unless new energy is pumped in, the organism will disintegrate.'
Pessimists don't want to plan for renewal, because they don't think there should be any. Pessimists are all-or-nothing thinkers. They're always offended when the world is not perfect. They think taking a step backward means something negative about the whole project. 'If this were a good marriage, we wouldn't have to rekindle the romance,' a pessimist would say, dismissing the idea of taking a second honeymoon.
But an optimist knows there will be ups and downs. And an optimist isn't scared or discouraged by the downs. In fact, an optimist plans for the downs, and prepares creative ways to deal with them."
From "100 Ways to Motivate Yourself" by Steve Chandler