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The back-to-reality phase

‘I do not fear failure. I only fear the slowing down of the engine inside of me which is pounding, saying, “Keep going, someone must be on top, why not you?”‘ George S. Patton

The back-to-reality phase is what marks the end of the legacy project honeymoon. The exact timescale from beginning to the back-to-reality phase differs with every project, but the phase invariably happens. And when it does, the honeymoon peters out.

The back-to-reality phase usually starts in the form of an obstacle that you have not anticipated, or that did not seem to be insurmountable at first but is now becoming the biggest thing you have to conquer.

The back-to-reality phase may also be caused by people within your supportive network, if you have not chosen wisely. A key person becoming unreliable or having more pressing commitments or starting a fight among the network – these are just a few examples of how the back-to-reality phase can manifest itself.

The most important thing to know about the back-to-reality phase is to know that it is there, and to have positive strategies in place for dealing with it. Most importantly, if as a result of the back-to-reality phase (and due to the end of the honeymoon phase) you are the only one still working on the project, you have to find ways to keep going. You also have to start preparing yourself for the next phase in the process of carrying out the legacy project to completion: the motivation slump (I will talk about it in a later blog post).

For now, remember this: slowing down is okay, as long as you are still moving. Don’t let the back-to-reality phase shame you into quitting. Sure, the honeymoon phase is wonderful, but it is unsustainable. Be grateful of all the progress you have achieved during the honeymoon phase, but don’t take that as the standard. Find ways to keep moving without all the positive reinforcement of the honeymoon phase: this is by far the most reliable and sustainable way to complete your legacy project.

The time is now.

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