Life is a practice. We practice being mindful, exercising, eating well, loving our partner, being a good friend, writing, presenting, you name it, it's a practice. Being mindful of our words, actions, and emotions is a lot and to try to do that all the time is pretty much impossible, unless you're a monk. Are you a monk? I'm definitely not. And I'd argue that even monks consider themselves to still be practicing their mindfulness.
No matter how good we are at something, we can get off track. Remember the rumble strips I mentioned? When we get off track in our practices, something will eventually nudge us back on our desired path. Sometimes we can get pretty far off track before we realize we've left the paved road behind and are picking brambles out of our hair. We could have been in the weeds for months, but then in one moment we trip in just the right way and are reminded to get back on the path we drifted off so smoothly we didn't even notice we left it way back before the pandemic.
However, each time we choose to pick our practices back up, we get better. The more we practice, the closer we stay to our path when we veer off accidentally or consciously go chasing something shiny (or extra cheesy). We catch ourselves a little faster and can dip back on our way (sometimes with no one else noticing we ever drifted).
Who do you have to help you get back on track?
You know how good it feels to be in a regular exercise routine? You feel fit and strong, disciplined, and a little freer to eat the gooey cheesy thing. And you know when you fall off your routine how much easier it is to get back to it if you missed a day or a week, versus a month or a year (eek)? It's the same things with getting back to any practice.
The faster you can get back on track, the easier it is to get back on track.
If you need help staying focused, get an accountability partner -- someone on your same gym schedule, a friend who pulls no punches, a colleague, or someone at your church/monastery/temple/mosque/place of worship.
Can't think of anyone? I'm your huckleberry.