How to Stop the Boomerang Effect and Recycle Old Habits

Kimberly Sheldahl
8 min readFeb 22, 2022


It happens every year. The cycle of resolutions. You make promises to yourself. You finally prioritize your wellness goals, figure out what hobbies actually interest you and schedule time to pursue them. You’ve even looked at your schedule and considered booking that vacation.

But then January turns into February and the same habits are staring back at you as if they boomeranged out of nowhere. They blind side you, or do you expect them like an old friend?

That’s the impact of the boomerang effect. It will leave you dead in your tracks wondering what the heck happened, but only for a moment. After all, the year must go on.

But ,this year doesn’t have to be like all the rest, a repeat of the start, stop and get stuck cycle. The cycle that doesn’t afford you an opportunity to filter the many things that competes for your attention to ensure you don’t get lost in the mix.

Boomerang — yellow with paint splattered on a black background
The Boomerang Effect. Adobe Stock Photo

How Do You Stop the Boomerang Cycle?

  1. Get clear on your priorities. Priorities either support your goals or not. If your goals were a Broadway production then they would be the backstage crew, cast members, leading actors and actresses, musicians, etc. You get the picture.

The “production”, or in this case, your goal doesn’t happen without choosing the right backstage crew, cast members, leading actors and accompanying music. Choosing means you select priorities much like you are casting a major production in the show called your life. Get serious about those choices, your outcomes depend on it!

2. Next manage your priorities. You can’t choose priorities and leave them alone. They must be nurtured and managed. I know, it seems like something else to do, and it is, but managing key priorities are well worth the effort.

Frankly if you don’t manage your priorities, you’ll find yourself being managed by everything other than where you want your life to go. You’ll be like a puppet in that Broadway production, but you’ll not be in charge of your strings. To prevent that, let me share a few processes for managing your priorities:

Pareto + F.U.E.L. = MPGs (Movement on Priority Gains)

You could use the Pareto Principle to enhance your efficiency but add another layer. As you may know this principle states that 80% of results comes from 20% of effort. If you can hone in on the 20% of effort that’s getting results in your life, you increase efficiency. That’s the bottom line. What will you do with the time that you save?

The effort you put towards your goals requires energy, not just time. In order to get a better handle on energy, it’s important to understand the various forms of energy. What best fuels your energy and how you best recharge.

In my upcoming course, Ditch Competing Priorities for Completed Priorities (Module 1 available March 8th), I reference mpg, or movement on priority gains. I use the acronym F.U.E.L., and apply it to the 80/20 Pareto rule.

F.U.E.L. stands for:

F — Form

U –Unit

E — Ergs

L — Leveraged /Lost Energy

Ask yourself these questions:

What forms of energy best fuels your engine? Things to consider that are obvious and not so obvious.

Form Examples:

Sleep or relaxation, things like creative work or a hobby.

Healthy relationships — time spent with family and friends.


Career or professional life.


Unit (s) Examples:

How much of any form of energy do you need?

Sleep — hours/night — — 7 to 8 hours?

Time with friends? — 2 dates/month?

Time to meal plan (support nutrition) — 1 hour/week?

Time to focus on your career or professional life? — 45 hours/week?

Time for hobbies or “you” time. — 5 hours/week?

Exercise — 6 hours/week?

Erg Example:

Ergs require a bit of explanation. Each of us has 100 ergs to allocate on any given day. Once we spend our ergs they are spent, but the good news is, they are renewable if we attend to other forms of the F.U.E.L. model.

Ergs is a physics term and used in the science of Conation that is a basis for much of Kathy Kolbe’s life long work. You receive your erg allocation a Pyramid of Mental Energy report included in your Kolbe A™ Index.

Ergs are based on the premise that time is finite and you should use your mental energy wisely.

So, first ask yourself when and how do you use mental energy? Most of us would answer, when solving problems. The great news is that our conative mind is linked to how we innately solve problems and we are instinctively inclined to initiate problem solving one way. When we solve problems in the way that is most natural we expend energy, but it’s a natural expenditure. In essence, we aren’t using energy that is going against a natural grain, rather we are “going with the flow.” Our natural flow!

Example Pyramid of Mental Energy:

Pyramid of Mental Energy

Example Pyramid of Mental Energy:


1 ring represents 1 unit/erg

Colors coordinate to a “specific” individual’s Action Mode®

Interpretation of this specific result:

Time & Energy Allocation:

40% of it is best spent focused on driving on the uncertainties of the future.

35% of time and energy is best spent focusing on the past. This does not mean “living in the past”, rather a way of initiating problem solving, e.g. researching facts, something that already happened or was proven.

15% of time and energy is best spent focusing on following through with things related to the past, present and future. Think of it as ways to “keep the ball” moving, progress going in the right direction.

10% of time and energy deals with the here and now.

Overlay of the 80/20 rule and a Kolbe A™ Pyramid of Mental Energy might look like this.

After a thorough business analysis, you decide to focus your efforts on the 20% of your business that is getting you the best 80% of your results. You now want to further maximize those efforts. The next step is to apply the Kolbe A™, Pyramid of Mental Energy.

If you were the example above you would want to spend as close as possible to 40% of your time and energy on innovative solutions. You would not want to get stuck in day to day operations for the larger percentage of your day. That would be wasting your time and energy, and with the constant energy depletion, no matter how much you refueled, you’d still be wondering why you felt so drained.

Another example would include making decisions surrounding those innovative ideas. Your Pyramid of Mental Energy™ says you need to spend 35% of your time and energy devoted to this type of work. So, if you research the facts to support your strategy behind your ideas you’d be allocating good use of your daily allotted ergs.

Your ergs are an energy unit and can become a fuel additive. The key to benefiting from your ergs is to use them properly. When used as prescribed, across the spectrum of your time and energy and in accordance to your Kolbe A™, your Pyramid of Mental Energy will support great feats.

Leveraged or Lost Energy: Read your Gauge

What’s Your Power Level? Adobe Photo Stock

It’s important to be in tune with your energy levels and evaluate your energy cycle daily. Once you know what optimizes your engine and what gives you the best mpg (movement on priority gains), put a system and routine into place to ensure your success.

If your tank starts to run low do you have a system in place to stop for a quick refuel mid-day? Have you built that into your routine? Leaky tanks occur when we least expect it.

Not only do you need to plan for the unexpected, you need to put yourself on a maintenance plan. Keep your engine tuned. Tune into what your body and mind are telling you. If you feel depleted day after day, that’s a warning sign. Listen to the symptoms and start making the necessary changes. If your energy level feels leveraged, you’re doing a great job managing the intake and output of your daily energy. Keep up the good work!

And remember ….

Avoidance is typically not a good thing, unless you’re avoiding your old friend, the bad habit. I’m not entirely sure you can avoid a bad habit anyway. It tends to show back up like a boomerang. Which makes me believe the only way to avoid the boomerang effect is to face the facts. Those not so great behaviors tend to creep right back like that unwanted guest.

But there is hope and your hope is not a wish. Your hope to turn your goal into a priority is tied to something objective, factual and scientific. When you use systems and scientific approaches and add your motivation, you get results. You’ll lose those old friends, called not so great habits and store boomerangs for real play days.

You’ll have time and energy to focus on whatever is important to you. If you’re not sure what that is, you can figure that out by running a few filters. You are looking for the 20% that’s getting you 80% of your results. That’s where you need to focus your efforts. Next, you’d align your time and energy to those efforts and manage your F.U.E.L. so you can maximize your mpg (movement on priority gains).

Then before you know it, that old friend of yours, the boomeranged habit, that competed for your time and attention will finally vanish. In its place you’ve created a focused system and process to help you achieve your goal, your priority. What happened to that boomerang? It lost its power to return. How? Because you put your energy elsewhere. You put it on what matters most. You and your priority!

Kimberly Sheldahl is a Practical Priorities™ coach and Full Focus Planner, Certified Pro. She is Certified in Talent Optimization (Predictive Index) and in the science of Conation (the innate way people solve problems -Kolbe™) She enjoys helping others get focused on their goals and will soon launch her mini course, “Ditch Competing Priorities for Completed Priorities.”

If you are interested in learning more about saving time and energy so you can focus on your priorities, follow Kimberly here on Medium and she’ll let you know when Module 1 is available!

You can follow Kim on Facebook @ The Practical Prioritizer and on Linked In where she writes her Newsletter, Practical Priorities.



Kimberly Sheldahl

Chief Priority Strategist |Practical Priorities™ | Certified, Predictive Index ™ & Kolbe™ | Full Focus Planner Certified Pro™|Health Coach