A few weeks ago, I shared a post called “Don’t Break the Chain.” I had just started a few new habits. Daily blogging and meditating, and wanted to encourage myself not to give up. It had been a long day, and at that point in my habit, it would have been very easy to let one day off turn into six months (as has happened before).
But, I also want to note that the opposite of my own advice can also be true. I do have a couple of virtuous streaks going in my life right now. Over 50 days of consecutive blogging. 31 days of reaching my fitbit daily step goal (which is a record for me). Meditating daily for 43 days.
I’m very proud of these things because I they represent some major learnings in self-care on my part. A year ago, I could not have imagined committing to a daily blog. I would have thought it would be taking too much from my kids, from my business, from my husband. That is wrong. I find that daily blogging, exercise, and meditation are kind of basic steps to fill up my personal gas tank so there’s actually more to go around (which should not be surprising to me, but is).
However, I’m also aware of a couple of pitfalls of having a streak going.
- The chain can get heavy.
This is strongly related to my feelings about Leaving the Zoo while you’re still having fun. If keeping a streak going gets in the way of having fun (ex: if I feel like I can’t take a road trip because I might not reach my step goal and break the streak), then my step goal on my fitbit is getting in the way of my life rather than enhancing it.
Last night, I wanted to share a post I’ve been thinking about for awhile about why I think we should all quit Amazon prime. But…that post is not ready (also, I’m not sure that’s good advice). I could have stayed up very late figuring it out, but I’ve also really been enjoying Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart by Alice Walker, and was happy to briefly share a little about that collection of poetry instead.
Yesterday I chose to keep the chain going, but if it’s heavy, I can let it go.
- The habit can get stale.
Sometimes, it can be valuable to “go through the motions.” “Fake it til you make it” is not the worst advice I’ve ever received in my life. Sometimes, you do move through a slump and sooner or later you find yourself on the other side.
But, if a habit is getting stale, sometimes a day off or a planned break can be just the thing to reinvigorate your habit so you can come back to it with joy and energy.
- Don’t confuse a missed step for the end
Sooner or later I know I’m going to miss a day. As I mentioned, I know from experience that a missed day can turn into a missed month (or months), but it doesn’t have to. A missed day can just be a missed day.
I feel like there are some things that can and perhaps should be muddled through (childbirth comes to mind). But there are other things that can be paused and returned to with joy and energy when we’re ready. Just as Mari Kondo advises with our things in life, we can look at our habits and streaks and ask ourselves whether or not it sparks joy. That is a good way to know if we’re keeping a chain going because we want to or because we don’t know how to stop.