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This morning I felt something was off, and it had been a little off for days. My normal schedule has been a bit disrupted by work opportunities, and I knew something was missing, but what was it?
After two years of consistently doing weight exercises two-three times per week, I realized I hadn’t touched a weight in two weeks. Ellie and I were still walking, but my follow up with weights evaporated because of three consecutive days of early calls. I hadn’t even noticed.
Disruptions happen as easily as that. Maybe it’s a short or long-term work schedule change, or holidays, or family and friends visiting. It could be injury or illness, a mood, frustration, depression, or other upset. Something throws us off our routine, and we detour on nutrition or exercise.
One of the strategies of getting back on track is the same as habit formation: Creating “the streak.” The streak is simply stringing together several days of doing something and continuing until the habit forms.
Creating the Streak:
Twice each day, I file an accountability form as it helps me with my goals. It takes a minute, but the result for me has been good. I do well with external accountability.
Initially, I depended on automated reminder emails and strung together a week or so. Then somehow the emails stopped getting through, and I hadn’t noticed. I nearly blew it off then as my streak was broken, but again, I know I do well with accountability. I tweaked my strategy, then tweaked again until it worked. Every day since August –weekends and holidays as well – I’ve filed the daily, weekly, and monthly forms.
When something detours your practice, tweak the strategy. Be as objective as you can, using all the tools at your disposal. What will make it easiest at first to create the streak? What needs to be out of sight, what needs to be in plain sight, where should I alter my path? What temptations do you foresee, what do you need to plan around, and from whom can I ask support? We’re all different, so find the key for you, then intentionally do that for a week. Then two. Then three. You’ll create a streak of habits and choices that will take you toward your goal.
Most importantly, if you find yourself on a detour, get back to the on-ramp as soon as possible, but DO NOT beat yourself up. We don’t need that kind of pressure. Just steer to the on-ramp and create another streak.