A recent blog post from Seth Godin, entitled Streaks, celebrated his 11th year of daily posts. That’s over 4000 days in a row of writing and posting. That’s a helluva streak.
A couple more streaks came to mind after reading about Seth’s. The husband of someone I work with has run every day since 1989. He hasn’t missed a day. That’s almost 11,000 days. I’m in a writing group with a man who has ridden his bike to work every day for 11 years. I know people who have given up something entirely – for years – creating equally impressive streaks.
Streaks like these are admirable, fascinating, and clearly represent outliers in any category. I wonder about what drives such individuals. Is it desire? Purpose? And at what point does a streak become more a part of who you are and your way of being, versus simply something you do out of habit?
How many of us can identify with struggling to do something new for even just several days in a row? We want to drink more water, eat more vegetables, get more exercise, go to bed earlier, spend less time in the digital world, organize our time better, journal, meditate, read…the list of “do more ___” can feel endless.
Something pushes us to start – maybe the risk of doing nothing doesn’t sit well – and we’ll hang in there for a whole week. Maybe two. Ever made it 30 days with something new? Or 6 weeks? After that, only a very small percentage make it longer.
Consistency with anything can be tough with a life full of demands on our time. It can be really challenging to nudge ourselves out of old routines and find the time (or even just remember) to do something new on a daily basis. There is both an art and a science to starting new and building a streak.
With that in mind, a big takeaway from Seth’s post might be this:
“…once a commitment is made to a streak, the question shifts from “should I blog tomorrow” to “what will tomorrow’s blog say”?
Clearly he is directing his post to those who write, but the underlying principle can be applied to just about anything. When you want to build a streak (which is to say – be consistent) make your commitment to do something and then shift your daily narrative to address How or What.
Now you can invest your daily decision energy in executing the commitment. You are no longer arguing (with yourself) the basic premise of will I, can I, or should I. Now you can get creative; how will I get some exercise today, how will I eat well today, what time will I go to bed tonight (lights out), which stretches do I need most today to offset all that sitting I did, etc.
Commit. Then start. Practice creates habits. And habits create results. Some days will allow for more than others. (Some of Seth’s blog posts are only a few sentences long.) Consistency is essential in habit building, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that small progress isn’t still progress.
Seth goes on to say:
“…once you’ve made that shift, it’s 100x easier to find the voice that you’re looking for.”
We all like “easier”. And with a streak like his, I’m going to bet he knows what he’s talking about.