Depending on how I chose to look at it, I could have been on either Day 7 or Day 16.
I’ve been using the Lift app to track my days, and while I have 16 check-ins since I started this challenge, I actually missed about four days of writing. I had a 7-day streak going when Toku and I took a trip to Seattle last weekend.
Having broke the first streak and started a new one, I decided to “start over” in a sense.
So as of this posting I’m on Day 7 of that new streak.
In last week’s post where I declared my commitment to this challenge, I shared my fear of doing just this, of not trusting myself to make it past the first few days.
We define our own terms of success, and from how I look at it, I had a victory even though I broke the streak. In the beginning, I didn’t think I would make it past Day 3 of this challenge, yet I managed to make it to Day 7 on the first go around. Even if I didn’t go all the way, I still exceeded my expectations.
My goal for this next streak is to make it to Day 8, at least one more than my last streak.
For New Year’s 2014 I announced on this blog that I was going to write for 365 straight days. I wanted to write every day for the entire year, which is crazy ambitious. But I wanted to challenge myself to write every day.
I did it for about 10 days before I broke my streak. I felt like a huge dumbass. I felt like I made a fool of myself in front of my audience. I didn’t finish something I said I would do.
It’s a little different this time around, and here’s why:
- Room to screw it all up. If I were perfect, then I wouldn’t be doing this challenge to begin with. So it’s only natural that I’m going to make mistakes along the way. It’s not so terrible if I break the streak.
- A little ol’ self-love. I don’t do my best work if I’m being too hard on myself. When I beat myself up and put myself down, the inner critic feels vindicated and becomes empowered by all that self-flagellation. If I want to do my best work, then I need to be kinder to myself.
- Nothing to lose. With the stakes lower, I feel less pressure to succeed. The inherent problem with the 365-day writing streak was that it was all or nothing. There was no room for me to make one single mistake. I couldn’t slip up, not once. I miss one day of write-every-damn-day-in-2014 and all hope is lost. I miss a couple days of 31-straight-days and no biggie. I start over.
It takes a lot of practice not to let that side of the inner critic take over. I mean, it’s so damn convincing. This challenge has taught me that I can take it one day at a time and that I can do a lot with very little.