Some streaks go the distance. The first 21 days of a new habit, new route to work, new personal routine, workout, or eating habit, are often the hardest. But if the goal is to make something permanent, then the first 21 days is just the beginning.
A few weeks ago I started a personal challenge after reading this blog post by Seth Godin. My personal challenge was to begin writing daily again (I used to, but had stopped). I set a reasonable bar for the content: One single concise thought per day. It didn’t have to be an earth shattering treatise, or ground breaking theory, but rather a clear thought on something that I thought was relevant and might resonate with others. I could do this.
I’ve missed a few days.
So, what happens when I miss a day or two on a daily challenge?
Past: I used to fall off completely, beat myself up about not being good enough, and once unable to return to the challenge at all, chalk up the entire endeavor as a failure of will, effort, skill, or endurance. It was all my fault. I was a failure.
Present: Enter grace. Grace doesn’t change the bar. Nor does it adjust the daily nature of the challenge or the fact that a day was missed. Instead, it intercedes before my missing a day turns into a personal condemnation. Grace says, the fact that I missed a day isn’t necessarily a reflection of my core nature. I am not a failure or fundamentally flawed for missing a day of writing. With some clarity, I notice what might have caused the miss – extra work, lack of rest, not planning well ahead of time, or not noticing some free time during the day I could have taken advantage of. I take note, again, with no condemnation. Then my focus turns to the next day. This now takes all of two minutes.
Grace is amazing.