Breaking the Streak, and Starting a New One


Streak by Velvet Elevator (Pandy Farmer), on Flickr

I broke my streak this week. I kept it up for 19 days, and as soon as I missed one day, I missed three. Funny how that works. But now I’m going again. What is it with streaks?

Let me explain. My fabulous coach, Berni Xiong, has turned me on to a lovely site called It harks back to my days writing longhand journals as part of my exploration of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I love that book and am seriously thinking of devoting a set of newsletters to it (you’ll have to subscribe to the newsletter to see all of that, although I will probably post the odd snippet for you holdouts).

One of the best exercises in Julia’s book is The Morning Pages. Every morning when you wake up, you are supposed to write three pages of thoughts, musings, grocery lists, grumpiness, whatever is in your mind gets spit out onto the page. I did this for quite a long time, but then I stopped. Not because it wasn’t useful, but somehow … maybe I finished a notebook and neglected to buy another one … I’m not even sure why I stopped.

Back to Berni. She suggested As enthusiastically as I do most new things, I charged right into it. I’m a very fast touch typist, and as long as I’m not interrupted, I can spew out 750 words in fifteen minutes or less (I believe my record is eleven minutes – the site keeps that kind of statistics for you, part of the fun!). I didn’t always do it in the morning, as I found it unsatisfactory to be picking my words out on my phone and didn’t have time to get the laptop up before school mayhem started. But I did it on Friday afternoons before Shabbat, and late on Saturday nights after Shabbat. I did it every day for nineteen days, and I loved all the encouraging words that appeared on the site, telling me about my streak and urging me to keep it up.

Then, on a Thursday that my daughter had a couple of friends over, I didn’t do it. I broke my streak. Then I didn’t do it on Friday. Then I was online late at night after Shabbat on Saturday, but 750 Words was not part of my routine.

Just like that, a habit that I’d faithfully followed for 19 days was gone. They say it takes 21 days to create a habit (FlyLady says more like 28 days for distracted folks like me). I didn’t quite make it. Am I doomed?

Here’s the good news. I went on 750 Words this morning early, in the quiet when everyone was still asleep. I wrote my words. There were three reproachful blanks in my tally, but I put them behind me. I’ve signed up for the July Challenge – to try and write every single day, including before and after Shabbat, for the month of July. My first streak was broken, but I’m about to create a new one.

How about you, does this behaviour ring any bells? Do you start enthusiastic streaks and then break them? What do you do to keep yourself going when the initial burst of energy is gone?

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8 Responses to “Breaking the Streak, and Starting a New One”

  1. Asdis Says:

    Uhm… yes, I can break a streak after 15 weeks and then need another 4 weeks to get going again. Every time I bug myself (internally) about it and then do nothing. That’s all in all what it’s about for me. Just do it, is the sentence that I need to get out of my funk. No matter what the issue is, I just need to do it. And once I do it, it’s pretty easy to get going with a new streak.

  2. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    Yeah, external motivation like a streak is really not strong unless you have some way of keeping it going …

    The July Challenge has all kinds of silliness like putting your name on the Wall of Awesomeness if you do it, and on the Wall of Shame if you don’t. That so doesn’t work for me … I think I’m becoming more like my mother as I get older ;-). I find that I care less and less about what people think, unless said people have reason to be important to me. Not that I ever cared much before …
    Hadass Eviatar recently posted…Breaking the Streak, and Starting a New OneMy Profile

  3. Asdis Says:

    Exactly! It really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. It’s one of those enlightened changes that come with age. Not that we’re old in any way.

  4. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    Especially you, Asdis! In my mind you will be 23 forever … even as our children inch towards adulthood … now you are just 23 *with* wisdom! 😉
    Hadass Eviatar recently posted…Breaking the Streak, and Starting a New OneMy Profile

  5. Asdis Says:

    I can hardly go for 23 today 😉 but I’ve met people in the past months who don’t believe I’m over 30. I think those people may need strong glasses 😉 My daughter might catch up with me age-wise sometime in the next few years!

  6. Kaila (@MissSkinnyGenes) Says:

    Habits are a pain in the rear–to establish AND to break. And why is it that we always break the ones we want to keep and keep the ones we want to break?

    You’re not alone in being a streak breaker, but I can guarantee that you’re one of the few who has the humility and the gumption to both admit it publicly and then get back up on the horse.

    Keep on writing–we’re cheering for you!

    Kaila (@MissSkinnyGenes) recently posted…(Mental) Fitness Friday: Taking LeapsMy Profile

  7. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    Awww, thanks Kaila! Writing about my own imperfections guarantees a never-ending source of material ;-). <3 you too!

  8. Jaap den Dulk Says:

    Thank you Hadass,

    I’m on the shame wall for the june challenge. Joining you today for another fame inscription in July!

    Excellent piece of inspiration. Had a 220 day streak and a ten day holiday did give me plenty of excuses to stumble. See you at 750words!
    Jaap den Dulk recently posted…Five simple tools to find your voiceMy Profile

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