Snowballs always start small
What a year of journaling taught me about myself and life
I started journaling exactly a year ago. At the time, it was something I had tried several times in my life and failed horribly at. I could never manage it consistently for any sustained period of time. The longest I ever went was about three weeks and I could only manage it every other day.
So coming into this season, I had mixed feelings about my prospects. But I have pulled through. 365 days. Not all of them though. I missed a handful of days here and there — this upset me a lot at first, but I eventually got over it. So today, I’m taking a moment to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
This is not an attempt at a “how to” post or a listicle. Nor am I making a case for journaling or trying to hand out indispensable life advice. Now that we’ve established that, here goes.
- Streaks are important — they help you build momentum. Streaks are almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy or a virtuous cycle (possibly vicious). The more you do, the more you’ll do…and on and on.
- Building streaks don’t require starting big…snowballs usually start as fistfuls. The idea is to keep at it. I have mused often about the importance of consistency over intensity
- The streak will break. It may take one year, it may take ten, but nothing lasts forever. Forgive yourself quickly and get back on the grind. In the end, the days you show up will matter more than the days you miss — as long as you keep showing up.
- Missed days look like a big deal in the moment, but when you expand your perspective and take a longer horizon, 10 missed days in 365 are actually immaterial. Remember, consistency not perfection.
- The barest minimum is almost always better than nothing. In a long race, a step forward is better than quitting.
- For those struggling with building good habits, it really does get easier with time. What time means is different for each person.
- Your environment matters. Set it up to aid you because will-power and self-discipline will always run out. On those days, you will need the assistance of a thoughtfully designed support system
- If I find the person who started the whole 21/30 day habit forming spiel, I will punch him in the face. There is no fixed formula. Show up and do the “work”