Do you like to streak? If you’ve never done it before, you should try it. Streaking is very liberating. There’s no better way to enliven your spirits and get unstuck than letting it all hang out with a good streak.
I’m not referring to the type of streak that has you running naked through the neighborhood one night after a few too many. Although no judgment here if that’s your thing.
In this case I’m talking about streaks of repeated, consistent behavior. A pattern of doing the same thing every day. A streak maintained long enough becomes a habit, practically second nature. All of us live by streaks, both positive and negative ones. Streaks of personal hygiene, like showering or brushing our teeth, are the most obvious. Although for many of us such streaks took a hit during the lockdown.
It’s been said that we are what we do. Our actions define us. And our actions largely are the products of our habits. Unfortunately, bad habits are much easier to acquire and maintain than good ones. Anyone who has ever tried to diet or wake up early to exercise can relate.
The idea of using streaks as a framework to developing new habits is not a new concept. Many people have written about it before. (Seth Godin is one of my favorites on this topic.) In my own experience I’ve found that the people who are successful at changing persistent bad or unwanted habits are those who approach the process from a “streaker’s perspective.”
To be clear, a streak is a daily commitment. Telling yourself that you’re going to get in better shape by going to the gym three times a week is fine, but that’s not a true streak. For something to become second nature you must think in terms of daily habits.
For those who say that’s impossible given the time pressures of work, home and family, it’s important to remember that an exercise streak can start with a commitment to stretch 10 minutes a day. Making a change to your daily routine, even if it’s only a small one at first, is far and away the most effective strategy to changing your habits for the better.
Tracking your streaks is critical. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Even if your tracking system initially is just an X mark on the calendar, it’s an important tool for holding yourself accountable.
I realize committing to do something daily sounds daunting. In my experience it’s best to break it down into smaller increments. Can I get up earlier to write every day for a month? Or promising yourself to take a short walk in the evenings for the next two weeks to jump start an exercise program. Doing it with a friend or family member helps, especially in the beginning when our accountability may be fragile.
And you will miss days, it’s inevitable. In my case, readers of this blog may have noticed I haven’t published as much lately. Enjoying the beautiful weather outdoors on the weekends and other projects have disrupted my streak of writing daily.
This is where tracking your results can be so powerful. Seeing a streak of 10 or 20 days in a row from the past will remind you that you know how to build momentum. Just start again.
The concept of streaks is critical for our careers, especially these days. Business is changing so rapidly. To stay competitive and relevant we need to be constantly evolving. You can’t get comfortable with change unless you have a program in place to change yourself. While some may say it’s not something you need to address daily, I disagree. We are the product of our habits, and the strongest, most enduring habits are those we practice every day.
No question, streaking can be a grind but it’s also the best way to take control of our behaviors. Perhaps forming better habits is not as much fun as a good old fashion streak around the block, but I think my neighbors would be eternally grateful if I kept my clothes on the next time I decide to take a midnight jog.