You’re a king when it comes to building habits. You’ve set out to do something good for yourself and you’re doing well and feeling confident. Nothing can go wrong.
But after two weeks without a single drink, you bend to peer pressure on day 15 and have a bottle of wine with a few friends.
Or after journalling every night for the last year, you unintentionally fall asleep and miss a day.
Or you’ve been running every morning for the last 30 days, but on day 31, you sprained your ankle in the backyard and can’t run for a full week and a half.
It’s bound to happen. Eventually, a day will come when you miss a day of a habit you are cultivating. Whether you are working on a daily habit or doing a 30-habit challenge, it’s almost inevitable that something will throw us off the bandwagon. But this is okay if we plan for it. The key is not panicking and throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Here are 3 things we can do when we mess up our habit(s):
1. Don’t Give Up
When you’re cultivating a daily habit, missing a day sucks (especially if you break a great streak), but it’s not the end of the world. Backsliding isn’t an excuse to quit. A moment of weakness is just that—a single moment. Simple errors or mistakes aren’t worth giving up something that brings us joy and we find meaning in.
2. Remember Why you Started the Habit
The goal of any good habit is ultimately the benefits it brings us in the long term, not necessarily the immediate experiences. Sure, after a couple of weeks of eating healthy, we might feel more vibrant and energized, but it’s also making us stronger and healthy over our entire lifetime. Stopping now would only be causing us issues in the future.
For me, Writing is a good example. Writing every day is a way I can challenge myself to improve and come up with new ideas. Things I’ve written a year ago might not be worth reading anymore, but each idea builds on to the next.
3. Work Our Resilience Muscles
Don’t think of missing a day as a failure, but as a way to challenge ourselves and find a way around problems. Sprain your ankle? Visualize a run instead until you’re back on your feet. Visualize as if your life depends on it. Or start exercising your upper body instead. Whatever barrier you’re facing, there’s likely some clever way around/through/under it.