My husband came home from a business trip in early January with a twinkle in his eye. He was telling me about his trip. “And,” he said dramatically, “this guy I met is writing a book, and you’ll never guess what it is called?” He looked at me expectantly. I shrugged and raised my arms, “I give up! What is it?”
“Streaking!” he said triumphantly.
I said, “Seriously?” Visions of naked people running across football fields during my teenage years flashed before me.
He said, “Yes. Seriously. Streaking—as in building a habit without…ever…breaking…a… day. You figure out a “streak” that you won’t ever break. You are building a habit. It’s the principle of consistency . Jeff Downs, the guy with the big idea, is in the process of writing his book. He said there are three rules.”
- It has to be laughingly simple
- You must keep score
- Find a community
Laughingly simple means it is so easy it can be done everyday. Keeping score means marking a calendar, and a community can be your family, or a running group or an online forum.
Jeff’s three streaks are:
- Flossing his teeth—evidently he had periodontal disease and wanted to improve his flossing habits.
- Writing one sentence a day for his book. He has been doing this for 3 years now and has 12 chapters.
- Running 1 mile everyday with his wife. They are on their 900th-something day. I said, “Even on Christmas? Even on Sunday?” Craig smiled and shrugged yes.
I was intrigued.
So my first streak is organizing 5 minutes a day. Anything that needs to be organized in my house, car, or purse. On Sundays I do family history organization. I started on January 5, 2018. It has been a powerful help. I have focused on my armoire in my study that used to house stacks of papers to go through. This organizing streak has changed it to a helpful piece of storage where I can keep relevant paperwork, office supplies and other things I work on right now. If I am out-of-town I can organize my genealogy online.
My second streak is working on sewing , jewelry, photos or my aunt’s papers which are stored in my sewing room. On Sundays I work on my aunt’s genealogy papers. If I am gone from home, I can bring something to work on. I started on January 6, 2018.
And I ended both last Sunday!
Darn! It’s because I only did step one. I realized on Monday that Sunday I hadn’t done it partly because I switch up the streaks a little bit on Sunday. I also wasn’t marking it on a calendar or on my phone. And I didn’t look for a community. I asked my husband, “What would Jeff do?” He told me Jeff says there is no judgement. Just acknowledge that you broke the streak and strengthen rules 2 and 3. Jeff said if you create a lot of drama around breaking the streak it is a barrier to getting started again.
So I restarted my 2 streaks on Monday, January 22nd, 2018 and added a third streak of family scripture study of one scripture a day with my son until he goes on his mission. I am marking it on my calendar and my community right now is my family. I am going to share my progress with them.
Think how brilliant this is for children. I would make sure it is something they want to do. They can pick something simple that they want to improve on, and you can help them print a calendar to keep track and put it in a prominent place. They can report to your family on their progress. Jeff Downs told Craig that when he ran out of dental floss for his first streak, his kids helped him scour the house to find some so he could continue. That excitement and intent is powerful for his children to learn–helping their Dad succeed with his goal.
Anything that can help build grit and perseverance in our children will be helpful. I like the simplicity of streaking, and the building of a positive habit that can propel a person forward. My sewing/jewelry/genealogy papers streak has also yielded great dividends. The hardest thing is to start something. Streaking allows you to jump in again everyday. I often stay longer than the 5 minutes I have allotted, and I know I am making headway in something that needs finishing. What is something you could streak about? Something that quietly builds into a powerful habit that will make your life better?