How to respond to your imperfections like a manufacturing facility does.
I am trying to get better all the time. But the reality is that I am not always better.
I’m building good habits. But I still have bad habits too.
I try to be patient and kind. But I still get angry, lose my temper, and say naughty words.
I try to be a doer. But too often I procrastinate. (Although sometimes I don’t procrastinate until later.)
I try not to let my phone take attention away from my family and friends. But then I’ll find something hilarious on social media, or wonder about the Wordle word, or get a notification about the famous person from the 80s who got eaten by a snake, and just have to click on it to find out if it was David Coverdale.
Tell em that it’s human nature.
But I keep trying.
And I don’t let my lesser actions and behaviors define me. Or confirm that I am not actually getting better. I know I am.
Instead, I always think about those signs you see in a factory that count the number of days they have gone without a workplace injury. They are reminders of your accumulated success. And encouragement to keep the streak alive. And presumably the people too.
So I have counters in my head, on my phone, and on pieces of paper around my house tallying my successful days doing or not doing various things. The streaks feel good. So I focus on extending them and not breaking the chain. But when I do, I reset the clock, start again, and try to go longer, if not forever.
Self-improvement is directional. It is not about absolutes. Increase the number of days and times you do the right things the way you want to do them in your head. Do the good things more. Do the bad things less. Focus on building your steaks. A winning streak is an uninterrupted sequence of successes. That should always be your goal. Just keep adding days. Go as long as you can without messing up. The goal is to be better for the rest of your life. But if you break the chain, always start a new chain and try again.
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