Never Miss Twice

A lifelong procrastinator, I've spent the last couple of years aggressively trying to correct that character flaw, consulting countless productivity articles, forums, books, and blogs along the way.

Throughout my "research" (really just another form of procrastination), one book was consistently recommended: Atomic Habits by James Clear.

I'll admit Clear's title made me think of atomic blast, of gearing up for large, explosive, life-altering changes. But it's meant to evoke the exact opposite: changes made at the atomic level, almost imperceptible on their own, but which over time add up to create lifelong habits.

Much of Clear's advice was familiar to me--there are only so many productivity tricks and the effective ones tend to be repeated pretty frequently--but I was struck by one of the new-to-me ideas in his book: never miss twice.

Never miss twice is, for me, a revolutionary concept in habit-forming. It essentially is what it sounds like--when forming a new habit, it's okay to miss one day, but not two in a row. It contains both expectation and forgiveness, creating an emotional environment where success isn't tied to perfection, making it far easier to achieve.

It's simple, but it truly is a new idea for me! Every other productivity resource I've read has emphasized the dogma of never faltering consistency with pseudo-inspirational mantras like "every damn day!" or "never break the chain" that only serve to kill any semblance of motivation when the human beings relying on them inevitably slip just once.

But never miss twice acknowledges the inevitability of imperfection without killing momentum. You missed the gym today? Okay, that just means it's extra important for you to go tomorrow.

As someone who is frequently paralyzed by perfectionism (hey, if I never start a project, I can't finish it, which means there will never be anything wrong with it), I've all too often abandoned my goals because of a few missed days. Two hundred and four days of meditation turned into no self-care of any kind for two months because I missed a day, broke my streak and hated myself for it.

That was largely due to a productivity echo chamber, which emphasized that habits only count if you do them every single day no matter what. But doing something five days a week instead of seven doesn't suddenly make it useless (in some cases, like high-impact cardio or weight training, it actually makes it more effective).

I still struggle with procrastination and I likely always will, but giving myself permission to miss once in a while without torpedoing all of my progress has made a world of difference in how I approach my goals.


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