swapping good habits for bad ones

My Dad told me a story once about going for a run every day.

He’d just broken up with his girlfriend, moved to a new town, and started a job he couldn’t stand. To get out of his head, he’d go for a run. He managed to run something like 1,000 days in a row. Every day, for two and a half years, he’d lace up his shoes and race around the neighborhood.

One New Year’s, he stayed out late and drank too much. He woke up with a hangover and didn’t wind up running that day. Breaking his streak was that simple.

He got up the next day and ran. And then day after that. Then he’d skip a day. He’d run two or three days in a row, then skip a day. Eventually, he stopped running altogether.

In my mind, this is a perfect parable about how easy it is to swap a good habit for a bad one. If continuing the streak is the only reason we do something, we must remind ourselves why we started in the first place.