I took one look at my watch and I burst into tears.
It was 2am and I had just woken up in bed.
No, I wasn’t crying about a disaster. There was no death in the family or natural disaster.
I was crying about steps.
You see, this was during the time that I was committed to taking 10,000 steps a day. At this point I had done it for 200+ days in a row, pacing my kitchen when it rained or doing laps late at night in a nearby parking lot.
I had been out with friends that night and saw that I had 9,700 steps. I knew I was close and would hit my goal. No problem.
But I didn’t. And so I broke the streak.
In the grander scheme of things, of course, it wasn’t worth crying about. But man it felt bad in the moment.
My negative (over)reaction begged the question: what’s a good break? Why do some breaks feel good and some feel so bad?
- Good breaks are intentional. I had been considering when I would stop hitting my step goal since winters in Portland are wet. I knew the day would come when I would stop, but I resented myself because I didn’t stop intentionally.
- Good breaks serve a distinct purpose. They help you recharge or give you extra time serving your highest goals. I can skip a workout without remorse when my family flies across the country to see me because spending time with them serves one of my deepest goals.
- The exception: good breaks happen for truly rare occasions. Are there exceptions to the above? Absolutely. Sometimes you have something wonderful (or terrible) come up that is genuinely unusual. I missed my writing last week after a weekend away in which I got engaged. My break had zero intention (surprise!) or predetermined purpose, but I’m glad I had space and let myself off the hook.
Yes, some breaks feel better than others. But the bottom line is this: you can’t keep it up all the time.
Designing your breaks with intention and purpose can make you feel better about them and help you serve your top goals. And when those rare occasions pop up, let them happen.
To being better without feeling guilty for that Kit Kat bar,