CW: technically self-harm
This goal represents a major personal victory. I started it in 2016 to combat a nervous tic involving my lips (perlèche). It’s become a mindless act, a way to cope with stress and, basically, a totally compulsive and unconscious behavour. I derailed once and didn’t keep up with it. In spring of 2019 I thought I’d have the perfect excuse to stop touching my face. But even an (at the time) very scary disease such as COVID-19 was not enough of a deterrent.
I restarted the goal in September 2021. I may have been feeling a little less stressed than usual and I was cautiously restarting my Beeminder goals, keeping to 3 active goals if I recall correctly. In the first 6 weeks I was thinking about this goal every minute of the day. Maybe it doesn’t look like it, but business-as-usual would’ve made me derail instantly. Those little steps in the graph felt like great accomplishments. But still I had some days where I had to add multiple data points.
I played around with the slope, increasing it pretty quickly when I got scared, but later dialled it down again. Getting closer to the bright line, apparently I dialled it up a little, but, somehow, I ended up on #day0 of an almost 4-month streak now. Probably in the second week or so, I added hashtags to the previous days’ data points, but in the third week I added some all the way up to #day100. Those served as markers of my progress and probably helped a little to keep up the habit. At the time I was also doing the Hammertime sequence and posting in the gratitude journal. All things that may have made me more mindful and could have contributed to my success.
Along the way I’ve been dialling the goal down. I really hope this becomes a never-will-I-ever type of goal. So far it seems I have successfully kicked a 20-year old habit and I couldn’t be more pleased!
I almost forgot, but around #day0 I created a companion goal recording every time I even touched my lips. This goal was really necessary when starting out to remove any ambiguity about what was actual lip-picking. It also allowed me to record (using 0 datapoints) whenever I used lip balm or even lip scrub. The latter is something I’d never used before and which I can probably attribute some of my initial success to. When the urge was extremely great to pick at some dry skin, I could get rid of it with the scrub. In general, I think this is a habit that gets easier to kick once you stop doing it and vice-versa.
Now I’m letting pessimistic presumptive datapoints run up my graph up to the bright red line to stay mindful of it. But it’s clear it’s no longer really useful or necessary.
PS: COVID-19 in mind and mostly scared of ending up with a replacement behaviour, I’ve created goals to stop touching other parts of my face, such as my brows, which can get a little dry at times, …