About breaking the chain

28 Mar 2015

Reading time: 4 minutes

So yesterday I failed to write a blog post.

I’ve been trying to write a blog post. A habit I wanted to fulfil so much I even wrote a post in advance on to post on my wedding anniversary.

So how come I broke the chain yesterday? Visualise your habit ====================

Daily I’ve been trying to visualise every moment when I would attain my habit. For habits where you avoid something like coffee I tried to think about those moments when it’s most tempting - in a coffee shop / just after arriving at work. Then try to think how to displace your bad habit - visualise the act of having an alternative.

When it came to the blog post I tried to think about the moment I would write my next post. What did I have to achieve before doing that? (put kids down, cook dinner, tidy kitchen - then you can start) and don’t get side-tracked (am I achieving all of these tasks? No? then it’s time to get back on track). Part of this process I also meant I need to think about what to write about.

Know what it takes

Writing about a new post every day is hard. Normally I try to write about relevant things, but sometimes I don’t discover anything. On such days I attempted to find things that were important in recent weeks. Failing that I would try prototyping a new idea. New ideas are incredibly costly to post about - I have taken hours writing some of the posts for things that seemed easy to talk about but the learning process itself takes a very long time.

If you know how long a blog post takes daily, you know what to expect. Normally posts take me 30 mins if I really know what I’m going to say upfront, and over 2 hours if I am trying to work it out as I go along.

Just do it

On some days I’ve struggled to find anything, and I’ve felt put-off about writing anything. The best thing to do is to think of something tiny, and just do it. It may seem stupid, but a short post written on something seemingly obvious is 100% better than no post at all.

Yesterday I visualised my next post. I had a full day at work and then was due to go to an event straight afterwards. I had identified 2 separate occasions where 1) I would be commuting and 2) I would be preparing to go out and selected both as possible moments to perform the blog post.

Be Realistic

Would I realistically get my laptop out on a short train journey during peak commuting hours, with colleagues, luggage and with no access to internet and successfully write a post? Could I write a post while getting ready? No both cases are unrealistic.

Be Specific

If you have a choice of 2 moments to perform your habit, then you are likely going to defer the choice to the second - and if that’s less realistic you have failed to achieve your habit.

Break the chain

Hey - sometimes it’s alright. You have put effort into the previous days but there is a moment when you need to tell yourself it’s okay - just make an exception. I thought about the post yesterday and I decided that I was happy to break the chain.

Start again

The most important part of breaking the chain is to start the chain up the very next opportunity you have. So many people fall into a terrible hole and decide that if they fail at a task it’s pointless to continue, and actually if you start right away it’s far easier to get back in the habit, rather than waiting until next week or next month. If you break the chain 2 days running you’ve just started a negative habit not a positive one!

I would also like to shout out to couch.me - a very simple habit tracking tool is so simple and effective when tracking your daily habits.