Wearing dice on my head since 2008 Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart. Randomly amazed.

Don't Break the Chain

· by roy · Read in about 2 min · (308 Words)
Categories: Self-Improvement | Tags:

New year’s resolutions are hard to maintain, so much so that people will make jokes about opening a gym that only runs during January, since most gym NYRs run out of steam by then.

One of the best pieces of advise I’ve read on this is “Don’t break the chain”, most often anecdotally attributed to Jerry Seinfeld. This advice means that for a recurring activity, once you get a streak or chain going, as much as possible you should avoid breaking the chain. So if your NYR is to exercise daily, you should try to avoid breaking that chain for as long as possible.

It helps if you’re tracking how long your current streak is, either via a calendar or an app, or some other method. The longer the streak gets, the more incentivized you are not to drop the ball by breaking the chain. I mentioned this in my Duolingo post - I feel quite bad when I break a months-long streak in Duolingo.

Of course, at some point you’re going to fail, and the streak will break. We’re only human after all, and we don’t have to be on all the time. Failures happen, and that’s okay. If the activity is important to you, it should be a simple matter to simply try again and start the chain over. This is of course, a point of weakness: at the time you break the chain, this is when you are most vulnerable to quitting. That’s why you have to minimize breaking the chain.

Not all NYRs or recurring activities have to go on forever though. Sometimes you just want to do 30-day challenges. Or maybe you want to try this activity for a while to see if it works out for you. No need to push yourself to continue with a chain that you find isn’t worthwhile.