A Day Without an X

Not Breaking the Chain

Previously, in my blog post Homebrew Daily, I referred to the habit building technique that requires you to keep track of each day that you devote to building the habit.  This can be done by marking an X on the calendar, thereby building a chain of days which you psychologically do not want to break.  It is a great method.
Not stated in that blog post, but something I started on that same day, was learning Norwegian on Duolingo.  According to Duolingo, I’m on a 66 day streak today.  
However, I started this 67 days ago. I missed a day.  
I also missed a day of my Homebrew Daily ritual.  

The Day Without the X

On my last blog post, I wrote about choosing your suffering.  I wrote about how I chose to suffer through a 100 mile bike ride one Saturday.  What I didn’t write about, was that on that same day, I couldn’t mark an X on the calendar. I missed studying Norwegian. I missed learning anything about homebrewing. 
Somewhere between 20 and 30 miles into the bike ride, my phone died. Even using it in airplane mode, my phone went to the dark side.  Little did I know, it would be for good.  
Upon finishing the bike ride over an hour later than I thought I would (I took a wrong turn at one point that took me 5 miles out of my way), I was not going to make the 6 pm dinner that Erin and I had planned with friends Ed and Mary in Lawrence.  
I was able to shower at the facility where we started the ride, and get on my way.  However, my phone would not charge. Not only could I not contact Erin to let her know I was OK, but I couldn’t ask for directions to Ed and Mary’s place. Although I had been there twice, and could have probably got myself in the general vicinity, I didn’t know exactly where it was. 
Using someone’s phone at the first gas station I pulled into in Lawrence, I let them know everything was fine and got directions. 
There was much fun and wine drinking at the dinner party.  Eventually, it was determined that we should stay the night instead of driving back to Topeka.  
Up until that point, I had a plan of working from my iPad or desktop computer as soon as I had arrived back home to complete my daily habit ritual. I began thinking of alternatives. Maybe I could ask to borrow their computer for a little while?  
Or maybe I shouldn’t worry about it.  Maybe I’ve built a great habit, and am going to stick with it, and don’t need another X in a calendar day to do that. Maybe I should enjoy the moment that has been dealt to me.  
Perhaps we should allow ourselves a “Weekend Amulet” that can be used to put a temporary freeze on your streak of days.  You remember those days when you did a little extra work building your habit?  Maybe you were earning yourself “lingots” that can be used to purchase “Streak Freeze Amulets” for when they are needed.  
It is important to completely own a great new habit that you have built.  But it is probably just as important for that habit not to own you.  

One thought on “A Day Without an X

  1. “It is important to completely own a great new habit that you have built. But it is probably just as important for that habit not to own you.”

    I agree completely. “Don't break the chain” is super useful, but it's crucial to remember the the chain isn't the point; it's just a tool. Skill development is the point.

    Great post!


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