The last few days I’ve been pretty lacking in self discipline. It inevitably occurs, and the most important thing is to get back on the horse when you feel better after some rest. I’m getting pretty good at that.

But are there ways to continue with behaviors?

In an older post - “Day 546 & Theorizing on Springiness in Mastery Cycling”-   I talked about what I called a shelf (Though I want to call them ledges now, because it reminds me of the rock climbing porto-ledges which seems more apt for climbing towards a far away goal). I describe this as a basic minimum dose that you can rest on while dealing with other behaviors.

For example, with TinyHabits a basic mini dose for working out may be 2 pushups. Great - it’s normal for you to do because it’s so easy. But you will want to stretch that task - 3x10 pushups, then cardio and pushups, then weight lifting and cardio and pushups.  You have to get to a ledge on which you can rest your behavior as a habit.


Because if you are stacking multiple habits that need a push to mastery you run the risk of continually being depleted of Will/Endurance/Grit if your previous behaviors can’t rest somewhere (assuming you are trying to have a regimented system where you’re running several behaviors to mastery rather than just one at a time).

What does this have to do with ego depletion?

If you want to squeeze out every last instance of a behavior by treading the line of too much willpower depletion and just enough, I believe enacting the previous daily minimum would do that.

Think of the ledges as gears and periods of, for whatever reason, high willpower leakage as being a higher inclination. When you know that’s what is happening, downshift - go to the lower instance of the behavior.

For example, I’m currently trying to shift from my tiny rowing habit of 5 minutes to 10. It’s been going fine - I’ve actually been doing 15 minutes in the beginning of the week (which is one of the reasons I’m probably slacking today). When I feel that I’m exhausted, I can downshift to 5 minutes of rowing and other lower instances of other habits.

There’s that oft repeated saying in self-help - “2 steps forward, one step back”. I haven’t tried this yet, but to me it seems like the practical application of this.