Day 23 and Don't Break the Chain


Great night sleep, good wakeup

Don’t Break the Chain is a simple, minimalistic online attempt at habit formation, based on a technique allegedly used by Jerry Seinfeld. He would post up a big calendar, and draw a big red X through every day he wrote. The only thing he had to worry about is, well -  not breaking the chain.

This Lifehacker post talks about applying it to more than just writing comedy. The idea is to do little bits of a project every day, and that is cumulatively more helpful that short intense bursts that may not lead anywhere. 

I definitely like it as a simple motivator and its relationship to habit formation. 750 words uses this by keeping track of the unbroken chain of days you have written - and at large amounts you get special badges. And the fact Fitocracy doesn’t do this is one of the things I dislike about it.

What I don’t like is that it is natural to miss days, and the next day, getting back on the bandwagon is incredibly difficult. If missing days is an inevitable, then getting back to the routine to continue the action is the most critical point of the entire endeavor - and it should be rewarded.

Our habits and our completion of goals is more contingent on what we do in our moments of weakness than on the moments of strength.

When we are we weak and “break the chain” that is the point when all our demons come out, telling us that it’s not worth doing anymore, that we can give up because we’ve already given up, that we are now justified in failure. 

I feel an optimal gamified program has to reward not just good behavior, but good behavior in weakness. That truth is the heart of all difficult endeavors.