Habit I

by zenquaker

I saved up $1,100 to buy myself something nice for my 20th anniversary of quitting drugs at the end this month. But I couldn’t think of anything I wanted (more on this in the next post). I had seen this habit forming online course that sounded interesting, but it cost too much. I finally said to myself “If you can’t think of anything to buy yourself by the end of the week, just take the damn course.” I couldn’t, so I did. The first part of the course is planning, so this is the planning I have done so far:

My new habit is going to be working on my Chess game every day. That is a rather vague habit, which I have been advised against, so I’m going to specify things a bit more. At the begining I will be doing five minutes of tactics problems every day. In the second week I will add five minutes of working on flash cards, both visualization skills and notes from two books I’ve read. I thought about adding more things, like playing games against the computer and then analyzing those games, but I wanted to keep it simple to start. As I add more time to the habit in the later weeks, I will add more time to both tactics problems and flash cards.

The start date for this habit is October 10th (Columbus Day). I am stopping all chess activities until then, including my online games and reading chess blogs and forums. I will still make moves in my games once the habit forming starts, but I won’t do any other tactics problems or book study.

I don’t think I need to do any research on this. I’ve been thinking about this and working on it off and on for quite a while. At my level, tactics are what I need most, so that’s the place to start. Visualization and positional play are the weakest parts of my game, and that’s what the flash cards will cover.

The daily trigger will be finishing dinner. This will also challenge one of my “sour” habits, which is sitting around doing nothing after dinner. I think if I can form the habit of doing something after dinner then in the long term I will be much more productive in the evenings.

The specific action I will take immediately after my trigger is to go to my computer and start working on tactics problems. I am going to reset the home page for my browser to go just to the two websites I will be using (one for chess tactics, and one for the flash cards).

The most likely obstacle will be getting upset when I do badly at the tactics problems. I have an emotional attachment dating back to my childhood of needing to do well. When I don’t do well I get upset. It’s been a major issue in developing my Chess game. I get to a point where I’m facing tougher opponents, and I start losing more than I’m winning. I get upset, lose motivation, and stop playing/working on my game consistently. To get over this, I need to keep the childhood sources of my attachment in mind. When I get upset I need to got through those sources and note how they just don’t apply any more, especially to how well I play chess. This is one area I’m not too sure on, and will bear watching for possible modification if it doesn’t solve the problem.

Another possible obstacle will be disruptions to my dinner schedule. If I go out to eat, I’m not going to be at home to go right to my computer. So I need to plan ahead and stop running errands after dinner, but rather run them before dinner. That way I can just drive home right after I finish dinner and go to my computer. That will mean no more combining dinner and groceries, but since I’ve been getting my groceries on my bicycle for the past couple months, that shouldn’t be a problem. There may be times when I just can’t get home after dinner. In those cases I can do the training on my phone. I have an app with Chess problems on it, and I also have an app on my phone that links to the website where I will be doing the flash cards.

The website I am doing the tactics problems on has a forum for training diaries. I will start a training diary there and see if I can get social support there. I will also be posting to my blog and the Habit Course forums. As the course progresses, I will try to shift my posting to the place I am getting more support from.

I’m not sure what I will use for positive reinforcement. I’m thinking Almond Joys, but that may be counter productive. I think the days I’m doing well will get me feeling good enough for reinforcement, and I may just save the Almond Joys for the days when I’m doing badly.

To keep track of my work I will create a spreadsheet to track the number of problems done, the number of flash cards created, and the number of flash cards read through. I will not track my tactics rating or success rates, because the important thing is to do the work. Besides, the websites I will be using will track that for me ;). I will make graphs and statisical analyses of my progress, because that’s the kind of guy I am.

I’m not sure what I will use for a support system. I’m not sure about the whole social support system idea in the first place, being a bit of a hermit.

My daily positive affirmation will be “I kick ass!” It may be non-traditional, but it’s worked for me in the past.