Habit X

by zenquaker

Pushed my Chess problems up to ten minutes today. I went 12 for 18, which is exactly double what I did yesterday. I looked at the graph of my rating progress for the past week and it was pretty much flat. Which is odd. In the past is has slowly climbed for a long time, then spiked downward (which bothers me and is usually what gets me to stop working on my Chess), and then starts slowly climbing again.

One thing was odd today. My trigger is finishing dinner. So I finish my pizza tonight, and I’m munching on chips. I’m resisting working on Chess because I want to eat more chips. However, after two or three more chips I get up and do my Chess problems. But if I wanted to eat more, I wasn’t really done with dinner, was I? I’m not sure if it was my trigger working too well, or if I wanted to work on Chess bad enough that I jumped the gun. Neither feels correct, but I’m leaning toward the latter since I’ve only been doing this a week. Which is probably not good, since it will interfere with the trigger being associated with the habit. I’ll pay closer attention from now on, to see if I can figure out what’s up.

Another possibility stems from the fact that I don’t always eat chips with dinner. I only do that when I have pizza. When I have pasta or grilled chicken, there’s enough food that the main course is all I need. It’s possible that I have come to associating finishing the main course with working on Chess.

I spent some time today thinking about the long term. The idea of the Habit Course is to learn how to create new habits in your life, and to practice throughout the course on one habit. But after that one habit is solid, you should be able to use the method to create more habits. But some habits are harder than others, and should wait until we have more practice; and we want to maintain our triggers as we gain more habits, so we can’t shift things around a lot. So I thought some planning might be in order.

At first I tried to figure out what habits I want to create. But I realized I couldn’t do that until I knew what my goals were. I decided that what I wanted was health, productivity, and accomplishment. That is, I want to do things, I want to achieve things, and I want to keep doing and achieving for as long as possible. I believe that health needs to be mental as well as physical, having seen dementia up close. I think the meditation helps the mental health, but I also need to keep the mind engaged. That is, I need to keep working my mind, and never let it just wallow in it’s learned patterns.

My current habit of working on Chess will serve two of those purposes: it will keep my mind engaged (at least for now) and it will give me the opportunity to accomplish something. My meditation practice should continue, obviously. I have a habit of exercising every day, but it is very minimal. I want to work on expanding the amount of exercise I do every day. I also want to create a new habit of working on my projects every day. That will give me the productivity I’m looking for. The exercise and the meditation really need to go before dinner. I don’t currently have time for that. So I need to develop another habit of getting up in the morning both consistently and earlier. So the plan is to solidify the Chess habit, then develop and solidify the project work habit, then change my sleeping habits, and finally expand my exercise habit.