Hello again all, still struggling to believe its been a week since my last post, I’d hoped to squeeze a bit more content in this week but sadly with work/life/plague I’ve had very little time or energy to conjure up anything too fantastic that I feel like posting. I’m still currently working on a few pieces of creative writing and obviously trying to squeeze in some time for my RP duties and obviously the Black Templars (Project: Helsreach).
Anyway enough excuses for now…. actually wait. This is the perfect time to discuss excuses and why I shouldn’t really have any. It involves 365 little black crosses and a chain. Kinky.
Now a chain can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, they can be good or bad, used to keep something in or keep something out, or they can hold us down. Sometimes though a chain is something as simple as repeating a pattern or keeping something up. I’d have talked about this like a combo but I’d only be inviting myself to start making combo breaker type jokes and posting hilarious JPEGs of various combo breaks…. oh go on then… just one and then back on topic.
Now back on to the issue at hand. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the much-loved ‘Don’t Break the Chain’ Calendar. It’s a very simple and quite effective method of achieving an aim or a goal. Its something I have recently found myself doing and I’ve found it to have had a real impact and provided me with some real results. Now you’ll have seen these before, the idea being that you set yourself a goal and then every day you do something that helps you achieve that goal you put an ‘X’ on the date and you keep doing this until you meet your goal or until your next calendar arrives. If you break your chain, you feel a bit defeated and then pick yourself up and try to create a new chain. Your goal/aim can be relatively simple like: Eat Healthy, Lose Weight, Exercise more, Write more, Spend more time with family. It can be anything.
As a cool side note this is actually a technique used by Jerry Seinfeld (Comedian and all round good dude.), he has even advised this to other comedians, writers and actors as a method for success or for focus on a goal. So lets break it down simply first, how does it work?
Step 1: Get a calendar and a pen/marker.
Step 2: Set aim/goal for the year.
Step 3: Mark every day with a ‘X’ if you do something to further that goal/aim.
Step 4: Don’t break that chain of ‘X’ marks until you achieve that goal/aim.
– Step 4.1: If you do break the chain, go back to Step 3 and try again until the chain completes.
Now you are wondering, if these are so great and effective then why doesn’t everyone keep doing them and everything will turn out great all of the time? In reality it’s because they are not that simple, it takes a fine balance and as discussed last week, it takes some ground rules to really make this notion work. Often people will have an aim that is too big or too vague, others will fall into the trap of not scheduling properly, some will fall into the trap of not settling on the right method of achieving the ‘X’ in the box, the next link in the chain.
In short, you need to set yourself some reasonable goals, understand how you want to achieve them and adjust to fit to your lifestyle, this can be as simple as setting a day off or even just understanding what qualifies as a link in the chain. You also need to understand the difference between breaking the chain and making a sacrifice. Lets face it, if you pledged to run 20 miles every day eventually you are going to run into problems, you might physically be over-straining yourself, you may hurt yourself and let’s be fair you probably couldn’t do that for 365 days a year, some can, many couldn’t, simply put; you can’t be ‘ON’ every day, some days you will need to take a break or make a sacrifice. At the end of the day, you are creating a chain, not wrapping yourself in one.
Now the next thing I’ll be hearing is that ‘Thats cheating though, you are still breaking the chain!’, it’s not, this chain doesn’t have to be a solid set of links of non stop activity, it can be a pattern or as mentioned a combo, it doesn’t have to be perfect, as long as you stick to the ritual of completing that pattern it’ll work. It’s when you break that pattern, that you have effectively broken your chain. Again this is why we need clear rules and systems in place to make sure that doesn’t happen. So I’ll share with you my rules.
Aim/Goal?: Be More Creative (Drawing/Writing/Painting/Photography)
How do I achieve an ‘X’ each day?: Spend 60 dedicated minutes doing one of these activities.
When do I have to do this?: Every day.
Any exceptions?: Severe Illness or Family Emergency.
Any other rules?: If I spend between 30-60 minutes on the activity, I get a small ‘X’ meaning a weak link, however if I spend more than 90+ minutes doing the activity, I get to circle the ‘X’ which is a strong link.
Simple. Now obviously I have a few further rules of my own (E.g. Word Count / Quality) but in essence this is what I’m trying to do, the activity can be something as simple as doodling for an hour, just doing a blog post or even just adding a few layers of paint to my Templars it’ll at least get me an ‘X’ even if sometimes it’s just a small one. It’s the habit and ritual that is important, I might not create something that I will use/show to everyone but at least I am doing something to pursue and increase my skills in these areas and which will hopefully lead to the goal.
This becomes a powerful tool and teaches a real patience and value for the time you spend doing the activity, eventually you will find yourself looking forward to doing the task and the great feeling you get from the almost ritualistic little ‘X’ you get to mark down. It also really drives you to carrying on the chain as failing or breaking your chain can is a horrible feeling and it will definitely drive you to make sure your next chain is stronger, as once you have broken it and felt that disappointment, you won’t want to feel that way again….. trust me. It’s important to understand what breaking the chain can feel like though I find, as that feeling is unlike any other motivation I’ve ever had.
So in short, grab a calendar and a pen, set some goals and rules and get to it. You’ll surprise yourself with how effective this little exercise can be. For example this post is my ‘X’ for today!
So love what you do, do it every day and always remember…..