Earlier this year, I made a special kind of calendar on my fridge. The X Effect calendar. The idea is to cross off the day as you complete your habits, and not break the chain. It’s the technique Jerry Seinfeld used to get in the habit of writing jokes every day. It’s simple but effective. This system enables the long-term effects of compounding to take hold. One small habit, repeated daily every year, leads to exponential results. There’s even a subreddit called The X Effect dedicated to this practice.
When I excitedly created my calendar and list of habits. I imagined the new me would militantly complete my daily tasks, which were: go for a walk, do 30 pull-ups, drink water, read to my son, write in my journal, floss my teeth, no alcohol and no sugar.
It was like I was crafting this idyllic new version of myself, there and then on the fridge. The first few days went well. I had completed everything, every day - and I was on a roll. Habits like no alcohol I could complete for free, it was just a case of not doing it. But then I went away for a weekend. With the calendar out of sight, and out of mind - I had broken my chain. I found a way to justify not sticking to it. Now it was something I only did when I was at home. How could I enjoy myself if I become a slave to this system?
You can probably guess what happened next. I stopped using the calendar, and fell out of most of the habits. Weeks later, only now am I reflecting on it, and I think I found the problem. I was trying to do too much. I tend to be an all or nothing kind of guy. Sticking to one habit didn’t feel worthwhile. I wanted the new me instantly. I wanted to jump from A to Z. But the reality is, we have to go from A, to B, to C, to get there. It’s no wonder I failed.
So in the spirit of a failed experiment, I'm trying again. With a new empty calendar, I have just one habit that I intend to keep to. Writing. I’ve experienced enormous benefits from writing. It’s a form of therapy. It consolidates my thoughts. It’s a creative act of expression and it connects me with people. I’m reaching you right now, that’s how cool writing is! I did consider ‘waiting’ until the New Year to begin this new habit. But I can decide when a new resolution starts. And that’s now.