Habit break

Kamil Tałanda
4 min readAug 14, 2022

I’ve been writing a post regularly for a while. Every second Sunday, no matter what was happening, I found some time to sit, reflect and write something that was in my head. I always believed it is a great way to keep in touch with a written form of expression, practice my English skills and put my thoughts into the pure language to verify how sure I am about them. That habit continued for a while until, one beautiful day, I forgot. I can easily find plenty of excuses that could satisfy my ego and help me feel better about it. But, the fact is a fact, I broke the habit, and no fancy word will change it.

Building a habit is a hard thing to do. I mean, something that improves you as a human being. Something like regular exercise, writing a blog post, or learning a new skill sounds easy at first. I’ll do it every morning or twice a week. That is what we usually do at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, not many New Year resolutions stay with us for long. You start with enthusiasm, follow the habit and feel good about it until that day. Nothing comes together. You think you are tired, and it seems unimportant. So you skip once. It is just that one time, you say. But the next day comes, and it is easier to ignore the activity the second time. It repeats until you realise you broke the pattern, and there is no reason to return to it. I like the broken window analogy when an abandoned building is fine until somebody breaks the first window. From then, it is a quick downhill ride. I will skip it only for today. I’m exhausted. It is not the end of the world if I don’t do it this one time. I deeply know those are lies that I feed myself and that it might be the end of my self-improving practice. It applies to every aspect of my training, including sport, coding, parenthood and languages. As Robert Greene would say, this is human nature. I try to outsmart my subconsciousness that God and nature were creating during thousands, if not millions, years of evolution. As you can imagine, there is no high chance of success.

I believe that if we make a habit, we should stick to it. Being resilient is the key to success, as far as I am concerned. If you feel the temptation to break the activity, think if it is worth doing in the first place. Maybe you put too much pressure on yourself and should rethink your approach. Maybe the thing that you are doing is not worth the effort. Perhaps it is not what you want to do and doesn’t push you in the right direction. Examine your decisions, and do not be afraid to change your mind. An important thing is to not change it based on impulses, just after a thorough reflection. We have limited time and capacity, and juggling it is always a trade-off. Once you decide to do one thing, you will have to give up on something else, even if it is just sitting around and doing nothing. My advice is not to do too many things at once. Based on experience with broken habits, and I believe most of us have that, we can estimate the limit. If we push too many things at once, the whole thing will collapse, and together with the insignificant activities, we will very likely give up on those that are important. If everything is essential, nothing is, so prioritising can help a lot. To not overwhelm ourselves, I would pick only a few related tasks that stretch our current schedule a little bit. If we see it works, we can add up, but better to improve just a tiny bit rather than stay in the same place or even go backward.

Another thing that might work is setting the timeframe on the habits. When we see the light in the tunnel, it is easier to keep up. Once we finish this iteration, we can examine if this is what we want to continue, if this skill is worth the effort and decide what to do next.

In summary, there is no break from the habit unless you plan it. So if you don’t do something because you are tired or something else more important came up, be prepared that it might be the end of the habit that you might have worked on for a while.

So back to the story from the beginning, I will write one blog post every second week, with no excuses, every second week until the end of 2022. Once something is written, I can’t deny it, so I hope this statement will give me extra motivation not to break the habit.