Zia Hassan

Skipping A Habit

Every now and then it becomes necessary to skip.

If you’ve installed a new habit recently, like within the last month, you can’t skip. Or else you’ll put your habit formation in danger. It’s not that skipping will definitely derail you, but it could.

A habit, in its infancy, is a house of cards. The wind could blow it down and you’d have to start all over.

But when a habit is solidified, you’ll know. You’ll know because you won’t need to remember to do the habit, it’ll happen almost autonomously thanks to a part of your brain called the basal ganglia.

Writing this blog every day has become a habit for me. I don’t queue up posts or anything. But yesterday, I had to skip. I’m leaving for a trip today and was a single parent while my wife was on a business trip of her own. The blog post will happen over the course of my day, normally. It’ll just happen. Yesterday, I just fell asleep before it happened.

The thing about good habits like daily writing is once you’ve really established it (I’ve been at this for about a year), you can skip a day and pick up the next day like nothing happened. And for habits you decide are bad, the same is true. It makes you realize how similar bad and good habits are. We just assign them a sentiment, but ultimately all they are is neurons firing together automatically.

Lasting change is hard. Don’t skip when you’re forming a habit. But don’t beat yourself up if you’ve established a permanent habit and skipped a day.

Your brain is more resilient than you think.