Discipline Hacked (Sort of) Plus an Announcement 

The funny thing is after I typed out the title of this post, I stared at my computer screen for a couple hours, in between browsing social media, and then decided to go to bed. That first sentence was finally written the next morning while I ate breakfast. I knew I was running late, but no one gets into the office until at least an hour after I do, so I decided not to rush and, at the same time, be productive while I drank my tea. It was English Breakfast. This final version wasn’t completed until that night, while I was drinking another cup of tea, an herbal blend.

I’m going through one of those periods where my mood changes as frequently as the weather in New England (if you don’t like it, just wait five minutes). Things are happening and at the same time not, and I can’t seem to decide what to react to. So I’m reacting to everything. I like to keep things fair and balanced.

Before I explain all of that vague, cryptic talk, I wanted to follow up on my Hacking Discipline post from a few months ago (geez, has it been that long??). Is it bad that when I looked at the post again and saw this screenshot, I thought “oh yeah, I forgot about that!”


My following thoughts were “What was I thinking? That’s a lot!” and “It’s sad how little of this I’ve completed.”

I did complete some things though!

After publishing that post, I was browsing the app store and found an app called HabitBull. When I originally thought about using a tracking app, I had the impression that it would be too restrictive. I thought I would have to choose exactly when I would do things and “fail” if I didn’t do them at that time. I didn’t want the scheduling to be too specific because then it would start feeling obligatory. Turns out others must feel the same way because I found at least one app that is flexible.

HabitBull allows me to set different types of goals. I can create a yes/no goal, as in did I or did I not complete it when I said I would. I can create a goal to do something on certain days of the week or at least so many days per week. I can also set work-based goals, like writing so many words or practicing for so long within a time period. The concept behind the app is based on Seinfeld’s productivity theory of not breaking the chain.

Here is what my homepage of the app looks like.Screenshot_20170809-194204

I’ve set up five different habits to track. The goal for the stretching habits is to do them daily. The supplemental exercise habit is at least once a week. The Dance Diaries 3 and technique drills habits have word count and time spent goals.

As you can see, I’ve been successful in completing my morning stretches every day. The days are filled in and make a chain. The chain goes all the way back to May when I first started using the app! Evening stretches aren’t as consistent; you can see that I didn’t do them Sunday night this week, so the chain from last week was broken. Supplemental exercise is going well. I’ve completed it at least once a week for a month now!

The other two habits have been neglected, but I’ve read that you really should just focus on a couple habits at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. As usual, I expected more of myself than was realistic.

Do I feel more disciplined since I started using this app?  Not really…maybe? I don’t think it’s something that would make me feel obviously different. The whole point of creating a habit is to not have to think about it. There have been mornings when I’ve woken up feeling like crap (like during my 4-day migraine/headache last week!) and I’ve considered skipping the stretches. I’ve managed to stick with them though. I may not stretch as long as other days, but I still do them and I usually feel better afterward. So I guess that means I am more disciplined than I was.

Do you use an app to track fitness or other habits? Something else? What works for you?

Now then, back to the rollercoaster mood. After just writing about the progress I’ve made using HabitBull, I kinda want to just forget the nonsense that brings my mood down. It’s a lot of silly things that I shouldn’t let bother me, but I’m human so sometimes the nonsense gets to me. Being predisposed to focusing on the negative doesn’t help either.

Ok, enough generalizations. The announcement and the reason for the upswings in my mood…

I’m competing at Embassy Ball

After Desert Classic, Teacher and I were aiming for USDC, a.k.a. Nationals, in Florida. We wanted a second chance at the national title that we missed competing for two years ago (although this time it would be for silver instead of bronze). I live on the opposite side of the country though, which means extra expenses for travel, hotel, dog boarding, etc.

Embassy Ball is local to me, so I don’t need to book a hotel or even board the dogs. I live so close, I’ll be able to go home and take them for a walk in between sessions. The competition is also nicknamed Worlds because it hosts the World Championships, so I still get to compete for a title. I’m not sure how worldly these world championships are (or are they more like Baseball’s World Series?), but a title is a title.

Even with only needing to come up with money for entry fees, makeup and Teacher’s fee, I’m still struggling. That’s the nonsense that kills my happy mood. I have the money for entries and makeup on the day I dance, but once again, I’m short when it comes to Teacher’s fee, so I’ll be paying him as I’m able. I’m sure anyone can relate – it’s frustrating to feel like no matter how long you work at something, it doesn’t get easier. Will there ever be a comp where I don’t have to scrape together the funds and be forced to ask Teacher yet again for extra time to pay what I owe him?

But wait, there’s another upswing coming! I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize the obvious improvement in my situation. Embassy will be my third competition of 2017! Last year, I could only do one. The year before, I managed two. Three is unheard of! So I must be doing something right.

My dancing is helping lift my mood too. Since Desert, I feel like some things are clicking and my dancing feels better because of that. I know there’s an excellent chance that the girls who beat me at Desert will be at Embassy, so I’m not focusing on the potential title as much as I am on the desire to dance better. As long as I keep improving, I’m beating the only competition that really matters – my past self.

Ok, that was borderline too cheesy for me; we’ll give the nonsense a little more attention.

Frustrations outside of dance are the other bit of nonsense pulling me down. The day job is keeping me extra busy to the point that I’m bringing work home at night and on the weekends. I’m salaried, so no overtime pay unfortunately. Since I’ve started working to develop income from my writing and other side hustles, I’m very aware of the value of my time. It’s hard to focus on editing reports for the day job on a Saturday when all I can think is “I’m not really getting paid for this!” Whether I work 40 hours or 50 hours in a week, my paycheck is the same. My nose crinkles now, like I’m smelling vinegar, when I think about that.

I think the upswings are going to win this round. The stars didn’t align for Nationals, but Worlds is a damn good alternative! It would have been fun to make the trip to USDC into a little Disney/dancing vacation…oh well! It’ll be amusing to walk the dogs in my full makeup between sessions and see the looks my neighbors give me. I’ve noticed that local comps don’t have the same feel as away comps. I think some of the ballroom fantasy magic is lost when I just go home after competing.

But I’m excited to get to experience another new competition! One of my long-term, “just for fun” goals is to experience as many different comps as possible. Some people check off the places they’ve visited. I want to check off ballroom competitions. I’ve already checked off two more this year. Here’s to lucky number 3!


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