Just this once…

Hey there!

Today’s Wisdom Nugget is something that we experience all the time but doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I am talking about the “Just this once” effect which is one of the learnings from Clayton M Christensen’s book: How will you measure your life.

You would relate to it if you have ever tried to build a habit/get rid of one. You would have started out strong and you begin to see results and then you slowly make way to exceptions in your system saying, “just this once, I will… check insta, play more, or smoke one cigarette. I will continue from tomorrow again” and (not surprisingly) tomorrow never came!

The main idea is to build a system around which you can work towards building your habit and realise each time the “Just this once” thought pops up in your mind.

This is one of the toughest phases of habit building where we must keep our urges in check.

We begin to fall in a false sense of accomplishment when we see our system working, like keeping time aside to read before bed, or making a conscious effort to not text after 12, or spending time with family every Sunday. We begin to feel that a one-time exception won’t hamper our progress as we have a system in place already.

But, we forget that we are able to achieve those results initially solely because of the system we have built just like the Paradox of Success.

Why is it important?

Because we will always have an emergency in life that is more serious than the one we have right now. We have to trust in the system we have built.

In a sense, the system is a bridge we build between us and our goals and each exception we make is like removing a bolt. Over time we would have removed so many bolts that the bridge would have collapsed! Of course, this is an exaggerated analogy, but I hope you get the idea.

This is even harmful when we are trying to kick a bad habit! We give in to temptation. Just one more samosa while on diet! But, in the end, we feel inadequate, unaccomplished, shitty and squander in self-pity.

But, what if something is really an emergency and needs your attention? Because you cannot always stand by your principles. It boils down to what we define an emergency to be! Eg, I’ll have a samosa just this once and ignore the fruits beside it Vs I’m stranded with just this samosa! It is upto us to define what the emergency is.

So, what can we do?

  1. Clearly define the goal/habit you want to achieve/build.
  2. Define what would emergencies look to you!
  3. And Just this once stay true to the system you built.
  4. Uncommit to all the things that do not fit on your bridge to success.

Two Minute Task

This is simple, but not exactly easy! Let us define our emergencies.

  1. List out all the things that may keep you from building your habit.
  2. List out your priorities.
  3. Out of them, your emergencies would be the hindrances you can control and align with your priorities.

As a closing note- the joy and pride of completing a task which you know you have to do for yourself but don’t feel like (at the moment) is truly rewarding!

With that,
More Power to you!


What is the habit you’re really passionate to build or get rid of?

I hope this post was helpful!
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Featured Image: Photo by kabir cheema on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “Just this once…

  1. Great issue and great write up!

    The ‘just this once’ effect as you put is quite detrimental. It is the start of a slippery slope. It is easier to gain more bad habits whey you give in to it.

    Liked by 1 person

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