This is a 7-day series I originally wrote end of December 2023 to help you kickstart your Chess improvement in the New Year. The principles explained in the series are timeless, you can apply them whenever you read this.
New Year’s Resolutions rarely work.
You write down what you want to achieve and start with a lot of motivation into the new year. But now you find yourself writing down the same resolutions once again.
If “improve my chess” is one of those resolutions, I got you.
The goal of this series is to help you come up with routines, habits, and a bulletproof plan that brings your Chess to the next level. Consistently.
You will adapt your mindset, learn to do the things that really make you improve, and create your own little chess improvement plan. So that by the end of 2024, when you think about your Chess, you simply say to yourself “Just keep going with the plan, it works and shows results.”
Resolutions mostly don’t work because you fall back to your old, bad habits.
Let’s face it. If your resolution is to improve your chess in 2024, most likely 2023 wasn’t perfect in that regard.
What you need is change.
And change is hard. We mostly rely on Habits. It is way easier to keep doing things the same way than to change them drastically.
But without a change of actions, there won’t be any change in results.
What most people try is to break through bad habits with sheer willpower and motivation. That works for 1 or 2 weeks, but eventually, everyday life takes over and we will be drawn back to our old, bad habits.
I’ve been there, done that. Too many times.
The key moment for me was reading Cal Newport’s Book Digital Minimalism. In this book, the author suggests a refined way of using digital tools only for things that serve us and getting rid of the endless social media scrolling and Netflix binge-watching.
The most interesting part was his suggested solution: instead of trying to immediately go from bad habits to good habits, he suggested a 30-day digital detox (long-time readers will remember I’ve attempted already two of those) before installing new, positive habits around digital tools.
I’m by no means perfect now, but I managed to cut down my overall digital free time by over 60% and re-use it for things like Beachvolley-Training, reading, exercising at the gym & meeting friends.
That’s why, if you really want to improve your Chess in 2024, I suggest you do a (smaller) chess version of the digital detox. Here is how.
The 7-Day Chess Detox
I’m a big fan of little, simple changes that improve your Chess. But with bad habits, I never found anything else that really works better than a detox.
To make it manageable, below I suggest three different versions of this Chess Detox. For you to start 2024 the right way, it is essential you don’t bring along many bad habits. What good Chess habits look like and how you can implement them, will be discussed later in the series.
What is your worst Chess habit? Scrolling Chess Twitter endlessly? Solving tactics with try & error instead of really thinking? Tilting Blitz Marathons? Pick the one that resonates most and commit to staying away from it for 7 days straight.
- Playing and analyzing games
- Reading a Book / Watching a course
- Solving Tactical exercises
- Following the Candidate Race / World Rapid & Blitz Championship
There is no restriction to your pick for the next 7 days. Stay away from all other Chess-related activities.
No Chess-related activities for the coming 7 days. The only exception: learning how to study the right way.
Tricks To Stick To a Challenge
I’ve tried many challenges in my life. Slowly, I learned how to trick myself into doing the hard but useful thing. Here is what works for me:
- Set a reward for achieving the challenge & punishment for each day you fail.
- Get accountable. Tell your loved ones about your challenge. Or share it online / do it with a friend. Many of the Next Level Training students post their goals/challenges in our Discord Server and get cheered on / held accountable by other, like-minded chess improvers.
- Remind yourself why you are doing this. What would it mean to you to have a very successful Chess year 2024? Write it down and look at it whenever you are about to break the challenge.
To make your Detox easier, I suggest deleting all Chess apps on your phone (don’t worry, you can always re-install them!) and installing an app called Freedom on your phone/laptop/PC.
This allows you to block certain sites. All meant to make it easier for you to stay away and break your bad habits once and for all.
Feeling Free Like A Bird
Going through my course, a student, let’s call him Alex, followed my suggestion to make his chess study as simple as possible. Checking his phone, he realized he had 16 (!!!) chess apps installed. He deleted all but 3 and reported: “I feel free like a bird”.
There is another huge benefit of such a detox: suddenly you have a lot of free time! I suggest you use some of it to become a Master on how to study Chess effectively.
The following emails help you to achieve this. But before we start setting up positive Chess habits and your own study plan, let’s talk about the right chess improvement mindset. That’s the topic of tomorrow’s email.
If you can’t wait until then, inside my course Next Level Training you can find all the information you need to know on how & what to study to improve your Chess effectively in 2024. It is 30% off for a limited period only, so make sure to check it out.