Streaks: good or bad?

Now I’d like to write my thoughts on “streaks”.

The platform I’m holding my blog has the notification of announcing your posting streak every time you hit “publish”. It is motivating to see that streak number goes higher and higher, especially when it’s over 30, and then 50, and then 80.

I didn’t care about keeping streaks until I did it without knowing it. I was used to ignore things like that, since I didn’t like that pressure a single number puts on me. A two-day streak or a five-day streak doesn’t matter. Since it’s not difficult to achieve, it doesn’t hurt to lose it.

One day after publishing a post, I noticed I’ve achieved the 30-day mark. “This is doable. I might just keep it.” I thought.

But there’s immediately a problem. Keeping the streak for the sake of “keeping the streak” in the system can make you do some insincere things. You can post some random words and then hide the post immediately, to get the streak going; then you can add content to the post the next day. The good thing is the streak is kept and you can keep going; the bad thing is it’s… cheating. And cheating the system is meaningless, and stupid. Yet you feel compelled to do it anyway.

The purpose of keeping the streak to post is meant to keep me moving, at least a little bit every day. But the streak itself – the means – gets in the way of the real work and blurs the real purpose.
Just when got overwhelmed for a day, I missed that post. The 80-day streak is broken. And it’s been hard for me to keep going since then.

So, is keeping streaks a good mechanism to motivate or not? How should we balance the work itself (creating) and the means (keeping the streak to create ever day) to get to our goals?

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