Why I don't like Streaks

My wife once had a Duolingo streak for over 200 days. She was really proud of it and excited to keep learning. Then we had a kid, and no matter how Duolingo helped her with streak freezes and whatnot, she wasn't able to keep it up.

The frustration of losing all this accumulated progress, even though it's just virtual and doesn't reflect her state of learning, hit her so hard, that she never opened the app again.

Streaks are stressful
While I like that streaks motivate you, keep you accountable and push you to squeeze another lesson in, no matter what, they can pretty easily backfire. Keeping up can be stressful.

What to do instead
In meditation I've learned the concept to "begin again". You get distracted? No judgement, no anger. Just start over and begin again.

I use this concept together with "life tracking", something I stole from Rob Dyrdek. He basically tracks all kinds of aspects of his life, keeps a tally or percentage and then just tries to improve his own progress month over month.

I think this is much more flexible and gentler, than the brutal nature of streaks. With Rob's words:

[...] the secret is remaining highly adaptive. [..] being conscious of the fact that life happens, chaos is unavoidable, and you must be able to be flexible within your systems in order for them to continue to function.

And this is what really did it for me. Like Rob, I now track all kinds of things: journaling, my wake-up times, how many cakes I eat, and more.

If I mess up a day or two or three, no biggie. Just begin again. Check in at the end of the month and try to be better the next month.

What do you do to keep yourself accountable? I would love to hear your stories. Find me on Twitter at twitter.com/marcelfahle.