Ben Borgers

Streaks Are Extremely Powerful

February 16, 2022

When I moved these blog posts over to my personal website, I added something new: a small counter that reports, for the whole world to see, how many days in a row I’ve been writing these blog posts for. This one will be the 35th day in a row.

The text above my list of blog posts.

I did this because I know that I’m very prone to manipulation through streaks. When I do something for many days in a row, my brain can’t fathom skipping it. The streak gives me that motivation I need to push myself over even on days when I’m not feeling it, because I know I’ll look back at the past and be happy that I kept up the habit.

Perhaps the first example where I really noticed this was my Apple Watch. Last summer and into the fall, I had a streak of meeting all of my Apple Watch’s exercise goals every day for 70-something days. I was doing it day in and day out.

And then one day, I missed the calories-burned goal by 5 calories.

I was crushed! Those 5 calories were the difference between keeping the streak and losing it. And I’d built up such a streak over months that losing it felt heartbreaking.

You can see in my Apple Watch history that I’ll often be extremely consistent in exercise, building up a streak, and then when I break it I’m much more prone to missing more days. It no longer feels as important. The streak has a hold over me, until I accidentally break it.

Another great example of this is Snapchat streaks. Completely meaningless, yet so powerful.

So that’s why I added the little streak counter to my blog. It helps me show up every day and write something, even when I feel like my consistency might be wavering, because I know my future self will be glad that I did.

My brain really doesn’t want to see that streak go back to 0. And thanks to this blog post, I live another day.