The Power Of Streaks

There's great motivation to be found in doing something regularly without interruption. But is that a good thing?

Some weeks I don’t want to publish something. In the case of this week, I’ve been working on different kinds of posts that are taking more than two hours each. But none of them are “ready.” That’s always a problem when you remove the time constraint. That’s another post though.

I don’t have another post, so I’m posting this post today. Which in itself is a dilemma. See, this post started as nothing, but turned into a bit of a discussion about why I post something when I have nothing. So this post isn’t the nothing it was going to be, so I’m not posting nothing, which negates the need for this post. But if I scrap it then I’d have nothing so I’d have to write this post again.

Hmmm. Let’s forget that.

Streaks. I post every week, no matter what. My biggest motivating factor: that I haven’t missed a week. Yes, it has become a habit that’s pretty cemented in my life. But I still need the streak. I love the streak. Can’t live without the streak.

If you’re counting, this is weekly post 69. Nice.

Everything in my life is up for grabs right now. I’m a spinning bottle with no clue which way I’m going to point when I stop spinning. And that’s great! But that’s when habits die hard. I’m glad I’ve got the streak to keep me going.

I don’t know what makes streaks so powerful. I wonder if everyone finds them so powerful. I’ve used them as a motivation tool as long as I can remember. For example, I would see how long I could go in university not missing a class — it was my main motivator for actually going to class. (A semester and a half was my record.) Another: I would see how many weeks in a row I could go to the gym or go running. I’m not sure what my record is there.

And drinking. I’m 18 months sober next week. I haven’t had a drop, and it’s easy, because doing so means breaking the streak. I do have dreams though in which I take a drink and ruin the sobriety streak. I feel so guilty in the dream and so relieved when I wake up.

So streaks are powerful. On the other hand, streaks are dangerous.

When keeping the streak alive is your main motivation for doing something, breaking the streak can topple empires. A good habit will maintain itself after a few missed moments. A streak, once broken, is dead. Good and truly dead. And you have to revisit the whole reason you’re doing something and find that motivation again.

I have no idea if other people think like this. It can’t be just me though, if I’ve learned anything from the conversations that have come from my writing. I know I’m not the only out there who enjoys organizing his closet.

I was thinking earlier this week that perhaps the best way to move forward is to move backward a little. Undo everything about myself and start again. Move somewhere new. Stop writing just for the sake of writing. Start drinking again.

Maybe I just wanted a beer.

The streak is just one of the many tools I use to keep myself chugging along the tracks. But what if it’s time to replace it with something stronger?

Regardless, I’m going to end this here go back to working on some other pieces of writing, secure in the knowledge that my posting streak and sobriety are — at least for now — intact.