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Jun 25, 2019 21:55:16

I'm thinking about breaking my streak intentionally

by @jasonleow | 822 words | 407🔥 | 445💌

Jason Leow

Current day streak: 407🔥
Total posts: 445💌
Total words: 237294 (949 pages 📄)

A side conversation in the comments thread that I had with @basilesamel keeps coming back. This was in one of my previous posts about streak burnout and wellbeing, and we were talking about intentionally breaking your streak as part of growth: 

@jasonleow Learning to break your streak and get back up is part of the growth mechanism. The main critique I formulated to Sergio is that adding rest days is not going to help with establishing the right mindset.
It's important to learn to break your streak. I kept breaking streaks for five years throughout college. Workout streak, journaling streak, blogging streak... Learning persistency helped me overcome many hardships in life, but that's a story (several ones actually) for another day :)

@basilesamel yes so true. If you can break the streak and climb back up anyway, then the habit is yours to keep! Tbh it's something I'd been thinking about with my 200th day coming...

@jasonleow Take a break :P It's no big deal, just whatever works for you.

@basilesamel Yep, no big deal. I'm not burned out, so I can keep going if I want to. Just considering intentionally breaking it anyway, just to up the challenge and see what can be learned from it.

Yes, I'd been thinking about intentionally breaking my recently celebrated 200th day streak, but still continuing to write daily after that. 

Leading up to the 200th day, I'd been thinking about what I can do to challenge myself further. I'd learned a lot about writing, about myself, about creativity and artistry, in these 200 days. It also feels like I'm at a place where I'm quite comfortable with writing daily. The initial struggles of not knowing what to write, seems to be gone...mostly. There's still brief moments of that uncertainty showing up, but it fades away really fast once I start my routine. I discovered themes I love writing about, and I unconsciously shuffle between them in my posts. Some days, I write one of those sensorially-descriptive and peak experience stuff, other days someone's quality thoughts and post catalyses a floodgate of thoughts that become my own post. Otherwise, I do daydream posts, making stuff up for a future yet to come. 

It feels like I could keep this going forever. Marathon runners will know this feeling - where after the initial struggle, you hit a pace and rhythm where your breath and legs are in sync and matched in input and output, and you kind of reach an active equilibrium, with your whole body optimised for the run. This brings the runner's high. And indeed, this is my writer's high. It's fun, it feels great to write, and there's a feeling of synergy between inspiration, thought, fingers and words. 

That's why I'm feeling somewhat itchy for more. If I want to grow more in my creative self through writing, if I want to push myself further, what can I do? Introduce a steep hill or two in the run? Add obstacles? Or run with stronger competitors? 

Breaking the streak feels like one of those steep hills I could bring into it. Fact is, I will still write everyday. I'm not stopping writing for sure, just resetting the streak. So how would it affect me if I removed that big number beside my streak flame? Would I lose motivation and stop altogether? Will it lower me into another deeper slump? Am I playing with fire here? 

Most importantly, what do I want to learn or achieve by doing this? 

Definitely, I want to train harder on the discipline and drive to climb back up. Perhaps to also test if there's any attachment to the social status of having a high streak count. Finally, there's something I feel like I want to test for myself: if I'm sure that a lifetime of writing is the endgame here, that I write because I enjoy it, I want it and I benefit from it, then can I let go of the streak anyway and be motivated to write due to the joy, desire and benefits that writing gives me? 

Because, truth be told, if I am to be totally honest with myself, even when I reached my 200th post yesterday, I wasn't that crazily excited or feeling accomplished. This might come off like arrogance or blowing my own horn, but it is sincerely not my intention. It's truly how I felt. At this point, 200 feels like a small check point in a lifetime of writing. If this 200-day journey had taught me anything, it was that I enjoy writing, I benefit tremendously from it, and I want to write daily. 

And what better way to test that lifetime writing hypothesis than to break my streak!? What do you think? Does this sound like bullshit? Or a feasible experiment? 

Side-note: This post is me thinking as I write, writing as I think, writing for emergence, so please pardon the convoluted rambling. ;P



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    @jasonleow Why not aim for other writing challenges? Like working on structuring your writing? Or having it published somewhere? Or selling a collection of essays? The additional challenges can be related to the quality of your writing or facing fears about selling your words.

    It seems like the writing world is vast and has lots of potential challenges to offer.

    Haider Al-Mosawi avatar Haider Al-Mosawi | Jun 28, 2019 21:02:09
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      @haideralmosawi yes also exploring some of those ideas you mentioned while thinking about this.

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Jun 29, 2019 22:53:00
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    @jasonleow I've done that due to a timezone bug with duolingo years ago. I was niot ready anf I stopped using it for a while. Later on I came back to it just to learn, not really caring about the streak. The streak shouldn't be a shackle. If you don't enjoy it anymore and it is jiust a burden let it go. You can always pick it up later.

    Valentino Urbano avatar Valentino Urbano | Jun 25, 2019 21:14:59
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      @valentino erhm...maybe it was lost in the rambling post, but I'm not resetting the streak because i don't enjoy it anymore. I still enjoy writing everyday and will still post everyday, just wanting to experiment with resetting the streak that's all.

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Jun 26, 2019 20:10:38
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      @jasonleow OH allright, if it's a conscious choice it's different. If you end up doing it let us know what changes after, if you gained or lost anything, if anything changes at all.

      Valentino Urbano avatar Valentino Urbano | Jun 27, 2019 08:32:52
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    @jasonleow It reads like you're starting to reason better now that you're 40 :-) -- I think breaking your streak intentionally is an interesting experiment. What if, in the entire world, there are only the people in this comment thread that would even care?

    If we had more influence, we could simply get better indicators of effort. If you saw a person logging a run every day for 200 days, you'd know they're begging for injury.

    What if writing every single day blocks you from the insight a day off would enable? We don't know do we?

    At 200 days, I think you've already proven that you can show up. If you hired an editor to go through and remove all the crap, would you be proud of the 200 days of effort?

    Brian Ball avatar Brian Ball | Jun 25, 2019 07:23:02
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      @brianball erhm...maybe it was lost in my convoluted rambling of a post, but by "breaking" i wasn't saying I'm thinking of taking a break, or taking a day off. I'm still going to write daily here, even on the day I 'break' the streak... I'll just intentionally post it after the 24h window in order to reset the number. I think I should have said "reset the streak" instead of "breaking" - that would have been clearer.

      "what if writing every single day blocks you from the insight a day off would enable?" Good question! From my experience so far, writing everyday here seems to bring more insight for myself, but I never asked that question before, so will ponder more about it. :)

      I like your analogy of hiring an editor to go through the crap. Editorial quality is not something I think about often, even though that's not exactly why I write here.

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Jun 25, 2019 22:37:41
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      @jasonleow - in that case, hacking the streak! ( you could turn off the streak in your settings )

      Brian Ball avatar Brian Ball | Jun 25, 2019 10:17:11
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      @brianball hmmm I think there must be some skin in the game to have its intended effect...

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Jun 26, 2019 20:09:03
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    @jasonleow I think you already know my opinion on the subject. #Teamstreak

    Brandon Wilson avatar Brandon Wilson | Jun 25, 2019 07:11:31
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      @brandonwilson heh yeah I know. Thing is, i will still write daily here. If I still write daily , does it matter that the streak number is 200 or 2? (not saying it is, just wondering and curious to hear your perspective)

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Jun 25, 2019 22:19:18
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      @jasonleow Well I suppose since you are so curious then you will have to go ahead and break it and tell us. I already know what it feels like to not have a streak. That was over 200 days ago.

      Brandon Wilson avatar Brandon Wilson | Jun 25, 2019 08:13:07
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      @brandonwilson ok.

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Jun 25, 2019 23:17:29
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    @jasonleow - NOOOOOOOOOOO... What happened to the 1861 number? I thought we were all going there. Dont do it! Please. Keep going.

    If you break your streak for some unforeseen reason, I understand having the ability to get back is a good one. But intentionally - WHY? I do not understand that.

    Let writing be something you do daily. Forget the streak number but just keep writing without this intentional streak break idea.
    Lets get to the 5 year mark as #TeamStreak and do wonderful things together.

    Keni avatar Keni | Jun 25, 2019 10:03:42
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      @keni awww thank you Keni. Love your last line about doing wonderful things together. I do want to do that. And even if I break the streak, I will still climb back up to #teamstreak. :) I guess I'm itching for more, and super curious to experiment if I will write anyway even without the streak. Still thinking it through... not sure yet. This discussion is helping though, so am grateful for your words! :)

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Jun 25, 2019 22:15:33
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