Dealing with broken streaks
As of today, I have a 2200 day streak on Duolingo. For over six years, I have spent a few minutes every day learning languages. I don’t speak them fluently, but I could survive a vacation or two with what I learned.
Maintaining that streak feels important. If I missed a single day, my streak would reset to zero. It would take another six years to get it back to where it is now. That sounds hard, and I might not even try and give up on learning languages if I lost my streak.
That sentiment of stopping as soon as you skipped something once is silly. Even if I miss a few days, I am still learning languages. What I know now and what I knew six years ago are vastly different. As motivating as a streak can be, it limits us to short-term thinking. Short-lived rushes of dopamine are not what we are doing this for. The real progress is in the long-term effects, the ones we can only see in retrospect.
If you set a resolution of exercising every week or reading every day, you might have missed a few at this point. Do not let that bother you. Think about where you will be in six years if you start over today, with or without a perfect streak.
Options are good but distracting. By starting with an end in mind, we can find out what the best next thing to learn is.
Don’t let perfectionism keep you from shipping things. Release (too) early, then clean it up after you got some real feedback on it.
My wife and I were supposed to relax on Mallorca right now. Our trip was cancelled less than 24 hours before our flight was supposed to take off.