Streak - Don't Break The Chain

Sometimes I get this sudden surge of motivation, usually after comparing myself with others and some general overthinking about where my life is going. Then, I meticulously draft elaborate plans on how to overhaul my life, not just in one area, but in several, all at a time. I get greedy on the paper, adding more and more goals, projects and to-dos. It's easy for current me to just give orders to my poor future self, while fantasizing a glorious future. It's easy for current me to lay down agendas, principles and rules, after all it's the future self's burden, not mine. 

Soon enough, the day comes, when I need to transition myself from the role of queen bee to worker bee. Somehow I get through day 1, probably with the help of beginner's enthusiasm, which soon wanes and then, I curse my past self for jam packing my day leaving me no breather. It becomes tougher to force open the eyes, leave the cozy warm bed, set my feet on the cold floor and face the same overload again. The tough mental resolve to do everything no-matter-what gives in, soon I start snoozing, oversleeping, avoiding things I am supposed to do, slipping into old ways - which all lead to guilt and shame, which further reinforce to myself the point that- I can't be trusted, I am not reliable. The circle perpetuates itself again and again - motivation, feeling overwhelmed, guilt, worthlessness, mental breakdown.

The more we break our own promises to ourselves, the more demotivated we become to the point of low self esteem. It's better to not set any promises which you know you can't keep up. 

Streak - Don't Break The Chain
Streak - Don't Break The Chain

This is where "streak" becomes quite handy. The concept of streak is doing the bare minimal goal you have set for yourself every single day consistently. This goal should be small enough that you can do it even on a busy day and big enough to actually matter over long term. This is popular under several names as - non zero days, Seinfeld strategy(incorrectly attributed Seinfeld), chain etc. It's suggested to visually mark your streak on a calendar and the more streak you have, the more are your stakes when you are tempted to skip it for a day.

The best example for this would be Duolingo, the language learning app. You need to complete a lesson, that takes about five minutes, every single day, to keep up your streak. On your best days, you can do more. But on your worst days, all you need to do is take out five minutes of your time and just do one lesson. This one lesson is minimal, yet it matters over long term, with it's twenty questions making sure that you have learnt enough for the day.

Why you should start a streak?

  • To not overwhelm yourself with an Everest sized goal.
  • To leave no room for self doubt. It often happens that, after making lot of progress over something, we still get gripped by self doubt, if we can ever achieve the seemingly impossible goal. The addiction to streak will keep you focused on just today's mini goal.
  • To beat procrastination. The best way to overcome procrastination is through pomodoro - starting and doing something just for one pomodoro time slot(25 minutes). But in a streak, you can set whatever time you think is possible for you. Read for five minutes? Sure, it's just five minutes. If you still feel like doing more, you can continue, otherwise, you can quit after 5 minutes. Easy - can't say no to that.
  • To establish a system. You don't raise to the level of your goals, rather you fall to the level of your systems. Nothing is beyond the system and you should never break it. You go on auto-pilot as dictated by it. No more over planning and stressing over details.
  • To start believing in yourself. To prove yourself through small wins. To boost your self esteem.
  • To make a breakthrough in your goals just by doing the minimum per day.
  • To be content and not stressed or paranoid, as you log in a non-zero day.
  • To not treat your goal like a side quest for someday.


  • Don't make any more promises to yourself which you can't keep up.
  • Prioritize. Consider the amount of effort and time needed and weigh in the priorities. For example, being a rockstar sounds awesome, but needs so many hours of focused practice. Can you afford that? Are you willing to work on it over long term? If not, remove these vague fancy dreamy goals from your list and make peace with it. Do consider what you should actually be working on.
  • Pick just one goal where you want to maintain the streak. You will end up overwhelming yourself if you set yourself for streak in 10 different areas.
  • Set the minimum goal per day. Imagine you had a busy day at work, trouble with colleagues and boss, too many chores at home, fights with your family members and so on - now, will you be able to still sit focused and achieve this tiny goal of the day?
  • Test and prepare yourself with smaller streaks - 30 day challenges are great for this.


  • Streak can become a double edged sword. You may end up doing something just for namesake - for the sake of streak. Streak should be the motivator and the gatekeeper for you to not skip goals, but streak itself shouldn't become the goal.
  • Walk slow, but never backwards. You may do a 100 day streak and yet throw it all down the drain one not-so-fine Monday morning. Life happens, other things take up your attention, new things become priorities in your life. Remember and revisit why you are doing the streak. Don't break the commitment to yourself.
  • If and when you break streak, which you will, despite your best intentions- emergencies happen all the time, forgive yourself and move on. The best advice I found was - never break streak, but if you do, never break it twice in a row.


I have started learning Spanish on Duolingo just to stay awake, when I started polyphasic sleep schedule. Soon I got interested in it and it has become this non-vicious circle - to not fall asleep, I had to work on Duo and to work on Duo, I had to maintain my polyphasic sleep schedule. This effect quickly spilled over to the rest of my life. Till then I was binge watching everything I could find on Netflix and Prime(early lock down days). Duolingo and polyphasic sleep kept my day from getting derailed since then. You never know what may bring some order to your otherwise chaotic life. I have now completed 100+ day streak in Duolingo and 50+ day streak in coding. But I still managed to forget Duo after 108 days, when I was swamped with work and chores! Thanks to Duo streak freeze, my streak was saved. I do want to set streaks in many more things like my hobbies, but I know I can't do everything every single day. So I have set it just for coding which I should actually be doing, as that's my work.


May the streak be with you!


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