We can nudge better than with streaks…

The brittleness of breaking a streak needs to be broken somehow.

So yesterday I had my phone swiped by someone who was on a bicycle, this was thankfully one of the few times I’ve experience crime in my life, and was non-violent, and the phone has been remote wiped.

This is annoying, leaves me a little shaken, and also annoyed as the thing will likely be dismantled for parts. It’s locked and while I know the that is imperfect, it’s work to remove. But, I have insurance, so it’s all good mostly ok.

But, frustratingly because my phone was gone, I just lost my 205 day Activity streak from my watch.

This was slightly annoying because one bit of Apple did know I’d moved, the “with friends” feature, but I suspect that is just sharing 6 numbers every few hours (the target and amount done for the 3 categories). This isn’t the “health” database, which is a far more granular time-series database, so the streak is broken.

Adding insult to injury theft, the watch even congratulated me for hitting my goal and extending my streak; unaware the achievement would disappear into the electronic void.

And this is the problem with these things, my mind (at least) goes to a place that “getting back to 205 days will be hard, it’s winter”. This now becomes a bit “why bother” rather than incentive.

The same thing applies to Duo-Lingo, Headspace, etc. When it’s a daily thing, and you fall off the wagon, it feels difficult to get back on. I know it might not be as effective, but what if I want to do 3 days of week of each – my 10 minute self-improvement slot.

David Smiths MyTrends++ has the concept of rest days, if you get 7 days on, you’re allowed 1 day off. I think that works nicely.

However, these things also don’t account for if you got ill for a few days and couldn’t exercise. I hate to cite the UK privatised rail system, but they are (or at least were) allowed to declare void days, when evaluations didn’t count – I guess charitably you could say these were fair when absolutely awful weather hit.

If you’re ill and not feeling able to exercise for a few days, that’s (probably) not your fault. But I think, paradoxically, the bigger the streak the bigger the “I’ll never get there again” feelings that arise.

Amazon’s new Halo wearable judges you over a week (if I remember correctly from a podcast), rather than daily. Which I think it’s a more sensible, and understanding of your life.

I don’t know how to fix this as I’m not a behavioural psychologist, but I wonder if you should be earning the equivalent of “long service leave” – maybe you earn one cheat-day a month, up to a maximum of 5?

I don’t know the solution to this, but I think the current obsession with daily gamification goes isn’t really that great, and I know we can do better.