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Let your streaks end naturally

ยท Around 3 minutes

Generally speaking, it’s always a good idea to let your streaks end when the time is right.

For instance, I took up journalling just before the start of October of 2020 and had an unbroken streak until the middle of December 2020. I picked it up again in the middle of January and it ran all the way until the start of June when I had a particularly troubling life event.

Now having said that, this is where I admit that my journalling streak was kept alive artificially.

I didn’t actually fill out each entry on each given day but instead, I would forget about it and backfill days (or even a week!) at a time. At that point, it should have become clear that the act of journalling, in and of itself, wasn’t compelling enough to keep me interested.

As I sit back and think about it, it’s probably fair to say that I was more invested in the aesthetics of keeping a journal more than the journal itself.

Day One has a cool feature for printing books and the idea of having a coffee table book1 was very cool but these are all side effects of journaling.

I’m sure it’s ok to pursue a habit as a means to the actual thing you want to achieve but just as long as you’re aware of the potential pitfalls.

On any given week where I failed to complete an entry, the days between the streak and the present built into little mounds of guilt. Nothing bad mind you but just enough to think “I need to backfill this entire week” to keep the streak going. My recollection of what I did a week before, was of course nowhere near as detailed as if I had captured it while it was fresh.

Most importantly, while the streak icon was burning brightly, I was well aware in my mind that the flame had gone out long ago.

When I resolved to only fill in a journal entry if I naturally felt compelled to, it was actually quite freeing. I didn’t have to think about the artificial guilt that comes with completionism2.

Funnily enough, some things I haven’t decided to explicitly grow a streak in, such as reviewing Readwise bookmarks, have since developed into their own streaks naturally.

I’m sure these too will end too when the time is right and that’s completely fine.

Perhaps you could say the same of relationships too.


  1. Not that I actually have a coffee table, or lounge, mind you! ↩︎

  2. A riduculous idea of course, since I’m missing journal entries ranging from my birth to my 25th birthday. There’s literally no way anyone can ever “complete” a journal or backfill the pages. ↩︎