Maximize The Surprising Power of Streaks

Some of you know about Hoots and her 10,000+ steps-a-day streak. September 21, was the 3rd anniversary of 365 days of her walking 10,000+ steps everyday. 3 and half years. Rain or shine, sick or well, busy or not, travel or home, she walks 10,000 or more steps every day.

On the 2016 on the “anniversary” of the streak her total steps were: 14 million on 1,096 consecutive days. And she’s still going.

Streaks are a powerful tool for changing and reinforcing behaviors. A streak is simply a string of behaviors — an everyday action. A behavior chain.

Streaks are most powerful when you keep a record. Write them down where you will seethe streak. Use big red “X’s” on a calendar. An app for steps. A date and a note in a spreadsheet. The key is a tool that lets you see the count of days in a row.

If you want to turn amplify the power of a streak by a zillion, declare it to your community via your favorite social media. And ask them to hold you accountable. That’s when things get real fast.

Jerry Seinfeld gets some credit for publicizing the power of streaks for creativity. I get credit from Hoots for convincing her to do her steps as a streak. Believe me, that streak isn’t going to break because of me. If they’re loading me into an ambulance on the way to the emergency room you can be sure that I’m going to yelling “Protect the streak!” as they close the doors.

A streak is a robust tool for anything that is a challenging high priority. For instance, I’ve struggled to find time to write. I live a crazy-busy life. I would tell myself I didn’t have time to write. And sure enough, I wouldn’t.

Or it wasn’t a good time to do writing.

Or I didn’t have my laptop open.

Or I only had a few minutes…

Lame excuse after lame excuse.Yet, I know that writing is important to our business and to my ambition — I have some ideas I want out in the marketplace so I can learn what the world thinks about them. The only way that’s going to happen is if I write. And since I will never have time to write. Time to write won’t appear. I have to
ruthlessly create the time to do it.

When I was starting in meditation, I kept track of the streak of days in a row that I’d meditated.

When I’m changing an eating behavior it becomes a streak.

I use simple tools to track my streaks. My streak of prayer/meditation, my exercise streak, my writing streak, on and on.

At the beginning, a streak is a delicate thing. You have to protect it. Hoots always calls them “baby ducks.” You have to fight for it. You have to nurture it. You have to continue to remind yourself why it is important.

But once a streak has had time to grow, things change. After a few weeks a streak takes on a power of its own. A mature streak becomes a beast to be reckoned with.

A mature streak will growl at you: “How dare you risk this beautiful thing we’ve been doing for these 78 days? Get your butt out of bed.”

You’re important to this world. The changes you want to make, the personal growth you are dreaming about, the life you want to live can become streaks that make honoring your intentions much easier.

Don’t let anything get in the way of changing your life.

So stop reading email first thing in the morning. Don’t dive into Facebook early. Instead create streaks to help you do what you dream of!

I’d love to hear about how you do what’s most important to you. What are your routines and rituals that nourish your day? How does your day begin? And do you have any streaks going?

Comment to: sthomas [at] wizardofads [dot] com