I remember streaking back in the 1970’s. I even tried it a few times…with friends under the cloak of darkness when not many people were around. It was a youthful indulgence. But, that’s not the kind of streaking I want to talk about today. I mean really at our age?
Streaking came back into my lexicon recently when I accepted a challenge from Duo, a little green owl. I bet him five lingots, double or nothing, that I could maintain a seven day streak in my Duolingo Spanish language studies. Duolingo is a popular language learning app. It has a gamified skill tree and you earn “lingots” for learning new language skills.
Every week I make a five lingot wager that I’ll maintain a seven day streak and end up with ten lingots. And I do this because lingots are so valuable? No. There’s not much I can do with all the lingots I’ve accumulate but boast about them. I do it because it’s addictive.
In fact it is so addictive that I am now on a 50-day learning streak.
Streaking is Habit Forming
I’ve wanted to learn Spanish for two years. For the first time I’m actually making progress and it’s because I began streaking. I knew I had to study every day to make progress but I just didn’t do it until I formed the habit. Streaking is habit forming.
It made me wonder how else I could apply this notion of streaking to my life.
Streaking is Healthy
That’s when I thought of exercise. Jamie and I are pretty solid in our fitness routines but not perfect. Could we devise a personal streak incentive like lingots to keep us going on those rainy mornings when we’d rather stay in bed? And, if we miss a morning workout, will our desire to maintain a streak mean that we’ll fit it in sometime during the day? Historically the answer was no. But now? I’m proud to say we are now on a 21-day streak all because we’re keeping track.
Taking a play from the Duolingo playbook, one is allowed to purchase a one day streak freeze for 10 lingots. This may be useful when we feel we just can’t do anything – neither a tough workout or a recovery workout.
Streaking is Economical
In hindsight, I set myself a goal one year ago to stop buying anything but food. I didn’t have the concept of streaking in my mind at the time but I remember how easy it was to not make any purchases for two months. Then it was three months, four and soon that habit had taken over and I was proud of myself. Yes, I bought things in the last year but each purchase was carefully weighed. Do I absolutely need a new pair of exercise shoes? Yes. It is something that replaces something that is worn out? Yes. It’s a new way of buying. Something I wish I had started a decade ago.
I don’t know the science behind the psychological impacts of streaking, but I do know streaking works wonders. You should give it a try.
Oh, and thanks Duo.
Susan Carey retired in 2017 after a long business career most recently in animal welfare leadership. She writes about her experiences as a recent retiree living in Spain. Susan lives in Valencia, Spain with her husband, Jamie, and the senior pets they brought with them from the United States.