Streaks IV: A New Hope

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It seems I measure my life in streaks these days, so I thought I’d give regular readers an update on how I’m doing.

Back on January 24, I gave a progress report on my streaks and explained the logic behind why these streaks are so important to me. So in lieu of a better, more thought out blog post, given that it’s 10:30 pm and I have an hour and a half to hit publish or break the streak that I’m proudest of, here are the updated stats, current as of today except where noted.

Consecutive days recording at least my morning vitals: 536.

Consecutive days recording my caloric intake to the best of my ability: 320.

Consecutive days tracking my mood and activities in my mood tracking app: 280, current as of yesterday. (As I explained back on January 24, this is one of the last things I do before turning out the lights at night, so I haven’t recorded today’s entry yet.)

Consecutive days completing my exercises in my Elevate and Duolingo learning apps: 200.

Consecutive days achieving full marks on my daily checklist: 51, current as of yesterday.

I’m especially proud of these streaks because they’re all continuing a month into my usual annual downswing, where I stop everything except the bare minimum that I need to survive – recording vitals and taking medications. I think keeping these streaks alive is part of how I’m combating that this year, so I’m clinging to the streaks. I’ve still got a month and a half to go before I’m out of that period in my annual mood cycle, so I’m almost halfway there at this point.

Tracking Moods With a Mood Tracker

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I use a mood tracker called Daylio and have every night since June 2. The tracker allows you to record your mood on a scale of 1 to 5 (the mood categories are actually “awful,” “fugly,” “meh,” “good,” and “rad” instead of actually being called 1 through 5), lets you select the day’s activities with just a tap, and then allows you to write about your day. It also keeps stats about how many of each mood category you received through the month, compares your daily moods with each activity, so you can track what activities can help improve your mood, and shows you a chart of your moods throughout each month so you can see when there were trends in your mood. It also lets you backup your entries to Google Drive once a week so that you don’t lose data (or at least a lot of it at once). All in all it’s a pretty powerful little app and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s being asked to do something similar in their own lives. It’s available for Android and iPhones and it’s free, although the premium edition (which only costs a couple bucks, if I recall) allows you to download your diary data in CSV format, so you can share it with your healthcare professional.

It’s highly customizable. You can edit, delete, or add activities (and their icons) to your list, and you can change the mood category names if you want. You can write as little or as much as you want about the day, or you can skip it altogether.

When I first started with this app, I recorded any day that wasn’t bad as “good,” so there are a few months where a lot of my days aren’t very accurately recorded. In the early part of November, it looks like, I made the decision to be more honest with myself about days when I felt like I was just going through the motions, so to speak, being “meh” and not “good.” So of late I have a lot more “meh” days than anything else, partially because I’m being more honest with myself and partially because I feel like I’m stuck in a bit of a rut personally.

Overall, though, as of yesterday I’ve recorded five “rad” days, 132 “good” days, 92 “meh” days, and 14 “fugly” days. I’ve never truly felt “awful,” which is a good thing.

But the trend of “meh” days is concerning. In January, my stats are 0/2/24/4/0 (moving from “rad” to “awful”) meaning I’ve only had what I’d consider to be a “good” day twice this month – on the 7th because I did a lot of socializing with both friends and family, and on the 29th because I accomplished a lot of positive things with my day (this is also the day that I set a new full marks streak record on my checklist).

Am I being too hard on myself when judging how a day went, that if there’s not anything truly noteworthy about a day it’s not good enough to be “good?” Or am I being fair about days when I feel like I’m just existing being “meh” days? The app doesn’t really give you suggestions about what makes a day rate what it does, and for good reason – everyone’s experience is different, so it would be impossible to give a blanket definition to each category.

I think I need to work on defining these categories better so that I’m more honest with myself and with my therapist.

Streaks III: Live From the Trenches

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I don’t know why personal streaks are so important to me. I think that’s because I had a reputation when I was younger as someone that would start something and then walk away from it when it got too hard (to avoid failing) or I got bored with it (which was very often) or when it became clear that I couldn’t do it perfectly (I once crumpled a test into a ball and took the zero on it rather than use an eraser to correct a mistake that I’d caught myself making), and more than anything I thrive on long-term stability, something that admittedly eludes me to this day.

I’m also a stats junkie, and it always amazes me that an organization called the Elias Sports Bureau can very quickly recall statistics like “most MLB career postseason strikeouts by a left-handed pitcher during games four played at home,” a stat that I just made up but I can guarantee you they could tell me within about five minutes of analysis. Statistics have always fascinated me and I wish I had the math skills to attempt a career in the field. I think that’s got a lot to do with it as well, this is my way of quantifying my life in a concrete form that I can easily measure.

So here’s where my streaks lie on the various things that I keep streaks on. Everything is current as of today, except where noted.

Consecutive days recording at least my morning vitals: 492.

Consecutive days recording my caloric intake to the best of my ability: 276.

Consecutive days tracking my mood and activities in my mood tracking app: 236, current as of yesterday. (This is one of the last things I do before turning out the lights at night, so I haven’t recorded today’s entry yet.)

Consecutive days completing my exercises in my Elevate and Duolingo learning apps: 156.

Consecutive days completing at least some math study on Khan Academy: 55.

Consecutive days achieving full marks on my daily checklist: 7, current as of yesterday.

I’m most proud of that last one. Doing everything on my checklist is difficult and takes a considerable amount of effort, especially on days when I’m not well mentally or physically. This is the second longest such streak since I started my checklist in October 2014, and I’m hoping to surpass my record of 12 consecutive days with this current streak.

And as George Carlin once said at the end of one of his routines, “I don’t have an ending written for this, so I just take a small bow.”