Admit it, , you thought of someone who would be a secret streaker didn't you?
Well, you can put that mental image aside because I'm not referring to THAT type of streaking. I'm talking about the good (and legal) kind: where you pick an activity that you'd like to do on a regular basis and then do it every day or every week for as long as you can. It's a positive move with a negative incentive: whatever you do, don't break the streak.
I'm in the midst of a streak myself. Today is day 49 of running at least 22 minutes. I have a real-live paper calendar hanging on the wall and I X out each day with a black magic marker as I go. Nobody else is doing it with me so there's no real competition. And, until I sat down to write about it to you now, not many people even know I'm doing it. It's really just a game or a trick I play on myself to get me to do something I really ought to do.
Streaks force you to prioritize your chosen activity, rather than fitting it in when you can.
Last year, I did a challenge in February that was really fruitful: for the second month of the year I had to run two miles and write two pages every day. It turned out great, the running was good and I ended up with around 30,000 words on paper. The problem with this challenge, though, was that once February was over, so too were my running/writing goals.
So, in that regard, my efforts were great but only while they lasted.
My friend, Susan, is the queen of personal challenges and games. Whenever I would visit her house she'd have a chart pinned to her refrigerator to record her progress on some goal or other. Whether it be for exercise or wellness or for sales and other work goals, she always had an elaborate system of tasks and rewards to keep herself motivated to work hard. She knew that her naturally competitive nature would ensure she won every incentive - even if she was the only one in the game. Which is probably why she's one of the most conscientious people I know.
As for me, reward systems tend to have a bizarrely de-motivating effect (turns out I have no problem rewarding myself either way) and I fare far better by doing things for their own sake. Hence my current fondness for streaks. I'm keeping it up for the sake of the streak - and, in the case of running, the rewards are inherent.
The secret, if there was one, is probably to find the formula that works best for you.
Perhaps streaking can also work for this concept I keep harping on about using email to nurture members and donors. Like, say you decide you want to email your nonprofit's mailing list every week, so you begin an email streak that you get to check off each and every week. In order to make sure you don't break your streak, you'll need to prioritize that particular activity and organize your time in advance. Or, similarly, perhaps you decide that you want to spend 30 minutes a day - everyday - writing...so that you have enough content to email your audience each week. A daily streak would really help sharpen your skills and accomplish your emailing goals.
These are both totally doable. It's a matter of putting your chosen activity into the spotlight. And the rewards, in this case, will show up in the form of better member retention, better engagement, and better fundraising results over time.
So, I'm officially encouraging you to go streaking. But beware: it may be habit forming.
P.S. Apparently streak running is kind of a big deal. I came across the website for Streak Runners International and discovered that there are currently 3,849 registered streaks going on right now - who knew!? And these folks are SERIOUS, too. You can't even sign up for the site until you've got at least a year of uninterrupted running days under your belt. And the longest streak as of today is by a 71-year old writer in Utah - he started his streak in 1969 and has been running for 19,266 consecutive days. That's nearly 53 years! Surely I can make it a while longer...
P.P.S. Here's my real-live check-off calendar: