I started using Habitbull a while ago to try and keep myself on track with blogging. It seemed to work for a while, with me responding to the notification and updating where I had got to with blogging. Then I stopped updating it daily and started updating it weekly. Then I stopped updating it weekly and just swiped the notification away unless I had written something. Then I stopped writing.
Now I’m not trying to say that using a habit tracker killed my motivation to write, because I’ve been struggling to get myself motivated to write anyway, but I do think that it exaggerated the negative feelings I had about not writing, guilt, a sense of underachieving, frustration, etc.
I’m still reading the book Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn and have been reading about gamification.
I think that we can see with habit trackers that they go to some length to “gamify” the experience, by offering points, competitions or other in-app rewards. To most of us, this seems like a generally good idea to help people stay on track with keeping a good habit. However, this overlooks the initial reasoning and value behind wanting to develop good habits and break bad ones, which will be many varied and complex reasons. When we exchange these complex reasons for points, we end up detaching the habits from the original value they held for us, and thereby diminishing the intrinsic motivation we had to start changing our habits in the first place.
So I’m going to uninstall Habitbull and just go back to doing what I want, when I want, for the reasons I want to. I started this blog with the intention of helping others by sharing what tools and techniques had helped me be more productive, my journey in trying to become more productive and also help myself by writing as much as I can as often as I can. When I started tracking my progress so that I could take pride in getting a good streak going, I started losing interest in the activities I would need to do to maintain the streak.
There is still value in recording our progress and evaluating how things are going, it’s only when we start attaching points or rewards to the results that we start creating problems.
I think that what really delights and engages us when we’re trying something new is to see progress more than anything else, and that’s what I’m going to aim for from now on in my life, progress, not results (because even negative results contribute to growth) or rewards.