1000 days of Apple watching.
1000 days of filling up rings.
I am not sure it has been a net positive.
I still remember clearly the first evening where I almost did not fill my rings. The annoyance at not wanting to break a streak, added to the annoyance of the system gaming me to make me fill it anyway, combined, still, with a slight satisfaction once I made my goal after all.
That set me off right from the start feeling the whole system was rigged incorrectly, and it has not been changed at all in the years since.
The core issue
My fundamental annoyance is still that I feel that the reward structure - if it really works for you - can only put you in either of two groups:
- Either, it motivates you to do better and better until you fail to reach a goal and lose your streak. Pushing you until you back or break down seems like a bad recepie for long-term success
- Or, it motivates you to set up a routine where you reach the goals without changing them and without risking over-exertion. Playing it safe. The circles are steady, predictable, planned, and much more of a chore than anything else. They need to be done every day, so there is never any true rest day. Which also means less motivation to do something truly exhausting one day, because you will not be able to rest completely the day after
My problem is that I am really good at keeping routines, so I was in the second group ever since the beginning. I imagine that is the only one if you end up trying to fill circles over time. I wonder if the first group has a large portion of new watch users, then rapidly drops off in number of people. Are there any year-three circle fillers still in the first group? I have used my initial red ring goal ever since I started. It is a very easy goal to hit on any reasonably active day, but I have never raised it since I need to be able to hit it every single day, no exceptions, if I want to maintain my streak.
People have wanted Apple to add rest days, and I think that would be a good idea. But I feel there should be a lot more that could be done if your goal really is to motivate people to get healthier. Chasing ever-increasing goals and maintaining streaks feels more like an easy way to motivate those already moving regularly. Surely Apple can think of something more fun, creative, and motivational?
I do appreciate that the watch makes me want to move more, but I resent it for being on my mind so much. I would probably feel more relaxed if I did not care, or did not wear. But would I also be healthier? It is impossible to tell. I always wanted everything to be tracked before I wore it.
Any year now?
Even with these frustrations, I do enjoy my Apple watch both for its health and activity tracking, and for it as a plain nice accessory.
I never thought I would end up with anywhere near this many bands.
Looking back at what I wrote after 100 and 365 days, things seem to be very much the same. Still somewhat gaming the system, still picking up watch bands, still feeling more likely than not to pick up a new watch should this one break tomorrow.
Time to move on?
It might be time - or long overdue - for the training wheels to come off. This was something discussed ages ago on M vs M: that a streak and the routine to maintain it in a way is like training wheels: something to keep you going in the right direction while learning. Taking off the training wheels means letting go of the routine and see how things work out without the artificial supports. I think this is where I should go.