Do you remember Jerry Seinfeld?
Did you know that he used a simple technique on a daily basis to reach his goals and to become a great comedian?
His method is called “Don’t break the chain”, and it is based on this exact logic. It can be used to track small daily goals or to reach a long-term objective.
Let’s get to the details.
His Motivation Technique to Reach Goals
A couple of months ago, I have read an article on Lifehacker about this particular productivity and motivation technique and as I had not heard of it before, I thought I take a closer look.
According to that post, Seinfeld uses (or used) one of the most visual ways to track his progress. To become a great comedian, he followed a simple philosophy which works.
What did he do?
He put a big yearly calendar on a prominent wall and after he completed his specific task each day, he marked it off on the calendar with a red marker. After a few days, he had a chain of crosses which constantly grew. To see it grow boots motivation to keep going. And to keep going successfully, he has the following advice:
“Don’t break the chain.” – Jerry Seinfeld, Comedian
Sounds easy right?
I am currently trying out this motivation technique myself, as I would like to work more while standing up. I am only one week in, but it feels great already that I am doing it regularly for a couple of hours (less back pain) and I get to tick off a box or a day for that matter!
This method should work. Why? Because daily action does not only show progress, it builds slowly new habits. As an example, to go running daily as of tomorrow let’s us practice and through practice we learn. The less we interrupt this new activity the quicker we learn, the more motivation we have to keep going and the more focus we gain. So, my objective to participate at the next half marathon would get confirmed through the progress I see after one month of daily exercise.
As it takes time to achieve, our motivation level can go down. And skipping one day of the new chain can make a great excuse to skip the next day.
With realistic goals, any small action every single day will get us closer, step by step.
What You Need to Do to Follow His Principle
1. Organize a Calendar
- Buy a physical 2013 wall calender or print out this one, which allows you to start at any day of the year and stick on a wall (where you pass by daily).
- If you like to use an online version, there is an online calendar available to mark your days which can be integrated into iGoogle or Google Chrome.
- For the mobile people among you, there is an app called Lift which helps to build new habits. I love it! Although it does not have the same visual effect, you have encouragement from other people instead who pursue similar goals.
2. Remind yourself of your biggest goal for 2013 (or for any period for that matter)
3. Think of a single action that would allow you to reach this goal if you completed it every single day.
4. OPTIONAL: Break down this action into small tasks (on a weekly basis). So, for example, if you want to learn how to sing. The first days, you will need to find a good singing class or online tutorials, you might need to enroll, and then start practicing on a daily basis, just 10-15 minutes.
5. Highlight milestones on your calendar.
6. Start crossing off day by day!
7. And: “Don’t break the chain!”
Now, what is your favorite method to stay productive and reach your goals? Have you tried Jerry Seinfeld’s approach before? Leave a comment!
For those of you who thought joking is easy, take a look at this 5 minute interview with Jerry Seinfeld on writing a joke. Enjoy!
Seinfeld image to the courtesy of Alan Light