It’s hard to believe that the TV show Seinfeld has been out of production for over twenty years. I say “out of production” because Seinfeld reruns seem to live on forever. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Seinfeld. And I’ll never be able to look at a Junior Mint without laughing again.
I knew that Jerry Seinfeld was one of the producers and writers of the show, in addition to being a stand-up comedian. What I didn’t know was that many people use his writing technique as a method for developing habits. I’ve been seeing lots of references to the “Seinfeld Strategy” lately, so I decided to do some research.
Basically, Seinfeld says that the secret to his productivity success is consistency. As a writer, he felt the way to achieve success was to write something every day. It didn’t always have to be his best work and that was okay. It also doesn’t mean you can simply phone it in. But the goal was to give it your all every day.
Once he completed his writing for the day, Seinfeld would mark the day with a big red “X” on his office calendar. As time progressed, those big red X’s formed a chain. And he liked it. The big chain of red X’s motivated him to write more. And writing more made him better.
So, the Seinfeld Strategy to creating and maintaining good habits is to never break the chain.
I was reminded of the Seinfeld Strategy recently because someone posted an image on Facebook with the names of months of the year and inside each month’s name were numbers representing each day. The idea being that, if you’re trying to create and maintain a habit every day you do something – like let’s say exercise – then you color in the day. If you exercise every day in the month, then the month’s name will eventually be colored in. If you do that every day for a year, you’ll have a very colorful memento of your progress and accomplishments.
As we start the year, we might have some new habits we’re trying to form. Or old habits that we need to get back on track. Using the Seinfeld Strategy could be a fun and effective way to monitor our progress. You can put your “tracker” on the refrigerator as a reminder. Or if it’s something private, you can tuck it away in a journal or planner.
You could also use the “tracker” with other family members. Maybe the habit you’d like to work on is a group activity.
Creating and maintaining habits is hard. Finding fun ways to track our progress can make it enjoyable. The result is we’ve developed a new habit, which is what we wanted to do all along.