The Seinfeld Strategy: Stopping Procrastination With An X
Jerry Seinfeld is an American comedian, actor, writer and director. He is known for co-creating the sitcom ‘Seinfeld’, which he created with his good friend Larry David (one of my favourite human beings). The show became known to be one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms of all time. As of 2020, Jerry’s net worth is over $950 million. He has his own Netflix show called ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’, and hosts a series of stand-up specials. By almost any measure of personality, wealth and accolades, Jerry Seinfeld is the master in his domain. The Seinfeld strategy is what’s helped Seinfeld write jokes consistently for decades.
Although the Netflix shows, the wealth and the awards are impressive in its own right- it’s the formidable consistency in which he delivers. Year after year Seinfeld performs, creates, writes and entertains at a world-class standard.
How is it that Seinfeld can reach great consistency and have great success, but when we compare his achievements to ours, we procrastinate on our goals?
What strategies does Jerry Seinfeld use to show up every day and consistently create? Here’s a quick story.
The Seinfeld Strategy
Software developer and aspiring comedian, Brad Isaac, met Jerry Seinfeld at one of his comedy shows. He asked Seinfeld what it takes to be a better comedian. Jerry responded, “The way to be a better comic is to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes is to write every day.” It was great advice, but Jerry continued and gave Isaac a more detailed process, which is what’s known today as ‘The Seinfeld Strategy’.
“He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day.” “After a few days, you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
The interaction that Seinfeld had said nothing about results. It brings to light the importance of the process and enjoying it through productivity rather than focusing on the result. It didn’t matter how great or how bad the jokes were, or whether Seinfeld was motivated or not. What mattered was not breaking the chain.
The Seinfeld strategy comes down to one idea. To build habits that stick, you must track your progress in a simple yet effective way.
We procrastinate in different areas of life. Sometimes we procrastinate to avoid something negative, other times it’s choosing pleasure over staying disciplined. To start the chain to build the habits we’re aiming for, we need to reduce the amount we procrastinate. We can do this in a couple of ways.
If we’re not organised, our productivity is hindered. Things become more difficult than they have to be and causes us to procrastinate due to the negative emotion of feeling incompetent.
Do this: Take a step by step approach. Create a list of what needs to be done to get organised. I’m sure you know someone who creates a list before going to the grocery store. Nothing worse than coming back home and forgetting the kale for your salad. The list gives signals to your brain of knowing what to do without feeling overwhelmed.
Remember Your Worth
Serena Williams, Lebron James, and Beyonce are all perfectionists. Sometimes the high standards we set for ourselves have the opposite effect of what we want. That’s when we begin to procrastinate and stop doing what we need to do because we convince ourselves the standards we have set ourselves are too high.
Do this: Remember the difference between who you are and what you’re setting out to achieve. Your self-worth is much more valuable than your achievements including your family, friends, how you treat people, your knowledge and even your freedom to travel.
Get Started With The Seinfeld Strategy
Set Your Goal. Decide what your goal is that you’re looking to achieve. It has to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based). For example;
Specific: I want to get to an optimal healthy weight
Measurable: I will lose 10kg
Attainable: I will accomplish this by going to the gym 3-4x a week and implement clean eating.
Relevant: It will allow me to become a happier and healthier person
Time-Based: 6 months from today
Set Up Your Routine
Routines are the small actions you take daily which reflect on the development of your goal. If performed consistently, you’ll complete your goal (sometimes quicker than expected). If it’s possible, create your routine which allows you to perform daily. If we’re using the example of getting to optimal weight, your daily routine may be to wake up at the same time every morning. It tricks your brain into acknowledging you have a goal to achieve. The more motivation you have, then the more momentum you have, which increases the chances of attaining your goal.
Use A Calendar
The calendar must be something you’re always near. You can set one up at work, or even at home. These days, our phones are our calendars. It’s important to not use this method because it’s visually distracting. Your brain also relates more positively by using paper and a pen. The calendar must be visually obvious and free from distraction so your goal and routine are always present in your mind. The calendar is what will hold you accountable. Seeing the crosses each day gives you more motivation to keep going and stay accountable
Never Miss Three Days In A Row
When we miss a routine, it often becomes a sore point, in which judging ourselves profusely and thinking we have failed becomes evident. Doing this removes the motivation rug right from under us. Be able to acknowledge you’ve missed a routine and allow yourself to re-commit and get back in the game. It’s okay to miss once or twice, but never allow yourself to miss a third time. If I miss part of my routine on a Saturday and Sunday, I’ll know I can’t skip out on Monday. If Monday is missed, it’s much harder to allow myself to re-commit because I haven’t started the week off right.
It’s All Sets And Reps
The Seinfeld strategy comes down to consistency. It’s all sets and reps to achieve your desired outcome. Look for a 1% improvement every day. If we look for 100% improvement daily, the focus is on results rather than the process. The process is what drives the results and if you enjoy the process, achieving your goal becomes much more rewarding and fulfilling.
“The truth is I really didn’t think that I could and I didn’t really care whether I could or I couldn’t. I just got to this point where I was so in love with it that I just decided, ‘What’s the difference? What’s the difference?’ It seemed much more important to do the thing you want to do than success or failure,” – Jerry Seinfeld