Consistency is key
Starting with something is the easy part. Sticking with it and making it a habit is the hard part. We’ve all had New Year’s resolutions – such as going to the gym regularly – that we abandoned after a few weeks. In her best-selling book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, psychologist Angela Duckworth wrote:
Staying on the treadmill is one thing, and I do think it’s related to staying true to our commitments even when we’re not comfortable. But getting back on the treadmill the next day, eager to try again, is in my view even more reflective of grit. Consistency over the long run is everything.
Going onto the treadmill is good. But it useless if you just do it once. If you want to be successful, you need to step on it the next day, too. And the day after that. You know what’s easier than exercising every second day? Right – exercising every single day. But how can you make sure to do something every single day and, thus, to build a successful habit?
A so-called Habit Calendar is one of the simplest yet most effective productivity tools out there. Basically, it’s just a normal yearly calendar on which you tick off the days on which you did a certain thing. For example: one of us here at Butleroy uses such a calendar for going to the gym. Every day that he exercises, he gets to mark this day with an X. He has been doing this for five months now. The result? He has never missed more than one workout in a row. Sometimes, he needs a rest day, or simply cannot make the time for exercising. But he gets back on track the very next day. Thus, the habit calendar has helped him to train more than ever before. On average, he manages to go to the gym on 6 out of 7 days – all thanks to the Habit Calendar.
There are several benefits that make the habit calendar so effective:
- It reminds you of doing what you want to do. You will want to hang this calendar somewhere prominent; maybe on a wall that you are passing every few minutes. So you will never forget to do it.
- It helps avoiding decision fatigue. The question you will be asking yourself will shift from if you are going to do it to when you are going to do it.
- Checking off a day serves as a reward. You will feel great after having achieved your daily goal.
- The longer your streak will be, the less likely you will be willing to let it die.
The Seinfeld Strategy is named after the famous comedian Jerry Seinfeld. When asked about the key to success, he said that it’s all a matter of habit. Seinfeld made it a habit to write 100 words each day. No matter if he feels like it or not, he just sits down and writes. His jokes don’t have to be good. He just writes. More often than not, his creativity starts flowing and he keeps on writing well after those 100 words. As soon as he has met (or exceeded) his goal, he marks this day on a calendar with an X. Basically, the Seinfeld Strategy is the same thing as a Habit Calendar. The goal is to keep the streak going. You want to build a chain of Xs.
If you are a millennial and a Snapchat user, you know this principle. You don’t want the streak to die, that’s why you keep snapping with your best friends. And you can use this strategy for anything. Maybe you want to do yoga for 15min, write one page, or call five sales leads every single day. What you do doesn’t matter. Set yourself an easily achievable goal. And achieve it day after day after day after day – without destroying the chain. This is how experts in any field have become experts: by working hard, every single day, no matter what.
If you want to read more about this strategy, check out this Medium article.
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