This was originally published in the “Career Hacks” column of a client’s internal newsletter; shared with permission.
Years ago, Jerry Seinfeld surprised a struggling young comedian by sharing his secret for success: be consistent. He didn’t mean being consistently funny, but being consistent in your work to improve and reach your goal.
Each of us has at least one action that would make an enormous difference in our career if we did it every day. Maybe it’s writing. Maybe it’s spending one hour reading news in your field. Maybe it’s connecting with peers. But taking the action every day – for Seinfeld, it was writing jokes – is where the challenge comes in.
Seinfeld found a leverage technique to keep himself going even when he didn’t feel like it. He kept a large, one-year calendar hanging in a prominent place. Every day that he worked on writing jokes he marked with a big, red X. As one day followed the next, the X’s formed a chain. “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,” said Seinfeld. The longer the chain gets, the greater the motivation will be to not break it, and the more established your new habit will become.
Identify your action, keep track every day, and whatever you do, don’t break the chain.