The Seinfeld Strategy

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In her recent release, The 4% Fix, bestselling author Karma Brown shares time-management and goal-setting strategies that have worked for her as well as for others. Here’s one strategy recommended by Jerry Seinfeld:

Brad Isaac was a young comedian just starting out when one night he ended up at a club where Jerry Seinfeld was performing. He was able to catch up with the king of comedy backstage and asked Seinfeld if he had any tips for a newbie on the comedy circuit.

The story goes that Seinfeld told Isaac the way to be a better comic was to write better jokes, and the way to write better jokes was to write every day. Every day. He told Isaac to get a wall calendar and hang it somewhere he would see it regularly, then, with a red marker, put a big X through each day he wrote. He explained that, after a few days, Isaac would see a chain of those X marks, and after a few weeks, that long chain would be pretty satisfying. Isaac’s only job, Seinfeld told him, was to not break the chain.

This has been referred to as the “Seinfeld Strategy.” One of the main reasons it works is because it removes the pressure of focusing on a huge accomplishment (for Isaac, to deliver the best ever comedic performance, à la Jerry Seinfeld) and moves your gaze instead to a smaller, more manageable and results-based goal: write every day. It’s process-based rather than performance-based, so it isn’t about how “on” Isaac might feel during a performance, or how motivated he is, but rather about growing the chain of X days. A simple, habit-focused task.

Source: The 4% Fix by Karma Brown


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