The Seinfeld Approach to Self-Discipline

Whether you love Seinfeld or not, you can’t deny that Jerry Seinfeld has been, and still is, a huge success both on the Comedy scene and also in business. I’ve read often about his very simple approach to holding himself accountable to get tasks done and I find it appealing in its logic and simplicity. He attributes this method to becoming a better and more successful comedian and it is the advice he gives to others to help them achieve their goals.

The ideas is this:

You have on your wall or in some prominent space in your house a calendar for the entire year. (I printed beautiful monthly A4 calendars from The Organised Housewife for the remainder of this year.)

Each day you do something physical to move yourself towards your goal – it can be small but it must be something real and tangible. Once done you can cross off the day on the calendar.

After a few days you see a chain of crosses starting to appear on your calendar and your focus is to not break the chain. Don’t break the chain! The visual representation of your goals coming to life is right in front of you and you will not want to cause a break in your success.

Throughout the day, you will have in your mind that you want to put a cross on that calendar so your goals will be foremost in your mind and you will be itching to do something productive rather than finding ways to put off the life you want until tomorrow.

Here is how I have implemented Seinfeld’s method in my own life this week:

Last Sunday I printed off those calendars for the rest of 2012. I spent that day brainstorming four goals that I wanted to achieve each and every day and I’m calling this my Daily Practice. (I’ll be sharing more about this Daily Practice in my next post – it’s a borrowed idea from someone else I really admire). I wrote the goals on my calendar (if you use those that I suggested you’ll see there’s a section for doing exactly that!).

My four goals are:

  • To eat whole foods (non-processed) and mostly gluten-free, to eat two meals a day and perhaps one snack and to stay away from sugar. If there is a special occasion (wedding, birthday) I can indulge in a nice dessert.
  • To exercise each day via body weight exercises – at the moment these consist of either push-ups or squats
  • To meditate each day from anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes.
  • To work on creating passive income.

I’ll likely be adding a fifth goal to this list this week as amazingly it has become increasingly obvious that there is an area of my life really holding me back. Now I say amazingly because although I expected subtle shifts of improvement in my life from following a Daily Practice and the Seinfeld Approach, I didn’t expect the changes to be quite so dramatic and obvious. Again, more on that in the next post!

You don’t need to have four goals per day, just one will do. You can use the Seinfeld Approach to be more productive or to help you get you diet straightened out. The first thing you want to do is organise the calendar and once that is done you can choose your goal. Have a brightly coloured marker available to start crossing off the days. I personally put a big asterisk in each day on the calendar, probably because as a teacher crosses mean something else to me!

Give it a try and let me know whether this method of accountability works for you and how it changes the way in which you approach your day.

Gotta love Seinfeld!

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