Smash any goal for 2015 using the Seinfeld Strategy

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Jerry Seinfeld's producivity secretJerry Seinfeld is arguably one of the most successful comedians of our time. Wealthy beyond words, he ran his smash hit show ‘Seinfeld’ year after year which snapped up countless awards and all without ever running short of material.

So how did he do it? The answer is actually much simpler than you may think and it’s a proven method to helping you effectively smash any goal you set for 2015.

Jerry’s secret strategy?

He used a system whereby he would aim to write one joke every day. That’s it – just one joke. Not five, not ten just one.

Once he’d written his joke he would place a big red cross over that day on his calendar and after a few days of doing this a chain would form. The system then became about not breaking the chain, rather than the joke itself.

The genius behind the Seinfeld Strategy is that the smallest increment of work can add up to a project of mammoth sized proportions and you don’t get overwhelmed in the process. Let’s think about this in music terms; say you want to build a fan base on YouTube. Don’t think about the massive task ahead of how you are going to get to 1000 then 10,000+ subscribers and how many awesome videos everyone else has; instead just think about doing one music video each week, every week. Once you’ve done that, tick off your calendar.

Or say you want to improve your instrumentation skills; just go for 15 minutes of practice per day. That’s it! 15 minutes of concentrated practice and once you’ve done it get your red pen out. After a while you’ll have such a long chain of red crosses on your calendar you will do anything not to break the chain.

Trust me it works – I’ve been applying it to my own piano practice for the last six months and my skills have skyrocketed. Even on days when I can’t be bothered practicing I know that if I just do my 15 minutes I’ll get my red cross and the chain stays intact. Its serious motivation and it pays serious compound interest.

I personally think the psychology behind the Seinfeld Strategy runs much deeper. Quite often the biggest obstacle between you and success is inaction. How many times have you written a goal, poured all of your best intentions into it and stuck it up somewhere on your wall at home in a place where you’re bound to see it every day, hoping that it will subliminally make you achieve it; only to have it stare at you malevolently and still be unticked by the end of the year?

The Seinfeld Strategy puts an end to this vicious cycle. Now you get small wins every day in the form of another link in your chain and by the end of the month; a whole page full of red crosses!! You can see your progress growing each day and by the end of the year you’ll know that you did everything you could to achieve that goal.

So, whatever your grand plan is for 2015, break it down to the smallest increment possible and make that into your actionable system. Focus only on completing that one task and getting that red cross and before you know it, you’ll not only reach your goal, you’ll smash it.

Just remember, whatever you do… ‘don’t break the chain’.

Article reference: http://lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-secret

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nicola Milan provides free tips for improving your singing, songwriting and performance craft on her website Singer’s Secret. Head to www.singerssecret.com for free singing lessons and tips.

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  • This is really good advice. Keeping the chain of the red crosses going becomes a motivator in itself. The red ink is a smart visual display of an accomplishment. If you miss a day, another motivator is to break the previous record.

  • This is really good advice. Keeping the chain of the red crosses going becomes a motivator in itself. The red ink is a smart visual display of an accomplishment. If you miss a day, another motivator is to break the previous record.

  • Alan Popa

    This is the same system that Jack White recommends in his song Little Acorns. It really is the secret to success. Easier said than done? For sure. But if you are serious about reaching a goal then the plan is there. I hope that I can truly internalize this valuable lesson. And you?

    • Well now I have to go and re-listen to some Jack White. Thanks for sharing.

      @ChrisRobley

      • Alan Popa

        It´s actually in the intro to the song.

  • Love it. One step at the time. Thanks.

  • I love the visual element of this. It’s one this to ignore a goal in your mind, it’s another to stare at the ugly break in the chain for the rest of the month.

  • Henrique

    That’s indeed an excellent approach. To make it even better, it could – actually, it should – be tied to some kind of deadline. For example: everyday day I’ll write a piece of melody, but I must have a song finished in five days no matter what.

    • Karl Bronie

      Actually, tying it to some kind of deadline completely defeats the purpose and the effectiveness of the strategy. If you do tie in to a deadline (of any kind, whatsoever), you place pressure upon your self and set yourself up for failure. Why? Because the first time you don’t make your goal, you feel as though you have failed. Then you give up, say, “What’s the point” and 6 months later you’re back online trying to find some miracle-cure to success.

      The ONLY reason this process works and has been proven to be effective, is that you do NOT place any type of deadline, goal, etc. on this method. Seinfeld and other successful artists, business people, etc., all say the same thing; “It doesn’t mater what you produce or create – simply that you do the process every day”. Don’t focus on the motion (“Gotta get this done so I have a song written in 5 days!”), focus on the action (“I must write every day”). You will get better simply by the process.

      “Trust the process, not the end of the journey”. If you set up a goal, “Song must be done every five days”, you will eventually hit a wall and your process will end. But, if you say, “I write every day” and you do… guess what? You will.

  • Stephen Farrington

    There are actually really good evolutionary biology reasons for why this works so well. You get a hit of the happy brain chemical dopamine every time you make the red check, because visual attainment of a goal (such as finding food, in caveman days) releases dopamine. Dopamine is also responsible for some addictions – it is can be released by alcohol and tobacco consumption – but you can leverage positive addiction to achieve your goals by putting those red X’s on your calendar and checking things off a To-Do list. Visual markers!

  • Done With It

    ….and team with Larry David, who is the actual funny guy writing the shows.

  • BLUE

    I’ve sat down and made something in Ableton for at least a half an hour everyday since June. I have to tell myself sometimes that I just need to let go and I have to accept that I may not make amazing songs somedays. Even when you aren’t doing anything ground breaking or amazing you are still making progress.. baby steps and what is crazy is how much better I have gotten.

  • I have been doing this for many year, practicing my horn every day, recording and composing. I am work on CD 36 and composition opus 219. Just a little everyday or more.

  • Logan

    If you want to improve your instrumentation as a complete novice, then 15 minutes is fine. If you want to actually GET BETTER at your instrument so that you can play well on stage, practice at least half an hour a day. Preferrably way more

  • Love it!

  • I used the same approach to wipe out a mountain of debt. I laid everything out in a spreadsheet and established a payoff date for each obligation and then broke that down into monthly increments. Got me out of debt a lot faster. You can accomplish almost anything if you first create a plan. Break the big goal into small, manageable chunks and then tackle those one at a time. The hard part is in sticking with your plan. You really learn a lot about self control. You also have to plan for unexpected setbacks. A little risk management goes a long way. I use the same approach when planning my band’s albums. Fifteen minutes of planning saves an hour of work.

    • Stephen Farrington

      A plan is critical. Jay King, a rather successful artist and producer, prescribes: Study, Plan, Organize, Execute… and he is specific about the order.

  • Anthony Olivares

    Doesn’t hurt to give it a try…

  • Henrique

    Hi Karl, thank you for the reply! Well, I can only talk from personal experience here. In my case, I find that if I have too much time to work on a particular song I tend to get stuck on writing the lyrics, nit-picking every detail. If, however, I know that I don’t have all the time in the world to finish it, then I get to focus more on the big picture.

    Actually, if you think about it, this has a lot to do with the principle of scarcity, which was really well explained in Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence”. Basically, the less we have of something (in this case, time) the more we value it.

    As I said, I’m also a big fan of grinding day after day, it’s just that for me it’s not enough. But of course everyone has a different approach, and if yours is helpful for your creative process, then all is fine in the end.

  • Henrique

    Hi Karl, thank you for the reply! Well, I can only talk from personal experience here. In my case, I find that if I have too much time to work on a particular song I tend to get stuck on writing the lyrics, nit-picking every detail. If, however, I know that I don’t have all the time in the world to finish it, then I get to focus more on the big picture.

    Actually, if you think about it, this has a lot to do with the principle of scarcity, which was really well explained in Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence”. Basically, the less we have of something (in this case, time) the more we value it.

    As I said, I’m also a big fan of grinding day after day, it’s just that for me it’s not enough. But of course everyone has a different approach, and if yours is helpful for your creative process, then all is fine in the end.

  • Henrique

    Hi Karl, thank you for the reply! Well, I can only talk from personal experience here. In my case, I find that if I have too much time to work on a particular song I tend to get stuck on writing the lyrics, nit-picking every detail. If, however, I know that I don’t have all the time in the world to finish it, then I get to focus more on the big picture.

    Actually, if you think about it, this has a lot to do with the principle of scarcity, which was really well explained in Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence”. Basically, the less we have of something (in this case, time) the more we value it.

    As I said, I’m also a big fan of grinding day after day, it’s just that for me it’s not enough. But of course everyone has a different approach, and if yours is helpful for your creative process, then all is fine in the end.

    • Stephen Farrington

      I think you are both right. The red X’s on the calendar help establish a habit of daily attention to your art, especially for people who do not already have that discipline. For people who have established that habit, the deadlines help assure that they actually finish projects. The danger of deadlines to establishing daily habits is that when deadlines seem far off we tend to take days off, and also once we achieve the deadlines, we tend to take days off.