Some people say what motivates us to stick to our goals is the end result—for example, if I put time into learning the ins and outs of Excel, I’d be able to pull budget reports so much faster. But personally, I’m pretty impatient, which means I can’t wait months to reap the benefits of spending my evenings taking an online course and doing extra homework outside my job. I’m sure you can relate.
So how can we start to feel good about our habits today? For writer James Clear, all it takes is a calendar and a pen. He refers to this method as “the Seinfeld Strategy,” due to an urban legend that the actor himself used this simple strategy to force himself to come up with new material every day.
Although Seinfeld himself has come out and said he has no idea where this rumor came from or how it got attached to his name, the idea itself still resonated with me. (So thanks to whoever out there did come up with this.)
Here’s the gist: Every time you do what you say you’re going to do, you put a big “X” on your calendar.
That’s it. And it actually works, because once we see a row of X’s on our calendar, we feel motivated not to break the chain. So that means we get up and do our task again, and again, and every time we check off another box we get that satisfying feeling that we accomplished something.
Because honestly, when you’re trying to build up a new habit, it doesn’t matter how well you did something, but that you did it. If you think of it this way, the how well will come naturally—you’ll start to get better and better at using Excel over time. And best of all, when the end result does come, it’s just an added bonus, not the light at the end of the tunnel.