Creating Small Habits for Big Change: The Seinfeld Strategy
As a company, we kicked off 2021 reading the book Atomic Habits together. The overriding premise is that we can make incremental changes that have exponential impact. One concept is the power of improving something by just 1% every single day. It might not feel like much in the moment: run 1% further every day, eat 1% less dessert every night, improve an action at work by 1% every day. Over time, though, if you improve by 1% every day for a year, you’ll become 37 times better.
This improvement relies on setting the right habits and following through. It’s a good concept to apply to financial habits, too. To help us get started, we’re taking a cue from a master. Jerry Seinfeld is one of the most successful comedians the world has ever seen. But how did he get there? What’s in Seinfeld’s “secret sauce”? Habits.
Seinfeld has been credited with something now referred to as the “Seinfeld Strategy.” The story goes that to help him overcome procrastination and beat infamous writer’s block, he used a simple calendar tracking method. His singular habit goal: work on writing jokes, every day. Every day he worked on his writing, he got to put a big X on the calendar.
This sounds pretty straightforward, right? That’s the beauty of it. Simple action, easy to start, big impact.
A few keys to using this strategy:
- Pick the right habit. For Seinfeld, the power was in the writing. If he had chosen “research good jokes every day,” the outcome would have been different. What makes sense for you to incorporate as a daily habit?
- Make the calendar prominent. You want this tracker to be front-and-center. You want your brain to pick-up on the chain that starts to form when you string together a number of days. You need that queue, that constant reminder. Seinfeld apparently suggested a large wall calendar that stays close to the place you perform your routine — your desk, kitchen, etc.
- Don’t break the (productivity) chain. You’re not focusing on results. It didn’t matter if Seinfeld was writing good jokes. It was the action, and the absence of procrastination, that mattered. Your one goal for this habit-forming activity: don’t break the chain.
The “Seinfeld Strategy” can be applied to any of the right habits that will support your success. When looking at financial habits, what’s something you could do or improve regularly for atomic results? Maybe it’s socking away a little extra money every day through an app like Acorns, or tracking your spending every day. Maybe it’s reviewing one bill a day to assess whether it’s still something you want or if there’s a better option out there.
At a simple level, as it says in Atomic Habits, you get what you repeat. We wanted to share this with you as an easy way to kick-start your financial habits game. Click here to download our free, customizable “Seinfeld Strategy” calendar!
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