“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is a habit, not an act.” -Aristotle
In his excellent book, Atomic Habits (I highly recommend), the author James Clear tells the story of Jerry Seinfeld giving advice to Brad Isaac, a young comic just starting out in the comedy club circuit…
“The way to be a better comic is to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes is to write every day…Get out a big wall calendar and hang it on a prominent wall in your house. Get out a big red marker. Every day you write a joke, make a big red X over that day. After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”
We can apply this to anything we’re trying to do. Any habit we’re trying to form. The key is to make it simple and actionable.
Write one page.
Do 20 pushups.
Read one scene from a play.
Send one thank you note.
Whatever it is, just keep doing it. Day in. Day out.
Don’t judge your effort. Don’t worry if it’s “good”.
Just stay with it.
Just don’t break the chain.
(Warning: You might be shocked by your progress.)