I had a coaching client who could not resist buying a packet of biscuits a day. It was her obsession and it made her extremely sad.
Through a set of clever tactics we devised she managed to go 1, 2, 5, then 7 biscuit free days until eventually the obsession was broken. A new normal had been created.
In the same way, we build bad habits so we break bad habits by ‘breaking the chain” and creating positive behavioural streaks.
The Jerry Seinfeld method
One of the most successful comedians of all-time Jerry Seinfeld is well known for creating winning streaks as a system for success.
There is a story about when he was asked for tips by budding comedian Brad Isaac backstage.
Jerry said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.
“He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put 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.”
You’ll notice that Seinfeld didn’t say a single thing about the results.
It didn’t matter if he was motivated or not. It didn’t matter if he was writing great jokes or not. All that mattered was “not breaking the chain.”
When applied to health, for example, the best way to get stronger is to lift heavier weights and the best way to do that is to go to the gym a few times a week to do so.
The good way to lose weight is to reduce unnecessary eating and an effective way to do that is to stop incidents of late-night snacking.
Let’s do a ‘Habit Setting” exercise right now.
Ask yourself – What habits do you want to build or break to make your life better right now?
To make it easier for you we have put together a Sleekgeek habit tracking tool that you can download for FREE here. Print out and put on your fridge or anywhere visible and start to create streaks on some of the habits you want to change in your life.
Simply list the habit you want to create or break and tick it off with an “X”. Try not to do too many things at a time and make sure they are simple and reasonable enough to be doable.
We always teach that you do not have to be perfect. So don’t sweat it if you miss a day – just pick yourself up and try to be better.
You are what you repeatedly do.