We all have a problem with doing what we say we’re going to do. Daily action builds habits. It gives you practice and that’s what it takes to be an expert (of anything) in a short time. Skipping one day gives you an excuse to easily skip the next. If you don’t break the momentum, you’ll start to spot opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t. Small changes snowball effect into large changes fast because daily action creates a sort of “compounding interest.”
Jerry Seinfeld said (to Brad) the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. After reading that article and thinking back to Calvin Coolidge’s quote about persistence it sort of clicked for me. High-level performers in any field — athletes, musicians, CEOs, artists — are all more consistent than their peers. They show up every day and deliver while everyone else is defeated by the urgencies of daily life and in a constant battle between procrastination and motivation. I’d rather be in the same corner with someone who will take action — even if small — every day as opposed to someone who swings hard once or twice a week.
Daily action creates greater benefits than sitting down and trying to knock out (i.e.) an entire chapter of your novel in one day. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and we can use it to motivate yourself — even when you don’t feel like it. It’s the red X.
- You get a wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall.
- Get a red marker.
- Each day that you do your task, you get to put a big red X over that day.
- Don’t break the chain.
“You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
Let’s take a look at where you and I often find ourselves often. We have an idea for the next great book, but that idea doesn’t do anyone any good if it’s still in your head. We want to create, or we want to exercise but we struggle to do so and fail to find the motivation. We deeply want to achieve our goals but still procrastinate on them.
If your goal is to lose weight, for instance, you can take a one hour walk during your lunch break or trek to work instead of driving. Small adjustments like these add up in the long run and make lofty goals far more manageable.
We consistently assume that excellence requires some grandiose effort and our ambitious goals demand huge amounts of willpower and motivation. But really, all we need is the dedication to small, manageable tasks. Mastery follows consistency.
Consistency works because it isn’t a single monumental effort that gets us where we want to go, it is the consistency of showing up every day that builds extraordinary outcomes. Make moves every day.
Apply this strategy to your own life to curb the procrastination. Start your own chain. Pick up a calendar (here’s one I made) and start your chain. Pick a task that’s easy to maintain and of produces or contributes to the results you want.
Take a moment to think about what daily action would make the most profound impact on your life if you did it every day. Put that on your calendar. Start today and earn your big red X. And from here on out…
Don’t break the chain!
Don’t break the chain on your workout routine and you’ll find that you get fit rather quickly.
Don’t break the chain in your artistry and you’ll produce great creative work on a regular basis.
But I also want to take my writing habits to the next level and write 1,000 words each day. Some of those will translate to issues of Diligent Procrastination and others might turn into books and courses.