Way back, in one other life, I took a writing class with creator Heather Lewis.
Heather was a superb novelist and instructor, however an important factor she taught me wasn’t about literary method.
It was methods to construct a streak of successes.
A Streak Can Be Optimistic or Adverse
Typically—whether or not you’re writing a novel (as I used to be doing after I took Heather’s class), reaching your public talking targets, or tackling any undertaking that requires thought and energy, stamina and time—you inadvertently arrange a streak of days that really feel like failures.
That’s as a result of it’s simple to view no matter work you probably did on a given day as:
- Not sufficient (yesterday the undertaking was massive and in the present day the undertaking is nonetheless massive, so how a lot are you able to actually have achieved?), and
- Not adequate (since you’re an architect evaluating your self to Frank Lloyd Wright, or a public speaker evaluating your self to Tony Robbins).
This every day alternative to really feel ineffective is what causes so many people to procrastinate, even after we really wish to work on our tasks.
We would like the problem, however not the sense that we’re consistently failing to satisfy it.
So the trick is to arrange a problem that you simply can meet, after which meet it each day.
Changing Failure right into a Streak of Successes
In the system that I realized from Heather Lewis, the brand new problem is time. As a substitute of attempting to “write one thing actually good” every day, you write for a set period of time.
Once you attain that period of time, you cease, after which it’s a must to wait ’until tomorrow to write down extra.
The observe is magic, as a result of it replaces a aim that’s actually onerous to satisfy (doing sufficient, or doing it nicely sufficient) with a aim that’s simple and straightforward to measure.
All it’s a must to do is put in your time every day, and also you’ve added one other success to your streak. (Plus not having the ability to maintain writing makes you actively anticipate tomorrow’s session as a substitute of dreading it.)
In fact, there are a lot of methods to measure success beside the period of time that you simply’ve put in. You would benchmark the variety of:
- articles you edited,
- strains of code you wrote,
- gross sales calls you made,
- bushes you pruned, or
- pauses you added between phrases or concepts.
Doing this establishes a streak of profitable days.
However how do you keep motivated to maintain the streak going?
Jerry Seinfeld’s Streak Upkeep Recommendation
When Seinfeld was a touring comedian, he famously wrote one joke a day.
How did he keep that streak by way of the pains and distractions of being on the highway?
Right here’s what he advised a younger comic, as reported in an article in Lifehacker:
[Seinfeld] advised me to get an enormous wall calendar that has an entire yr on one web page and hold it on a outstanding wall. The following step was to get an enormous pink magic marker.
He mentioned for every day that I do my job of writing [a joke], I get to place an enormous pink X over that day. “After a number of days you’ll have a sequence. Simply maintain at it and the chain will develop longer each day. You’ll like seeing that chain, particularly whenever you get a number of weeks below your belt. Your solely job subsequent is to not break the chain.”
“Don’t break the chain,” he mentioned once more for emphasis.
Public Talking Apply? Create a Streak and Don’t Break It!
This methodology applies to public talking, too.
In case your public talking aim feels massive, decide a smaller, remoted talent that may assist you obtain it, and observe that talent a couple of minutes a day.
The checklist of issues you may work on is countless (a speaker coach can assist you resolve what to deal with). However whether or not you’re engaged on smiling extra, being extra concise, feeling like your Avatar, breaking the run-on sentence behavior, or a bunch of different issues, the strategy that’s most useful would be the identical:
- Perform a little bit of labor,
- Monitor your streak in a calendar or private log, and
- To the most effective of your skill, don’t break the streak!
Observe: Each day streaks are great, but when the streak that you may keep is six days every week, or 4 days every week, and even as soon as a weekend, that’s positive, too. No matter constitutes a streak for you…simply don’t break it!