One of the big lessons I learned in 2018 was that in order to do great things, we need to do fewer things. In other words, simplicity and singularity of purpose is where the magic lies.
(Side note: you can find the other big lessons I learned in my 2018 annual review.)
That doesn’t mean we can’t have multiple wins over the span of a year or beyond, but it does mean that we need to go all in on one thing at a time, giving it our full focus until it’s either complete or at a point where we can free up more time to focus elsewhere.
The thing is, whether consciously or subconsciously, there is a necessary trade-off that takes place in which we are simply not able to give our full attention to all areas of our lives at once.
Which is a bitter pill to swallow for all my fellow perfectionists out there…
That’s all good when it comes to consciously deciding where to focus our creative energy, but what about those necessary personal habits that end up taking a back seat subconsciously?
In my case: personal hygiene.
Yes, it’s pretty gross to admit, but my unfortunate default is that when I spend more time on my work, it’s my showering habits that take a knock – slipping to once every other day (or sometimes worse…).
The glamorous entrepreneur lifestyle, right? Hah.
But no longer!
Realizing that the way we do one thing is the way we do everything, I decided to look at this as another opportunity to flex my consistency muscle, which would only serve me in other areas.
I decided to implement two powerful tools for sticking to any habit:
- A mantra.
Getting accountability (from my wife) means there’s someone there to steer me back on track when it’s late and I feel too lazy to drag my ass into the shower.
But the mantra is the thing that’s been most helpful in all of this. It’s one you can use for any habit, good or bad, and it goes like this:
“Don’t break the streak.”
See, the comedian Jerry Seinfeld had this awesome technique which is now known as the Seinfeld Strategy. Basically, you pick a task that is meaningful to you (but still simple enough to do consistently) and mark your progress on a calendar. Each day you complete the task, you mark it with an X, with the ultimate aim being to not break the chain.
In my case, I’ve chosen not to physically use a calendar, as I simply need to focus on getting into the shower each day.
Knowing that all I need to do is execute my chosen habit just for today, it becomes a fun game where any time I don’t feel “motivated”, I simply remind myself: “Don’t break the streak” and get on with it.
In other words, it’s no longer about how I feel about the task at hand or what the final result will look like, it’s just a case of not breaking the streak on that one day.
For some added oomph, you could also introduce a positive incentive for keeping the streak going, or a negative incentive for breaking it.
No matter what field, endeavor, or habit we choose, consistency is the thing that separates the A-players from the Average Joes. The next time you’re not feeling motivated to do something you’ve already decided is important to you, try using this little mantra to get back into action.
It doesn’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t need to be pretty. But whatever you do…
Don’t break the streak.
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