I love the Woody Allen quote “80% of success is just showing up.”. This idea perfectly applies the world of entrepreneurs. My thoughts are that by “just showing up” enough, you’ll eventually become successful at nearly any goal you set your mind to. It’s just a matter of time.
This is a lot easier said than done, however. We’re all human and keeping up momentum over the long haul can be incredibly hard. This is a problem I, and many other aspiring entrepreneurs have struggled with.
The good news is that I’ve found something that really can help with motivation and momentum – a technique called ‘Don’t Break the Chain’.
The power of the chain
“Don’t Break the Chain” is a term was coined by comedian Jerry Seinfeld and was a technique he used in his early days of being a comedian. Before becoming a success, he would struggle with having to write thousands of jokes just to have enough good ones to come up with a decent hour-long comedy set.
This was incredibly taxing, so to keep up his motivation he used a straightforward technique that tracked when he had worked. On his calendar, he simply marked an “X” on the days that he wrote jokes.
After a period of time, he glanced up at his calendar and noticed that he had a long unbroken chain of X’s running across many days. This caused an interesting thing to happen – his desire to not “Break the Chain” of X’s started to outweigh his desire to skip work on lazy days.
This concept is huge because it shifts one’s mentality of avoiding frustrating or boring experiences to one of embracing them.
Working daily becomes a habit and no longer requires a conscious decision
After a period of “not breaking the chain”, another mental shift occurs. The conscious struggle many of us have dealt with when deciding if we should or shouldn’t work today suddenly becomes a non-issue.
You just start doing it day in and day out. Work becomes an automatic mental habit. You no longer have to ponder if you feel like working today, you just do it.
It’s not about productivity but about consistently putting in the effort
It isn’t even that important that you feel like you have a productive day, or a good day, or have achieved anything monumental. Just being able to consistently sit down and make even a minuscule amount of progress day in and day out is hugely important.
I’ve been successfully using the technique with the work on my websites. So far I’m up to 80 days in a row where I’ve worked at least 15 minutes a day. Believe it or not, setting a threshold this low can be quite challenging at times due to varying full-time job and family responsibilities. Also, even though my minimum is 15 minutes, I usually work a lot more and I actually average about 15 hours a week.
If you want to get started and see if the “Don’t Break the Chain” technique works for you, I recommend chains.cc. It’s a really slick free website with an optional paid iOS app. There are also a lot of other sites and apps out there so just do a quick search if chains.cc isn’t your cup of tea. Good luck and remember – Don’t Break the Chain!