Motivational Advice from Jerry Seinfeld

With a new year here, and all those resolution thingies floating around and a book that’s more than halfway done that I reeeeeeeaaaalllly want to get finished up and into your hands, I decided to pull out some big guns in the motivation department.

Today I hung up my brand new 2010 Hubble Telescope calendar. Twelve months, each with a picture of the Hubble Telescope to look at…there are three of just the lens.

Okay, so that’s a joke. The calendar is, obviously, composed of twelve pictures taken by the Hubble Telescope of blobs in space but I’ve been sitting on that joke for weeks now just praying that what sort of wall calendars people are buying for the new year would come up in conversation so I could trot it out. It never happened, I forced it in there, it’s over, let’s move on.

I hung up my wall calender this morning and, after I had met my word count, I put a big, fat, red X through today:

Tomorrow, after I’ve met my word count for the day, I will put a big fat red X through the 5th. Then on Wednesday I’ll hit my word count and earn my X for that day, then Thursday, and, at that point, I will have a chain of glorious red X’s that, for weird reasons, is incredibly difficult to break.

This idea is credited to Jerry Seinfeld and is described here.

I have used this on a number of occasions in my life and I have found that pretty string of red X’s to be one of the most effective methods of motivation on the planet. It is also one of the most stupid. The notion that my brain can get tricked so easily by the desire to continue producing a simple pattern on my Hubble telescope calendar never fails to make me chuckle.

But it works. The inner need to keep the chain going keeps the words flowing and that gets books finished. And putting my goals right up in my face where I can’t avoid seeing them doesn’t hurt either. And making it public really drives the nails in.

So there we go.

I want this book done, you want to read it, everybody wins.

We’ll revisit this once I get a pretty chain going.