If you have a dream, it’s time to take some action. We call this playing. It’s part of our 3-step formula for turning dreams into reality: 1) Dream it! 2) Map it! 3) Play it! This is a fun game to develop good habits made famous by the comedian Jerry Seinfeld, one of the most successful comedians of all time. Below, you can download the worksheets and try it yourself.
Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret was a story that I read way back in 2007. Backstage a young comedian asked Seinfeld for advice, and Seinfeld said, “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 a few days, you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it, and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to NOT break the chain.'” The story has since gone viral, and now people use the “Seinfeld Strategy” for any goal or habit.
It’s super simple: just take one step every day and don’t stop. It can be the easiest step you can imagine. For example, if you want to run a marathon, you might start day one by just putting your shoes on. Maybe the next day, you leave the house in your shoes. And the day after that, you run ten yards. Maybe some days you run ten miles, and maybe some days you take your shoes off and go back to bed.
As you can see in the graphic above, we’ve included a one-month challenge that is good for all ages, both with lots of words and one with room to make notes. We also included a one-year challenge that is good for older kids and adults.
Willpower versus love
Many people think the secret of Seinfeld’s Strategy of “Don’t break the chain” is practicing consistency and avoiding procrastination. Others think the secret is the compounding effort. If you ask me, the secret is discovering how easy it is to make your dreams come true when you break down a big dream into tiny, easy steps. Now listen to what Seinfeld thinks is the secret.
In an interview, Howard Stern says to Jerry Seinfeld, “I thought, you know, it is possible to will yourself, maybe not to be the greatest in the world but to certainly get what you want.”
And Jerry Seinfeld responds, “I’m going to adjust your perspective a little bit here. That was not will. What you were using, what Michael Jordan uses and what I use, is not will — it’s love. When you love something, it’s a bottomless pool of energy. That’s where the energy comes from. But you have to love it sincerely. Not because you’re going to make money from it, or be famous, or get whatever you want to get. When you do it because you love it, then you can find yourself moving up and getting really good at something you wanted to be good at. Will is like not eating dessert or something that’s just forcing yourself. You can’t force yourself to do, to be what you have made yourself into. You can love it. Love is endless. Will is finite.”
It’s simple. Write down your dream and take one step of action every day. Put a checkmark on each day you successfully take a step of action so you can see your progress.
The goal is NOT to break the chain of daily activities (steps of action), but even if you do, you will still learn a lot about yourself. In the example of the “Don’t break the chain” one-year challenge pictured above. You can imagine this person starting by doing something every day and getting tired. Then they tried weekdays only and got bored. Then after a short break, they tried random days to see if that was exciting. Then they got burnt out and restarted. Finally, they ended with another big, everyday effort. They may have broken the chain a few times, but they learned a lot about themselves. What was the best strategy: every day, weekdays, random days? Well, that’s for you to find out.
We recommend printing out a few sheets and trying different dreams and different strategies. You might also discover that your dream itself is either too small or too big. Sometimes, cleverly rephrasing a dream makes all the difference. Instead of declaring that you want to perform at the New York Metropolitan Opera House, maybe you can start by learning how to sing a song. Then you can sing a song every day until you can perform it from memory.
Well, this game isn’t too hard, so we don’t need to say much more except. “Have fun!”
In this video, Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t talk about breaking the chain, but he does talk about how to write a joke. Not only is it funny, but you can learn how he breaks a big step into a lot of little ones: the littler the step, the less intimidating.
Download this free PDF below.
Download: Don’t break the chain
This free PDF is premium content. Please subscribe to our quarterly newsletter to download.This is a printer-friendly, high-res PDF. You’ll get both a color (if available) and black and white version. Each PDF comes with simple instructions. We recommend tracking your progress by putting all your activities into 3-ring binder. Thanks! And have fun!