Lessons From Jerry Seinfeld

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

lessonsI logged onto Facebook the other day to update some things on the Mustard Seed Money page.  Shameless plug: if you haven’t “liked” the page yet, head on over.  I post interesting outside content, as well as my favorite blogposts over this past year.

 

Did you do it?  

 

Thank you if you did!  It wasn’t all that hard, was it?

 

So, back to the story.

 

My Old Friend

lessonsOn my Facebook newsfeed popped up a post from a friend that I grew up with.  I’ve basically known him all my life.  I met him when we were five years old, and we went to school together through college.  

 

We both graduated and got traditional jobs.  However over the years, he became restless with sitting behind the desk and decided to let his entrepreneurial spirit take over.  He’s delved into a couple of different ventures along the way, including music producer, fitness instructor, and now nutrition coach.

 

From the outside, it seems like a pretty winding path.  But it’s been fascinating to observe at a distance.  

 

In many ways, I admire that he’s carving out his own niche.  As many of us know, Facebook and other social media sites allow us to portray the image of ourselves that we want the world to see.  From my own optic, it appears that he is pursuing his dream every single day, and I fully support him.

 

Don’t Stop, Don’t Quit

lessonsMy friend’s favorite hashtag on Facebook, “#DontStopDontQuit”, appears on almost everything he posts.  As a spinning instructor, he constantly encourages his students that their body is stronger than their mind may think.  

 

To go along with that sentiment, one of my coworkers has sign above his door that says, “Don’t worry, you’ll pass out before you die.”  It always makes me chuckle and is a great reminder that I still have more to give every single day that I am alive.

 

This is one of the main reasons that I decided to join a bootcamp at the start of the year.  I knew that I couldn’t reasonably push myself to get the results at home that I wanted.  I use to do P90X, and its founder, Tony Horton, is known for the phrase, “Just push play everyday”, as in pushing play to start the DVD is sometimes the hardest part. 

 

Just Push Play

lessonsWhen I had a really horrible boss, I use to tell myself in the morning when I didn’t want to get out of bed, “Just push play.”  I’d remind myself to get through the day and then be that much closer to a better future job.  

 

That self-talk really helped me stay positive and focused on my end goal, which was/is FIRE.   

 

For the past year, I have been grinding away on this blog.  I’ve only missed a couple of days, when I was super sick in March and could barely keep my eyes open.  But other than that, I have been working hard trying to provide three interesting weekly posts.  

 

Admittedly, there were plenty of times when I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to come up with something interesting that would pass my toughest critic, my editor-in-chief, Mrs. MSM.  But inevitably, something permissible would spring up in my head to share that she approved of.  

 

Editor’s Note:  I like to push Rob to keep upping his game.  As a reader myself, I want to come away thinking that an article was worth the time I spent reading it.  So if it doesn’t hit that litmus test, then I believe there is need for some improvement.

 

Advice from Jerry Seinfeld

Recently, I stumbled upon this article from in an interview on Lifehacker with Brad Isaac, who shared some productivity advice he received from Jerry Seinfeld backstage when he asked if Seinfeld had “any tips for a young comic”.  Below are some excerpts from that interview.

 

He [Jerry 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.

 

lessonsHe told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that 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.”

 

“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.

 

lessonsIt works because it isn’t the one-shot pushes that get us where we want to go, it is the consistent daily action that builds extraordinary outcomes. You may have heard “inch by inch anything’s a cinch.”

 

Daily action builds habits. It gives you practice and will make you an expert in a short time. If you don’t break the chain, you’ll start to spot opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t. Small improvements accumulate into large improvements rapidly because daily action provides “compounding interest.”

 

So how can you start your chain and end procrastination?

Here are five things that I do to start and add to my chain.

 

  • lessonsTake the first step.  

 

“Doesn’t matter if you can dream it or not, all that matters is if you can begin it or not? Take that first step.” ― CA Vikram Verma, author

 

I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve dreaded starting a task.  I would doubt my ability until I finally took the first step and realized it was much more doable than I anticipated.  Oftentimes, I’ve found taking the first step is the hardest part.

 

 

  • lessonsBreak up your work into 15 minute blocks.

 

“You cannot run at full throttle when applying your mindset to all of the different things running through your head. Focusing is the key to manifesting your desires.” ― Stephen Richards, author

 

You know the old adage, “how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”  In the same manner, break down your work into easily digestible pieces so that you don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of work that you have to do.  

 

 

  • lessonsReward yourself.

 

“The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet

 

Create an incentive for yourself once you finish a task.  Taking short breaks improves your productivity and enables you to stay focused.  Plus, all work and no play makes for a dull day.

 

 

  • lessonsThink about what you’d rather be doing.

 

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” ― Michael Jordan, retired MBA player

 

I use to procrastinate and complain about the tasks ahead of me.  Instead, I could have completed the task and moved onto something I’d rather do.  Time is valuable.  Why spend it complaining when you get spend it doing what you love?

 

 

  • lessonsFinish It.

 

“Whatever it takes to finish things, finish. You will learn more from a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished.”Neil Gaiman, author

 

As much as you dread a task, completing it well is the best feeling.  Nothing beats that sense of relief.  It feels like all the tension that I held in my neck and shoulders has finally been released with that weight lifted off my shoulders.  

 

So readers, what did you think of Jerry Seinfeld’s advice?  Did any of the quotes resonate with you?  Do you have any tips or tricks to motivate you?  Share your thoughts below.

Mustard Seed Money

Welcome to the website. A mustard seed is a very small seed but astonishingly grows very large over time. My hope is that through your financial journey that your small investment in time, money and faith will grow beyond anything that you could ever imagine.

62 Comments

  1. I actually do something very similar to the oversize calendar thing but it’s not a year. I keep track everyday – every hour literally. Is it annoying? Yes! And it’s tedious too. But I also worked 67 hours last, last week and 80 hours last week so I can confirm it works. I wanted to write a post about it but my hubby thinks it might also kill me. We’ll see! I really should be sleepin…

    My favourite quote is Gaiman! I am not a firm believer in treating myself even though I know I should. It’s my punisher nature and something I have to work on. I know I know, hubby tells me all the time.
    Lily @ The Frugal Gene recently posted…Frugal’s Budget – Free Google Sheets Budget TemplateMy Profile

    • That’s awesome that you already incorporate the oversized calendar!!!

      Glad you also enjoyed the quotes 🙂 It was a fun post to put together!!!

  2. Love P90X, as well as insanity, but those two workouts are not easy (or a slow start). Still, great results! Just completed my May workout challenge or exercising every day, again not a slow start but actually going full throttle. It works for me 🙂 The reward is feeling better, looking better, sleeping better. But you have to be satisfied with this. LIke the post, some good point, but they don’t always work for everything/everybody 😉
    Team CF recently posted…The Perfect HeistMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Team CF!!! P90X is definitely a no joke workout. I saw some great results that workout. Plus that it really incentivizes the don’t break the chain mentality 🙂

  3. I got excited when I saw your post title. Love me some Jerry.

    Sometimes when I am procrastinating I will tell myself that you only have to do 5 minutes. If you work hard for just 5 minutes I will let you stop. 5 minutes is nothing but it usually gets me to take that first step which gets some flow going and then I’m usually done in no time.
    Grant @ Life Prep Couple recently posted…5 Reasons To Pay Off Student Load Debt FAST!My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Grant!!! I definitely agree that spending 5 minutes to get into the flow of things is definitely all you need to get the ball moving.

  4. Thanks for this post. I’ve missed too many days in between my posts and will start trying to wrote everyday. Even if I don’t post every day, I’ll be getting the habit down.

  5. I’m in total agreement. Even with complex things I do regularly I sometimes get anxiety before I start. The majority of time though after it’s past you realize it wasn’t so bad. Sometimes I even feel it was easy afterward. The key is to just start. I motivate myself by starting things as soon as possible. Once I start I know myself well enough to realize I’ll finish them.
    FullTimeFinance recently posted…Why my wife went back to workMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Full Time Finance!!! I definitely agree that most tasks seem way worse than they actually are. I think if people took that mentality with finances they would be better off 🙂

  6. “Daily action breaks habits.” This is so true. I think chilling daily action with goal setting is the ultimate way to take on whatever you are trying to accomplish. I think it’s awesome you are able to write three posts each week – high quality posts too!! I struggle to get out one post each week – I need to take more daily action to write more often so I can build more quality content to publish!
    The Grounded Engineer recently posted…401(k)s: Importance of an employer match and the Solo 401(k)My Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by The Grounded Engineer!!! Thanks for the kind words. It’s definitely not easy but I have a great wife that helps along the way 🙂

  7. Awesome advice – I look to apply the same principles in my day to day activities. Spend 10-15 minutes on your passions each day and see where this leads you (to success!)

    Thanks for sharing MSM and keep it up! I love your content
    Erik @ The Mastermind Within recently posted…The Everything StoreMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Erik!!! I definitely agree spending 10-15 minutes in anything you’re passionate about will turn into something great over time 🙂

  8. This I such an inspirational post! I know you work really hard since I see you post frequently and leave comments in almost every blog I have seen whether they are brand-new or well-established.

    I also keep a calendar of my posts, but it’s the Schedule Post Calendar plugin on WordPress. I find it assuring to have posts written ahead. It makes me less stressed out about keeping up. Great post!
    Ms. Frugal Asian Finance recently posted…Financial Expectations In Asian FamiliesMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Ms. Frugal Asian Finance!!! I definitely need to get ahead with my posts. I don’t have anything for next week 🙁 It may be a long weekend of writing and brain storming.

  9. I am a huge advocate of rewarding yourself for a job well done. It’s a trick that I use to motivate myself to continue to work hard because I know that my hard work will be rewarded. Life would suck if you only get the stick every day and never get the carrot.

    Not breaking the chain was something that I was trying very hard to do. I almost broke the chain last week when I was a bit occupied and had little time to complete my post. I worked till 1am last week to complete my weekly post because I did not want to break the chain. I could of posted a day later, but I told myself that I needed to be consistent.
    Leo T. Ly @ isaved5k.com recently posted…26 Must Have Blogging SkillsMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Leo!!! I definitely remember when I broke the chain one day and what an awful feeling it was blogging. Definitely been trying to be as consistent as possible which is definitely not easy.

  10. I’m a big fan of the “don’t break the chain” advice. I use a habit tracking app called Momentum that basically allows me to do a Seinfeld calendar for each of my habits. When I do each habit each day I get to check the box and make it green. Once you have a few, it is much easier to stay motivated to check the box. Normally, I’d think “well skipping one day won’t hurt.” Now I think, “skipping one day means I have to see that ugly empty box until it falls of my screen.”

    I also really like that Neil Gaiman quote. I’ll have to remember that. Finishing is something that I have been working on over the past few years, as my instinct used to be to give up and move on when something starts going downhill.
    Matt @ Optimize Your Life recently posted…An Obligation to Work?My Profile

    • I’ll have to check out the app. I definitely have a couple of things that I’d like to keep momentum on with a daily reminder 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!!

  11. This is great! I haven’t watched too much of Seinfeld’s stuff, but I do something similar for productivity. I have a paper planner that I use to track all of my to-dos. As I complete a task, I get to check it off. At the end of the day I can look back at all of my wonderful completed accomplishments. Ahhhh.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…The Broke Betch’s Guide To An Affordable WeddingMy Profile

  12. Mustard Seed –

    Solid article and you can tell Mrs. MSM that it passed the test! I agree on all fronts, need to attach everyday, as that builds strength in repetition and then compounds like an investment overtime. I use the same methods towards our Diplomats, Investing, ensuring the House is clean and even relationships. It’s quite amazing. I couldn’t agree more on the break it up in 15 increments and to ensure you finish, without complaining! Time spent complaining could be funny with friends, but could be wasted… thanks for sharing this.

    -Lanny
    Dividend Diplomats recently posted…Apple Inc. (AAPL) Dividend Stock AnalysisMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Lanny along with the compliment 🙂 15 minute increments is the perfect amount for me to stay motivated and honestly I lose track of time most of the time 🙂 So I normally go way longer than that!!! It’s a great trick.

  13. I like the idea of rewarding yourself. If there are tasks that I need to get done along with passion projects that I’d like to work on at the same time. I’ll use the passion project as a reward after I complete the tasks. It helps keep me motivated to get the mundane task done so I can get to the good stuff. 🙂
    Brian recently posted…Eliminating Debt to Make Your Investments Really Pay OffMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Brian!!! That’s an awesome reward. I definitely don’t always have that discipline and find myself gravitating towards the passion projects much more. But it’s definitely something I’m working on.

  14. Thanks a lot for sharing, I really like the idea of having a big wall calendar. I have couple of goals that I am struggling with and having this calendar, seeing it, will help (I hope so) to beat my frustration and keep pushing, keep going.
    Friendly Russian recently posted…First paycheck in the StatesMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by Friendly Russian!!! I use to have a giant white board where I wrote all my goals and things that I wanted to accomplish. I definitely need to put that back up.

  15. In my house the phrase is “the hardest part is getting off the sofa”. It’s usually applied to going to the gym, but really starting anything is the most difficult step. Once you get over that little hurdle, you can accomplish almost anything. Those five steps are solid advice…great post!
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…Are You a “Real Contender” in Life?My Profile

  16. Breaking the tasks up into bite size ones makes it more manageable for sure. And after a little bit you’ll really start to see the end goal or finished product that you’ll be more happy with because it wasn’t rushed. I love Seinfeld by the way and he is STILL at it working in Atlantic City I hear from time to time.
    SMM recently posted…Do It for the Future You – RetirementMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing SMM!!! I’d definitely like to see Seinfeld live one of these days. He has such unique insight with everyday observations. I’d love to experience it live.

  17. Thinking of thnings you can do after a boring task helps. And for me, having a list as well. I then see what other things I could be doing/have to do. That leaves then less mental space for spending time on Facebook and blogs and a news website,…

    The one thing I managed to do and makes me happy: commute by bike to the train station, every day, no matter what the weather is. It is hard when it rains. A car commute is just too much hassle and stress.
    Amber tree recently posted…A diversified portfolioMy Profile

    • That’s awesome that you’re able to commute everyday to the train station by bike. I can only imagine what a great feeling that is!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  18. Starting really is the hardest part! I think that forming a habit is the key to consistency though. I used to hate going to the gym, but my wife and I decided to go each evening at around 7pm. At first, it was torture, but we kept each other accountable. After a couple weeks, it felt weird if we didn’t go, and we’d sometimes leave to workout at 8 or 8:30pm just to say we did it. Habits mean that over time, the “chain” gets stronger and stronger, making it harder to break. Just knowing this helps me whenever I’m lacking motivation to start something.

    • Thanks for sharing Matt!!! It’s definitely much easier when you have a workout partner to hold you accountable. I know that it really helps me with my motivation 🙂

  19. I love the “don’t break the chain” metaphor. As soon as I let my blog or my work lack, I can see the impact almost immediately.
    When it comes to blogging, whether you’re writing a new post, talking to people on social media, or just fiddling behind the scenes – doing something keeps that chain going and keeps the motivation up!
    Yaz | The Wallet Moth recently posted…Meal Prep: The Perfect Way to Make Cheap Healthy MealsMy Profile

  20. My mom’s advice was more of a scold and it’s always stuck with me: If you’re going to start complaining about doing something, just start doing it instead. You’re going to waste more time talking about it then getting the job done!

    It always bugged her that my dad would mull over things for ages when he could have just been doing the work, and I notice that I’ve inherited that impatience 🙂
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life recently posted…Just a little (link) love: hedgehog boat editionMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing!!! It’s funny the habits that we pick up from our parents both good and bad. I tend to be a lot more like my Mom than Dad. He likes to putter around the house while my Mom and I like to have purpose in our movements 🙂

  21. Some years ago I did 60 days of P90x. It was _so_ hard. I didn’t know that so many kinds of pushups from hell even existed. Ugh.

    I’ve found that if I want to succeed at something new, I _have_ to somehow make it into a habit. Do it at about the same time every day and find a good trigger to remind me to do it.
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…What Are Your Superpowers?My Profile

    • P90X is such a hard routine. I think the first two times that I did it afterwards I went directly to the shower and dry heaved. I hurt so bad and I pushed my body as hard as it could. After 90 days I looked good in the mirror (at least to myself) but my body felt broken. It was hard for me so I had to find something a little easier to cope with 🙂

  22. I love that Jordan quote – want it, wish it, or make it happen. Not many other options! Seinfelds chain method, which is used in psychology quite often, is all about building a muscle for something whether it be physical or mental. This year I decided to put the chain method to use by starting one new habit each month and using an app to check it off each day. I have been so much more successful being able to see the chain grow and not want to break it. On the other hand, when I did break the chain it made me bummed to have to start all over! This became a better realization that I shouldn’t break the chain in the first place. I hate seeing the break!
    Miss Mazuma recently posted…Unfuck Yourself… A Non $$ Lesson From Camp MustacheMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Miss Mazuma!!! Both you and Matt mentioned the Momentum app. I am definitely going to check this out. Seems like it’s super popular and actually works. Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Thanks for stopping by Rich!!! It took me a long time to figure out what IT was as well. The good news is you have the ability to explore a bunch of things in the meantime 🙂

  23. I read this post a couple days ago, and I came back to let you know one of the quotes you mentioned really stuck with me:
    “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”
    Thanks for the motivation ideas!

  24. Great post! I was doing fairly well at meeting my one blog per week goal until spring arrived! But – that’s the advantage of being FI after all. I get to take the summer to do the things love (ranching) and in the winter I can return to blogging (which I also love) to help other people get to this place too! I’m very new at blogging, so I hope to pick up the pace once I get my sea legs! Koodoos to you to find the time to write THREE per week! I only take time to follow a few blogs and yours is one I like very much – so keep them coming. I recently wrote about a book I recommend – feel free to check out the review if you are interested. Have a wonderful day!

    http://financialfitnesstofreedom.com/unshakeable/

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