Most people think intensity is the key to accomplishing huge goals, but Jerry Seinfeld would disagree. When this stand-up comic, co-creator of Seinfeld, and actor worth $950 million considers the reason for his success, he credits one word: consistency.
Early on in his career, Jerry started writing at least one joke per day. He hung a giant calendar on the wall, and every time he finished his daily joke, he drew a big red X over the day. Over time, the string of Xs formed a long chain. Jerry says the draw of money and fame didn’t motivate him. The real motivator was to not break the chain.
This daily joke routine is a perfect example of a habit goal. Habit goals keep you focused on small tasks that can be completed each day. Consistent victories keep the momentum going. A more popular goal is an achievement goal. These are big hairy goals that end up paralyzing you instead of pushing you. They require intensity. As a seasoned achievement goal setter, trust me when I say it’s not worth it. It’s the little steps that make a big impact.
If you want to make progress, you’ll need to trade intensity for consistency. Follow these 4 steps to get moving on your goals today.
Step 1: Get clear on your goal.
You can’t accomplish a goal until you’ve defined it. Vision always comes first. Whether you’re working toward a habit goal or an achievement goal, get clarity about the end result you want.
Get specific about your goal. And write it down. Thoughts disentangle themselves as they pass over the lips and through pencil tips. Until you can write down a clear goal, you don’t really know what you want.
Writing down the goal is especially important when a team is involved. You may feel clarity in your brain, but you can’t create alignment until it’s on paper. This first step is critical to success.
Step 2: Identify the right behavior.
Next, determine what behavior will enable you to achieve your goal. Don’t make this behavior too difficult. When practiced over and over again, it should get you incrementally closer to major change.
I recently crashed through a big physical barrier by sticking to a small behavioral change. I had 25 stubborn pounds that just wouldn’t fall off. Instead of muscling my way through the weight or booking an intimidating Ironman triathlon, I cut out sugar and processed carbs.
That’s it. Every day, I focused on this simple step. It was super easy. It didn’t feel like an insurmountable goal. It was a simple behavioral change. I stayed consistent. Those pesky pounds dropped off in about three months. Just like a fad diet, intense goal setting doesn’t work. It’s about lifestyle change. Consistently follow the right behavior.
Step 3: Track your progress.
Tracking progress accomplishes two objectives:
- It reinforces the habit through self-accountability.
- It boosts motivation by showing you visual progress.
Like Jerry Seinfeld’s compulsion to keep the chain going, recording your progress will keep you motivated. Seeing the string of success will generate more momentum for the days to come.
If you aren’t sure how to get started with tracking, my team can help. We put together a free Perfect Progress Checklist that you can download here.
Step 4: Enlist an accountability partner.
Building a relationship with an accountability partner might be the most impactful step you can take. I’m not the first person to say that. Remember verses 9 and 10 in Ecclesiastes 4?
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to the one who falls when he is alone.” That’s the value of accountability.
Once you decide to enlist an accountability partner, it’s critically important to choose the right person. Years ago, when focusing on my golf game, I chose a partner that ragged on my mistakes. You can probably guess what happened. The more he ridiculed me, the worse I got.
Your accountability partner must be encouraging. It might be a friend or coworker. It could also be a professional counselor, coach, or trainer.
Progress is within reach for you, but you might need to restructure the way you think about goals. When you lean into habit goals instead of achievement goals, you’ll get moving in no time.