Learn From Jerry Seinfeld’s Red X Method

Accountability Productivity Purpose


Key Point: Get better at setting goals and achieving them. I continue to be amazed how many organizations and individuals struggle with accomplishing goals. This is connected to the challenge most of us face with procrastination issues. So what does the research say? And how might the Jerry Seinfeld method help us?

Some Experts and Research:

Tim Pychyl, a Carleton University psych prof and Founder of Procrastination Research Group in Ottawa, encourages us to make specific implementation intentions. Stop being vague.

An example of a vague goal is, “I want to eat less.”

An implementation intention however, is “I am putting a smaller plate on the table and eating only what’s on it.”

Teresa Amabile, a Harvard Business School administration professor, and co-author of The Progress Principle finds that we do better when making progress on meaningful goals. “The Progress Principle” involves setting up small wins to achieve and celebrate along the way.  

Jerry Seinfeld’s Red X method was captured in the Lifehacker blog. When asked what made him a great comic, Seinfeld pointed out that comics need to write jokes every day. To help him, he put up a wall size calendar and slashed a red X through everyday he wrote. The goal was to never break the chain of red X ‘s. Seinfeld claims to have used the same method for achieving other goals too. 

Character move:

  1. Be absolutely honest and clear that the goal is meaningful to you. Decide that you must achieve it.
  2. Break it down to small and important steps. Celebrate progress along the way.
  3. Be very specific and intentional in combining a series of small wins leading to your aspirational goal. No vagueness!
  4. Use Seinfeld’s Red X method to keep the chain of continuous small wins in view. Keep the chain unbroken for as long as possible. It will become a habit.
  5. Remind yourself how good it feels to connect an unbroken chain of small wins. This sense of progress creates a positive environment.

Red X method in The Triangle,

– Lorne