Stinky feet and Seinfeld wisdom: self-measurement as... MOTIVATION

It’s gorgeous sunny Friday outside, so I’ll be brief this time:
two stories on self-measurements as motivation driver.

The stinky feet story:
My six-year-old doesn’t always want to get into a bath. By the end of the day she’s often too tired from cartwheeling and doorway climbing, and just wants to hop into bed and listen to her bed time story. We the parents, on the other hand, have this weird thing against stinky feet entering a bed.

One day my daughter brought home a little kit: a tooth brush, a tooth paste, a pack of dental floss, and a little plastic hourglass, designed to measure 2 minutes. Seems like our local dentist embarked on direct marketing campaign to kindergartners.

That hourglass turned out to be a wonderful invention. Next time my adorable Ms. Stinky-Feet started whining she’s too tired for a bath, I asked: “do you think we can do it under 2 minutes? We’ll use your hourglass.” Intrigued, she agreed to try. The bath was over in under 2 minutes. Amazing how fast a tired child can wash herself when you press her “rise to the challenge” button.

These days every time we hear “I’m too tired! Can we skip bath today?”, we answer “Two minutes and you’re done!”.  A quick bath ensues and we have a fragrant little girl in PJs in less than 5 minutes. Well, most of the days.

The Seinfeld story:
Case in point – this post is one of the first written after a very long silence. There were many reasons for the silence. One of them, I hate to admit it, being procrastination. Those of you who know me well, remember that I have a lot of resistance about writing. So I put it off as long as I could, doing housework, packing for our imminent move, going through admin stuff in the business. Anything to avoid writing.

Accepting I can’t overcome the writer’s block on my own, I asked a good friend for advice. She writes for a living, and does it so brilliantly she recently got a book deal. Here is a piece of advice that got me going:  my writer friend has a daily writing goal: 500 words. For her, it’s ridiculously low.
“Five hundred words” is not as frightening as “I’m working on a chapter”.  Five hundred words have a healthy chance to get written, and once she’s written them, she’ll probably write more, because she already got herself in the zone.

I decided that 200 words would be fine for me, since I’m at the very beginning of my writing path.

And I sat down, took out a calendar per Jerry Seinfeld’s method, and put together a draft for this very post. Over 500 words in less than 30 minutes.


It took me 30 minutes to do something I’ve putting off for weeks?!
Yes. It did.

Now, I’m going to write some more, and tomorrow another X is going to be added to my Seinfeld chain.


Moral of the story: there’s a lot of online advice on measuring various things in your business, your fitness routines, you diet, etc. Most of it emphasizes benefits such as control and awareness. And it’s true – measuring anything on a regular basis does increase both. However, I want to add a benefit that comes to light less frequently: MOTIVATION.

Notice how the resistance goes down, when you KNOW “it only takes 2 minutes to do a bath”. Or 30 minutes to write 300 words. Yes, I increased my daily goal after a week. Writing comes much easier now. Unbelievable.
Instead of procrastinating, putting stuff off, finding reasons why not do it now, you just… do, and get on with your life.

Boom. Done.

Doesn’t it feel great?