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Don’t break the chain!

By September 6, 2017January 27th, 2023One Comment
break the chain

Paper chains.
Colorful…or monochromatic.


Recently, I shared a deep life-long struggle with my coach. In the process of our conversation—coaching—he related a story told by Jerry Seinfeld to a young aspiring comedian. In the story, Jerry shared that his key to becoming a successful comedian was, “Don’t break the chain.”

Here’s the story in the young aspiring comedian’s words:

Years ago … Jerry Seinfeld was … a touring comic. At the time, I was hanging around clubs doing open mic nights and trying to learn the ropes. One night I was in the club where Seinfeld was working, and before he went on stage, I saw my chance. I had to ask Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comic. What he told me was something that would benefit me a lifetime…

He 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. But his advice was better than that…He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.

He 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 next is to not break the chain.”

As crazy as this sounds, it’s actually a simple life hack.

A physical reminder to keep taking the next step.

For the past three weeks, I’ve not broken the chain. In my case, I chose to use a real paper chain—it’s visual, it forces me to add the link every day, it’s colorful, it’s playful. A friend of mine is using the same concept with paperclips.

The results aren’t instantly dramatic; but my mindset change is. Because I don’t want to break that chain and start over.

What are you struggling with today that needs a physical reminder to keep you focused on the goal? It’s a simple trick, but a powerful one. Don’t break the chain! Just keep doing what you know you need to do, one step at a time. And when you do, add a link to your chain.

Here’s my chain as it is today:

If you take up this challenge, please post a picture of your chain in the comments below. It will encourage all of us.

If you need help, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.

  • Kirsten D Samuel

    I empower Christian wives to discover they are seen, loved, and heard. These women find the freedom to be who they are beyond their partner’s struggles, and find hope that there is a life worth living.

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