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Habits over motivation or inspiration

This image says it all.

You’re not always motivated, though admittedly it helps. If you’re not consistently motivated, this might help in that department.

You’re not always inspired, though admittedly it also helps. And there are a ton of ways to become inspired about the work you do. Read my latest, Someday Is Today, for ideas.

Available in bookstores everywhere. Also in audiobook form.

But daily habits? The establishing of routines that will carry the day?

Yes, those can happen every day. And habits, once formed, are independent of motivation and inspiration.

Jerry Seinfeld once said that the way to become a better comic was to create better jokes, and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.

To accomplish this goal, Seinfeld suggested purchasing a large wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hanging it on a prominent wall. Then purchase a red magic marker. For every day that you write, put a big red X over that day.

“After a few days, you’ll have a chain,” he said. “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.”

Seinfeld does not talk about finding motivation or inspiration to write. Instead, he suggests a system that will guarantee that you write, even on days when you don’t feel like writing or when the writing is not good.

I’ve written every single day of my life, without exception, since November 30, 1988. That writing has come in many forms, but every day, without ever missing a day, I have written sentences attached to other sentences. I wrote when I was homeless. I wrote on my wedding day. I wrote on the day I was arrested and jailed for a crime I did not commit. I wrote on every day of my honeymoon. I wrote when I was battling pneumonia. I wrote between contractions on the day when Clara was born.

Once you’ve started a chain, why break it?

I’ve also written and published a blog post every single day without exception since June 23, 2003. That’s 6,986 posts and counting. Not every post is good. Not every post is entertaining or informative or even well written. They are admittedly better today than back in 2003, but not everything I write is scintillating and memorable.

Perhaps you’ve noticed.

But I haven’t missed a day in more than 19 years.

I also wrote to my children every single day from May 14, 2008 (the day we discovered that Elysha was pregnant) through December 20 of 2015. Those posts, 2,793 in all, now exist online at and in six volumes of printed text in our home.

Some of those posts contain sage wisdom for my children. Others capture moments that I’m so happy we will never forget. Some of a lot less inspiring. But I didn’t miss a day for nearly seven years before deciding to move on to other projects.

I’ve also established habits related to many other things in my life. You have, too. Presumably, you brush your teeth twice a day regardless of your inspiration and motivation. You probably have established routines related to personal organization and household chores. If you have pets or plants, you have daily habits that keep those living things alive.

Motivation and inspiration can be hard at times. Habits are not hard. Once formed, they simply become part of your everyday routine.

I may admittedly be more motivated and inspired than most people, but there are days – believe it or not – when I am less than inspired and less than motivated. Perhaps these days happen a lot less frequently than most, but they do occasionally happen.

On those days, I’m grateful for the habits that I’ve created. The chains I will not break. The ease at which I sit down and write my sentences because it’s what I’ve done for so many days before.

If you want to accomplish a goal or make a dream come true, find a way to establish habits along the steps of that path.

Forget results.

Focus on the process.

Worry about doing the work instead of the quality of the work.