Jun 15 • 9M

The 30-for-30 Challenge

A tactical approach to improve at literally anything

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Today at a Glance:

  • Our minds tend to overcomplicate the process required to achieve forward progress. We incorrectly assume that it requires herculean effort or intensity.

    The reality? Giant leaps forward are simply the macro output of tens, hundreds, or thousands of tiny daily steps.

  • The Seinfeld Calendar Framework: (1) Hang a big calendar on the wall; (2) Use a big red marker to put an X over every day that you complete your daily habit; and (3) Don’t break the chain of Xs!

  • The 30-for-30 Challenge: Choose the arena, commit to 30 days of 30 minutes per day, create pressure loops by stating your intentions publicly, and use a calendar or tool to track your daily execution.

  • If you’re interested in being a part of a 30-for-30 Challenge community, fill out the form here to get exclusive first access when it’s launched.


The 30-for-30 Challenge

I spend a lot of time thinking about progress.

I find happiness and fulfillment in progression—in the feeling of being one step further down the path from where I was yesterday.

I’m not quite sure where that path is headed, but I am sure that the only way I want to progress along it is forward.

Visualization Credit: Jack Butcher

Over time, I’ve observed that our minds tend to overcomplicate the process required to achieve this forward progression. We incorrectly assume that it requires herculean effort or intensity.

The reality? Giant leaps forward are simply the macro output of tens, hundreds, or thousands of tiny daily steps.

My goal with my writing is always the same: take the complex and make it simple. So today, I’d like to share my simple, tactical approach for making forward progress.


Seinfeld’s Secret

Jerry Seinfeld is an absolute legend—an inspiring figure to study for creatives and non-creatives alike.

He is considered one of the top comedians of all time and has amassed a reported financial fortune of nearly $1 billion. He earned a total of $100,000 for the entire first season of Seinfeld. By season 9, he was earning over $1 million per episode.

Jerry Seinfeld is impressive in many ways, but perhaps most impressive is the fact that he has exhibited such tremendous creative consistency over the years. As he is quick to point out in a number of interviews, this was not some gift he was simply born with.

It was—at least partially—engineered.

An up-and-coming comedian named Brad Isaac had a famous interaction with Jerry Seinfeld that revealed his strategy for hacking consistency and growth:

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.

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 is to not break the chain.”

I call this the Seinfeld Calendar Framework:

  • Hang a big calendar on the wall.

  • Use a big red marker to put an X over every day that you complete your daily [insert habit]. The habit should be simple and manageable to complete.

  • Don’t break the chain of Xs!

Visualization Credit: @drex_jpg

Importantly, it was not about the writing or jokes being high quality—it was about the consistency of the daily practice.

The beauty in this system was in its sheer simplicity. It emphasized a manageable daily practice that would compound effectively.

Seinfeld knew: With daily practice comes long-term prowess.


30-for-30 Challenge

After reading about Seinfeld’s calendar hack, I adapted it to create my own improvement approach.

I call it the 30-for-30 Challenge: 30 days, 30 minutes per day.

The mechanics are simple:

  • Choose your arena for progress. This can be any new skill, habit, or an existing area of competency you are looking to improve.

  • Commit to focused effort in that arena for 30 minutes per day for 30 consecutive days.

  • Create a positive pressure loop. State your intention publicly or tell a friend or family member about your plan. This subtle decision makes it more costly to quit.

  • Track the daily execution with a calendar.

The 30-for-30 Challenge has three core advantages:

Meaningful Commitment

Choosing a single arena for progress requires clear commitment that reveals whether you are physically and psychologically invested in the thing you want to improve at.

30 days of effort is meaningful.

If you’re half-in, you won’t want to take it on and commit to the full scope 30 days.

It’s a commitment razor.

Light Intimidation

While 30 days is long enough to require a real commitment, 30 minutes is short enough that it removes intimidation and allows you to mentally attack it.

Pre-start self-intimidation is one of the biggest drivers of stagnation. We make something too daunting, so we don’t take it on. New habits and improvement initiatives can often feel that way.

Remember: When you’re staring at a cold lake, jumping in is the hardest part—once you’re in it, it’s not so bad!

A lot of people say they want to get into great cardio shape, but if they’re currently out of shape, it can feel like a daunting task. 30-for-30 breaks the intimidation down into something simple, reasonable, and manageable.

Just punch the clock for 30 minutes today. That’s it.

Effective Compounding

30 days of 30 minutes per day is 900 total minutes of accumulated effort.

900 minutes of focused effort can have surprisingly significant results. There’s almost nothing in the world that you won’t improve at if you spend 900 minutes of focused, dedicated effort on it.

A few examples:

  • 900 minutes of Zone 2 cardio puts you in much better cardiovascular shape.

  • 900 minutes of writing makes you a dramatically better writer.

  • 900 minutes of reading can cover several classic books and many articles.

  • 900 minutes of meditation can build toward a clear mind.

  • 900 minutes of work on that secret project will make a dent.

Remember: Giant leaps forward are simply the macro output of tens, hundreds, or thousands of tiny daily steps.

Small things become big things.


Conclusion

To summarize the 30-for-30 Challenge:

  • Choose the Arena: What habit do you want to create? What skill do you want to build or improve upon?

  • Commit: 30 days, 30 minutes per day.

  • Create Pressure Loops: State your intentions publicly or tell a friend.

  • Track: Use a calendar or tool to track your daily execution. One of my awesome Twitter followers created this nifty Notion tool that you can use as a tracker.

30-for-30 works because it creates a marathon of short, manageable sprints. It forces you to work like a lion, consistently.

Intensity + Consistency = Progress.

30-for-30 Community

I’m insanely bullish on the power of community to help us achieve our goals. That’s why I’m planning to build out an exclusive community of growth-oriented individuals who want to support each other on the journey.

If you want to be a part of the 30-for-30 Challenge Community, add your email below and get notified for first access when it launches.

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