The 21/90 Rule Combined With Seinfeld Strategy For Habit Development

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Introduction

Today is day 1 of India’s total lockdown. Seeing the spread of COVID-19, this is the firmest step our PM could have taken and addressed the nation two times in less than a week; you know the scale now. We are concerned about Stage 3 (more about stages of COVID-19 here) and will do anything to flatten the curve.

“Even if we follow a sedentary lifestyle, we can control the spread of this virus.”

Good for us, we don’t have to do anything. We just have to stay at home and be with our loved ones. Those who decided to go home at a specific date and couldn’t do it because of public transport shut down, even easier for you: stay wherever you are. Also, if we follow a sedentary lifestyle, we can change the spread of the coronavirus.

What To Do During Lockdown?

Let’s not brainstorm what will happen after day 21 because neither did we know that our country would be on complete lockdown for 21 days straight. But if we all follow social distancing for the sake of humanity, then we can change the course of this pandemic and once again prove our mettle to the whole world. We Indians are known for excelling in pressure situations. We are resilient.

What we can do right now at the personal level is to leverage what social distancing has to offer: self-improvement, self-care, personal development, and productivity hacking.

The 21/90 Rule

I agree these terms are subjective, and they vary from person to person. But that’s what makes them so unique. We can pick up any habit we would like to develop these days, and there are some proven ways in which we can stick to it even after the lockdown is over. Come on now; no one chooses to be a hot mess all the time.

Some of us might have heard of this popular rule: “Stick to a task for 21 days, and it will become a habit”. There is even an extension to this one called “The 21/90 rule”:

“It takes 21 days to make a habit and 90 more days after that to make it a lifestyle change.”

Little Positive Things Accumulate Over Time

I am not saying that you will change your life in these 21 days. But based on my experience, which includes daily morning exercise streak since July 13, 2019, and few more habits like reading, writing, sleep management, dieting, personal journaling, morning routine, etc., I think if you are consistent in your routine even in one of the habits, this will drive you in developing more powerful habits.

It is the compounding effect of consistency. It reflects in day-to-day activities.

How Am I So Confident About This Strategy?

“Streak builds a mountain of achievements that you take full credit for.”

How does a person trust a method? The practical way is from his personal experience in the long run. Let me tell you a quick realization. When I started my fitness journey on July 13 last year, I didn’t know that I would hit 100 days streak with it. I just wanted to make sure the initial soreness did not stop me. Despite my work schedule, I tried to block time for morning gym because I have read about the benefits of morning workouts and planning a series of blogs to summarize my experience. I am on writing streak too in this lockdown!

I wanted to manage the initial days of fatigue, build muscle memory, recover effectively between workouts. Once I reached day 7 of showing up continuously, I tried to push for 10, and then one thing led to another, and I maintained that streak till day 157. I even wrote a blog on my first 100 days streak.

But today is day 75 of the second one. Why? What happened? What intervened? The new year holiday season ganged up with Sunburn festival and messed up my whole schedule and stretched inactivity for around three weeks. Three weeks of lethargy is enough to slow down your muscle gains, and it is difficult to hit the tracks again with the same momentum.

But I knew that I did it once and I could do it again. So here I am on my day 75 of the second streak. And I believe if I can do it, then anyone can. It is just the process that is personalized.

What Am I Trying to Develop In This Lockdown Period?

In my latest article on March 1, I resolved to publish one article every month through December 2020. That would be 10 (including March), but now the number is 31. Yes, one blog for each day of lockdown! Who knows I may continue this streak even after the lockdown is over!

I have visualized what the journey will look like at the end of this year. That means I will have an online journal of thoughts. They are not in my head; they are on screen; they are out there on the internet for the world to see, and that improves mental clarity and self-awareness. Journaling shows the progress of who you are becoming, and you can see your personal growth described in words. Story of your life is in words.

Social Distancing As A Learning Experience

I am using this social distancing time as a growth opportunity, and I have studied that the human brain develops best with learning and practising. And I love neuroscience.

The brain is the most attractive part of your body, and it is essential to train it continuously for the holistic development of your body too.

And while you are practising this social distancing, here are some strategies that will make your solitude worthwhile. For almost nine months now, I have been following this 21/90 rule, and it is the source of every new learning plan I execute. Let’s call a spade a spade; this rule is a life hack.

Seinfeld Strategy For Habit Development

See those check marks? They are my motivation every day. — Photo by The Author

One popular method that works for habit development is the Seinfeld Strategy. I didn’t know I was following this strategy all this time until I read about it. Its principle is, “Don’t break the chain.”

If you want to develop a new habit and stick to it, you have to have a method that will help you track your progress and build confidence along the way while enjoying the process.

And what is more motivating than seeing your achievements first thing in the morning? Your day starts with a smile of self-confidence that you carry throughout the day. Or seeing them the last thing before bed is also satisfying and provides a peaceful sleep knowing that you are done for the day.

More the number of tasks, harder it is to manage and track them manually. So start with one habit that is on the top of your priority list right now.

My priority at that time (July last year) was to be physically and mentally fit so that I can accomplish my daily activity without any fatigue. That is my definition of fitness.

It is still my priority currently, but since I have managed two streaks of 157 and 75 days (that makes it 232 days in total, I tell this myself for encouragement), I have already established 21/90 rule for morning exercise, and it comes naturally to me. The same is for all the other ones I mentioned before.

Most challenging was sleep management because the wee hours in college were so unpredictable, it turned us into night owls. It took 60 days to improve sleep quality, and it taught me the power of patience. Patience builds consistency; consistency rewards you with grateful little achievements that pile up with time. When you look back, you are motivated by the mountain of your accomplishments, how far you have come, how much you have grown, and how much you have improved on your own by adopting lifelong learning.

Your Turn

What are you trying to develop in this lockdown period? You might have something in mind, and you are thinking of taking the first step. Execute it, skip the thinking and execute your plan.

It takes courage to take the first step, but the good thing about courage is that you never regret it. Even if the outcomes are adverse, you will have a learning experience, and that will promote a healthy lifestyle.

You will take guided steps with time, and while the pandemic curve flattens, your self-awareness graph will soar.

This post belongs to a series of articles I am publishing in this 21-day streak. This is the first one — 20 more to go.

As I keep publishing daily, I will update this list until it has 20 more articles:

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