The First 10% – Jerry Seinfeld’s Secret To Life

This is article #51 to be published on the Get The Guy blog from my brother Stephen. Steve helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

(Photo: Mustafa Khayat)

Enter Stephen

If you can get over the first 10 minutes of going for a jog, you get locked into the runner’s headspace and you can push for an hour-long workout.

If you write just 100 words, even if it’s dross, you’ll be in a state of flow and will be able to grind out your daily 1000.

If you have one conversation with a stranger at a party, you’ll feel a buzz of adrenaline and begin to glide around the guests with ease, feeling natural as you talk to people you don’t know.

Jerry Seinfeld said that the ability to wake up and lift those first few weights every day is what separate those who were once great from those who remain great in the long-term.

Most people never become great. Others achieve great things but become complacent and slip down the hill again. They stop wanting to do the grind of pushing through that first 10% of hard work everyday.

And I don’t blame them.

That first 10% is the sour-spot of any goal.

It’s the part we dread and put off and do anything to distract ourselves from – watching TV, gorging on food, or yakking on pointless Skype conversations – we all find avoidance activities to hide from those first painful minutes of any difficult task.

People who are all talk generally find that 10% too horrific, too intimidatingly arduous to push through, and so they never even get moving in the first place.

My Goal For January

For the rest of January, I propose we make this a month of motion.

Our only goal is going to be to hit that 10% every single day.

What I’m hoping you’ll find is the same thing I do. When you just clear that first hurdle, you send yourself hurtling down the road of progress.

And progress is all you need.

Progress doesn’t feel like a lot when it’s happening, but when you add up the days and hours and minutes of progress, that’s what your achievements essentially amount to: How many progress hours did I clock up this year?

Using the first 10% TODAY

Let’s say that this month your goal is to meet more men.

Maybe you’re coming up with all these grand plans right now.

You’re thinking about how to add new activities into your lifestyle, build a better social circle, and figure out the best hotspot to go on Friday nights to find available men.

And that’s all great.

But I want to ask what you could do today to put you closer to that goal.

Maybe you’re planning to meet 10 new men over the next few weeks. Well, what if I said you had to meet at least 2 of those today? What would you need to do differently? Where would you need to be? How would you start a conversation?

I always think of this as being analogous to someone who wants to lose weight. They might go buy running shoes, write out a nutrition plan, and set goals for themselves with a detailed schedule for next month.

But what if I just said: “You need to burn off 800 calories today. Make that work.”

You’d then have to slip on your beat up trainers, run around the block, start doing press ups in your bedroom, find the nearest jungle gym and do 10 pull ups, walk an extra 2 miles around your office…suddenly you’ll have made progress. You’ll have completed your first workout.

Now you just need to overcome first 10% done again tomorrow.

That fight will come everyday. You’ll never want to do that first 10%. It will always seem grueling, unfair. Everyday the clock resets and you have the fight over again.

Just beat that first 10%.

Then beat it the next day. And the next.

In 6 months, your life will improve by 90%. Come back to this article then and tell me all about it. I’ll do the same.

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26 Replies to “The First 10% – Jerry Seinfeld’s Secret To Life”

  • I’ve been battling this very problem and thinking of ways to get round it. I have some new workout gear, specially designed for sweating profusely in lol. I’ve been doing the same things to work out for a while now and thinking maybe I should mix it up a bit. Then possibly I could get excited about it rather than feeling that awful grind to get going. If you know someone that’s been in the military they have exercise, eating healthy and being disciplined ( never late) down to a fine art. It’s just part of their life, a habit. I do find it funny, I was watching Lorraine to catch Matthew’s slot yesterday and there was a lady telling us all to exercise and eat healthy so we could get our Summer bodies ready in the Winter. What a bizarre thing to say. I wear a swimsuit and more importantly nice lingerie all year round. I want a nice figure all year not just for the two weeks I’m on a package holiday!
    It used to be the same at University. Every time there was an important essay to write it was always suddenly important to do the cleaning or some other displacement activity not normally deemed that urgent!
    I’ll let you know how I get on in six months.
    Kathryn x
    ps. I love that line in the film ‘A Night at the Museum’ when she says, ‘I could be a supermodel if I didn’t like pizza so much’.

    1. Love the quote Kathryn lol

      I think these things do eventually become a habit, but you have to *expect* it to be difficult some of the time, then you’re not surprised when it’s hard to get going. The crucial thing is to begin every day again though.

      All best!

      Steve x

      1. I joke, I love reading and writing. You are right, it is difficult to get started and keep getting going every day. I’ll try your approach and work through the difficulty. It’s a pity I couldn’t stay around to meet at the Live Tour in London. It was great, so energising and motivating, I felt quite a buzz afterwards. Need to keep the momentum going now. x

      1. not necessarily ‘wasted’ words, still worth reading! It’s always good to elaborate, and appeals to a variety attention spans :) The last few paragraphs are a call to action, uniting all the readers, I like the sense of sharing and purpose!

  • Hi Steve, a great motivating article!

    Reference to “most people never become great.”, I just wanted to say that I believe greatness is a relative term. A lot of people that don’t come across as great to me might be seen as great people in their own communities and vice versa. It completely depends on how one perceives greatness. I dated some guys who were accomplished in their own field of work, they were great in some ways (otherwise I wouldn’t date them), but I wouldn’t call them great overall. Because they ultimately lacked some of the core values I was looking for in a guy, but I also accept the fact that they are great for some other women who are not looking for the same values as I do. To me, fame, titles, status, popularity don’t mean greatness. They are superficial values. I measure someone’s greatness based on his compassion, his ability to give and care, his integrity and his not bending his principles and believes no matter what.

    Enjoy the rest of your week! xx

    1. Love that Kiraz. You’re right, I should define greatness more widely. I really meant “achievement or worldly success” – but you’r right, there are people will achievement who you definitely wouldn’t want to spend any quality time with (I know a few!)

      All best,

      Steve x

  • This is lengthy but a good read ;) moving into motion…the hardest challenge would be keeping that 10% everyday.keeping the interest- oh my… in working out?being consistently inconsistent is so hard to, but tagging someone along would really be awesome:) things are better done when you’re sharing the journey with someone-it gives that extra fun ;)right?

    1. Yea, finding a partner to keep you motivated can be a wonderful thing. Just keep chipping away everyday and you’ll get the momentum, and go easy on yourself – if you do slightly less one day, just brush it off and move on to the next day.

      Good luck!

      Steve x

  • Hi Steve (and Matthew),

    Thanks for the push. I’ve been pushing myself in 2014 like I’ve never done before. I finished my edication, got help to be and find the woman I am, do the sport I’ve always wanted to do. Now in 2015 I want to push myself even further. And start my own little business at the end of the month. And I need that little percentage shifts each day. It made me the woman I am today. So let’s make it a better year! I’ve taken the first step toward love and it will be awnsered so I’m gonne see where I’ll end up. Either way, I don’t want to just look at my life. I wanne step in to it and life it. Get hurt, be broken. Stand up and try it all over again.. Because all the effort will be worth it somehow..

    Thank you!


    1. Really inspiring Tamara – love it! Also, I’m really fond of your idea of stepping into life, instead of looking at it. Very cool.

      1. So, he said, he’d wanted to give it another try. But he might move away, cause he’s had several jobinterviews at the other side of the ocean! Also one here. So I’m just gonna give this one another try.. Who knows where we might end up. Either way, I’m following my heart, going for the adventure.. So excited..

  • Hi Stephen,

    Thank you for the 10% push. It was the speech that was long over due for me for this month. Let’s say I did more than 10% of action and tasks this week then this entire month. I truly have not felt this inspired To complete long term goals. It is amazing how simplest inspirations triggers the biggest actions.

    Thank you, and have a lovely week.


    1. That’s great to hear – really pleased for you Mandy! Keep it up and awesome things will happen.

      Steve x

  • Stephen,
    Great topic! I just wanted to say I appreciate your posts and here is why: There are times when we ALL need a reminder to get off our butts and get to it… get up for that 5 a.m. alarm to fit in a workout, lace up our running shoes on a cold wintery day (when we’d rather sip tea & watch movies or nerd out over books) … Even though I feel motivated and driven it is great to know I am not the only one , at times, semi-begrudgingly responding to the initial alarm or first ten minutes at the gym…. :) I enjoy your insights and the style with which you deliver them. Thanks xx ~ Kimberley

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