I’ve written before about making sure that your “to-do list” isn’t undermining your motivation, and about time-blocking in order to make progress on what you really want to do. This time I’d like to talk about something that works with both of those things, and is a great way for people to regain a sense of control over their lives. It’s a very simple idea called “Non Zero Days”.
A zero day is a day when you don’t do anything to contribute towards one of your goals. Not making any progress can leave you feeling hopeless, and that feeling of hopelessness can leave you feeling stuck and unable to make any progress the next day. People can quickly become stuck in this self-perpetuating cycle.
Non zero days are the surprisingly straightforward method of escaping this cycle. Every day you make the commitment to taking one action, no matter how small, that takes you nearer to achieving what you want to do. The point about nothing being too small is that you don’t discount something as being “not big enough” and leave yourself having another zero day.
Zero days don’t see you standing still, they actually see you moving backwards. The strength of non zero days is that they move people inexorably away from the cycle of hopelessness and inertia. Progress doesn’t come from a handful of days where amazing things are achieved, but from a string of consistent non zero days.
You can apply this to any task or goal. If it’s about getting fitter or healthier then you don’t have to go to the gym every day. You could actively choose to walk further, to choose something healthier to eat or choose a smaller portion. If it gets to the end of the day and you haven’t done anything yet then do some exercise – sit-ups or press-ups. Exactly what they are and how many isn’t important – what’s important is that it isn’t a zero day, and that your non zero days build into that consistent, empowering string.