Non-Zero Days

Overcome Your Resistance

Whenever you try to do something challenging, there will be resistance.

Some comes from external forces, but Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, writes that the greatest enemy to progress comes from within our own brains.

Resistance is the response of the frightened, petty, small-time ego to the brave, generous, magnificent impulse of the creative self. Resistance is the shadow cast by the innovative self’s sun.

Resistance can lead to inaction.

It’s easier to sit in bed watching Netflix than getting out and doing something productive. It’s easier to sit back and turn off your brain scrolling through other people’s lives than to actively create and invest in real-world relationships.

But when we take that step, it can be incredibly rewarding.

We should all treat inaction like the addiction it is and continually cultivate habits that will lead us toward bigger and better things.

Something is better than nothing. This is what I tell myself every time I feel too tired to get on the dreaded treadmill. I might not run five miles, but if I run three miles, that’s certainly better than zero!

Anything is better than zero.

Instead of setting unrealistic expectations of every day being a “hero day” where you accomplish all your goals at once, or being continually disappointed by “zero-days” where you don’t accomplish anything at all, consider a different approach: “non-zero days.”

The first time you try to run, don’t attempt a marathon. Instead, start building habits and routines that will eventually prepare you for the big task you want to accomplish.

Will Smith uses this analogy for building discipline and perseverance.

When you're running, there's a little person that talks to you and says, "Oh I'm tired. My lung's about to pop. I'm so hurt. There's no way I can possibly continue. You want to quit. If you learn how to defeat that person when you're running. You will know how to not quit when things get hard in your life.

What a rewarding feeling to accomplish something today I know I couldn’t do a month ago.

The key is to push past the urge to procrastinate and wallow in inaction. As Steven Pressfield writes:

The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don't just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed. Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work.

No one’s path to success is a straight line. There will always be setbacks, failures, and bad days. But by setting good habits and realistic expectations, you can gradually get closer to the person you want to become.