Personal Improvement

No More Zero Days

Updated on March 23, 2020 Updated on March 23, 2020
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"Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment." —Jim Rohn

A no zero day is a small way to help you find discipline even when you don’t have any. It’s a simple concept that can go a long way to improving your life.

Some days it’s hard to get motivated. But even a small step is sometimes all you need to help you reach goals whether they’re financial, physical, or any other area where you need a little push forward.

What Is A No Zero Day?

A no zero day is a day when you have to do at least one thing, but it can be a tiny thing, that will help you in pursuit of a goal. The concept started, or at least I found it, in the subreddit, Get Disciplined. Note that the sub name isn’t called “Get Motivated.”

As we’ve discussed before, motivation is easy to find and hard to sustain. Discipline is what sustains us in pursuit of a goal.

One Simple Trick to Achieve All Your Long Term Goals

One Simple Trick to Achieve All Your Long Term Goals

It Provides Momentum

Conventional wisdom says that it takes 21 days for a behavior to become a habit. You have to continue a new behavior for 21 days in a row. After that, it becomes easier, an ingrained part of your day and life rather than something you have to remember or force yourself to do.

But there is newer, more in depth research that shows it takes 66 days to form a habit. Sorry guys. So you might just decide to give up before you start. If your goal is something that doesn’t take much time, flossing for example, than you really have zero excuse for skipping it in that time period.

But if it’s something more time consuming, like running for thirty minutes a day, or logging every financial transaction into a spread sheet (there are quicker, easier ways to track expenses like Mint but some people prefer to go old school), there can be a day here or there when you genuinely don’t have time.

You miss a day, it might turn into missing a few and now you give up. But what if you just ran for five minutes? What if you just logged a single transaction into your spread sheet? You might not have met your exact goal but you did something. And that small something keeps your momentum from stalling out.

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While You’re There…

I’ve done the just run for five minute trick and it works! Because you know what is likely to happen? You’ll run the whole thirty minutes. You’re already in your work out kit, you’re already in the park or at the gym. You’re already sweating. Might as well finish the run.

It will work with the spread sheet too. You’re already at your computer, you already have it pulled up. Might as well finish entering your transactions.

Make Sure You Can’t Avoid It

A big part of reaching a goal is getting started each day. If you have this problem, set some things in place to make doing whatever it is you should be doing hard to ignore. Make sure it’s in your face, make sure it is literally harder to step over it than to just do it.

If I really want to clean out and re-organize a closet or drawer, I empty the whole thing out into the middle of the floor. So if I don’t finish, I have to step over it, walk around it, look at it, staring back at me, silently judging me for being a lazy, undisciplined bastard.

You can do this too. Wear your work out clothes to bed. One less step when you wake up in the morning. (Although sleeping naked is really good for you, maybe consider starting that habit ;).

Pack the book you’re trying to finish with your lunch. That way you can read it while you eat at your desk. This is a good idea anyway, to do something for yourself rather than continue to work while you eat lunch.

No Justification

It’s easy to talk yourself out of doing things you don’t want to do. You’re tired, it’s been a long day. You deserve a break. One day missed won’t matter. It’s easy to justify all of those excuses when the thing you should be doing is tiring or time consuming. That’s why it works!

But it is not tiring or time consuming to read one page of the book you want to finish. Or to write one paragraph of the paper that’s due by the end of the week. You can’t justify wussing out on such a small amount of time and effort.

Using the no zero method keeps your momentum going without making you feel exhausted or resentful enough just to go ahead and give up.

Come On!

I know you’re busy. Job, family, home, uninterrupted Doctor Who binge  because all the episodes you DVR’d last year were lost when the DVR crapped out after the fourth episode and now it’s finally on Netflix so you have to catch up before the new season starts. Well, that last one is oddly specific to me but it’s my article.

But no one, no one, is too busy to find five minutes or less to do something that will advance a goal. If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up!

Featured Image Photo Credit: “LG WHISEN 손연재 지면 광고 촬영 사진” by LG전자 on Flickr

Candice Elliott - Senior Editor
Candice Elliott is a substantial contributor to Listen Money Matters. She has been a personal finance writer since 2013 and has written extensively on student loan debt, investing, and credit. She has successfully navigated these areas in her own life and knows how to help others do the same. Candice has answered thousands of questions from the LMM community and spent countless hours doing research for hundreds of personal finance articles. She happily calls New Orleans, Louisiana home-the most fun city in the world.

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