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An attempt at a Non Zero Day on a Zero Day (Thus Far)

Today has been rough.

I spent most of the day embroiled in an emotionally taxing negotiation. No excuses or complaints or anything, but this meant at the end of it I was completely depleted.

AKA I’ve been sprawled on the couch from 10 AM onwards, one leg propped on the couch back, eating junk food and watching Parks & Rec while simultaneously browsing reddit on my phone the entire day.

Current mood level: Andy Dwyer with two broken legs.

Alexa: add beer bottle grabber thingy to shopping cart.

It is what it is. We all have rough days. And rough days are okay. What’s not okay however, is having a zero day.

What is a Zero Day?

A zero day is a day where you’ve done absolutely nothing to help you get closer to your goal or dream.

Even the smallest incremental step towards your goal instantly shifts this into a Non Zero Day. (I feel like this should have been branded as a One Day, but that’s just me.)

I’ve been a lurker of r/Non Zero Day for years now — it’s a frequently visited productivity / motivation based community I check when I need that extra motivational boost to get my ass off the couch.

For those struggling with motivation and procrastination, a place to share your daily progress towards your goals. In this sub, users post about how they avoided a Zero Day, share experiences, motivate and seek motivation.

r/Non Zero Day manifesto

Understanding motivation

We all understand that motivation is finite. It’s the spark of inspiration, but not the lasting flame. It won’t keep your fire burning forever.

There will be days you don’t feel like shit and don’t want to do anything. (Personal example, today.)

Even on those days, fight the good fight and power through it. Don’t let the dying spark of motivation fade, dig deep to produce at least one result towards your goal.

Motivation is finite true, but do not forget that it can also be replenished.

Having a Non Zero Day is one of the ways you can replenish motivation. Fighting your internal procrastination is one way to reassert to yourself that: I am someone that sticks with my goals. This reinforces your own perception of yourself and can be an instant dopamine booster.

Generating the willpower to do the smallest task is a measure of consistency. On days when you especially don’t feel like it, having the mental fortitude to commit to this smallest action can transform into a waterfall of additional productivity. Sometimes, all you need to do is to get started. (Some days, mind you, not all. I have a feeling today is not one of those days for me).

As @visualizevalue eloquently puts it, consistency creates competency. And what is consistency?

To show up for your goal.
To keep trying.

And on days when you don’t want to, to do it anyway.
Even if it’s the smallest step.

Or, in an *attempt* to bring this article full circle, help yourself help your future self by having a Non Zero Day.

For me, a Non Zero Day these days means practicing my writing to hone clarity of thought and communication. That means my goal is to write one paragraph. An outline. A title for the next piece. Anything.

It’s currently 10:30 PM. I have about an hour and a half to have some sort of result or output to compensate for an otherwise useless day. And so, I’m attempting to write this one article. I already know from the onset that this article will be a rambling stream of consciousness mini-personal-pep-talk-to-myself / really should probably be a personal journal entry.

But it still represents practice. And that is key.

And so, I’ll end this mini personal pep talk with these two questions:

  1. What is the top priority goal you have at the moment?
  2. What is the smallest, actionable step you can take to make progress?

Lastly, in an attempt to psych myself up to publish a less than perfect piece of content, here are some Leslie Knope positive motivation gifs.

Because I — and you — got this. Let’s make this a Zero to One [Day].

Draft complete: 11:11 PM. I’ll take it as a good sign.


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