An insight into motivation; how we can enforce a “never zero” policy to keep us in the zone!
“Whoever wants to reach a distant goal must take small steps”, Helmut Schmidt.
We all have goals, whether they’re new or old, high or low, we all have some things we are reaching for. Consider your aims in life and take a look at how you’re going about achieving them.
It could be work-related, a career goal for example that you have had set for yourself for some time. Or a weight loss or fitness intention, a change in diet, reaching out to friends and family more, learning to meditate, or learning a new language. Whatever your projections may be the one thing that can stand in the way of realising them is motivation. Good planning is also an essential tool to making dreams come true, if you have a plan and stick to it then you’re on a good path to succeeding. The problem so often can be that we don’t stick to the plan, or other things get in the way. I have been trying to write my first novel for years now and so many other life things have interrupted my plans. It can be so difficult to break habits to start new ones, to put something into practice that wasn’t previously part of your life means finding space and time for that new objective. It isn’t easy but there are ways to make it less difficult to incorporate.
One incredibly simple and effective way to encourage consistency and progression is to give yourself a ‘never zero’ policy, meaning that you never do nothing towards your intention. Even if that something is only a few minutes, it is a few minutes in the direction you want to head in. For example, if you want to learn a new yoga flow to be able to practice daily, you don’t expect to be able to do this in one sitting, it takes energy and gradual learning. So you’ll need to find a place to start. Beginning something is the initial hurdle, once you start, you need to continue and keep on that track until you know the moves, have mastered the stretches, and can practice freely of your accord. This may take a week, it may take a year, but the idea behind ‘never zero’ is that you contribute towards the end result each and every day. You can call it baby steps, or you can call it gradual but continuous progress, the point is that you move forward daily.
Any habit is hard to break, but it is just as tricky sometimes to form new ones. The ‘never zero’ approach gives us a sure fire way to ensure that we always make progress. Once something becomes part of our daily routine it tends to stick.
A great way to organise our time in order to begin this procedure is to create a motivation calendar. Whether you go digital or old-school, a schedule is something that puts our lives in order and generally makes things a lot easier to keep track of. To prevent getting distracted by anything else in our life we need to regulate our time and use it wisely, if we are going to start something new then it needs to fit somewhere, with the ‘never zero’ theory we at least achieve something daily, it makes space for that particular thing and the more we open ourselves to it the more it becomes a definite. You do not go to bed that evening if you haven’t managed to contribute something towards that goal, and that is how to get going and keep it going. Write a few lines of that poetry, or write a few words, go for a ten minute run, or an hour long run, meditate for five minutes, or fifty, it doesn’t have to be a big step but taking the step is the main thing. This progress affects our psyche in the way that resembles commitment and reinforces that this is now part of life.
This theory is also great in that it is not limited to one goal, or one concept. You can start as many goals as you have in this manner, as long as you’re not overestimating how much you can incorporate into your life. Set up reminders for yourself on whatever device you rely on, or even leave notes-to-self in places you’ll definitely see, you can even write it on the back of your hand! “Never zero”.
This is not a life hack to achieve a certain goal, you’ve got to put the work in to get there. Unrealistic attempts will result in causing us stress and build a negative feeling towards that which we are trying to achieve, rather than getting us on the right track. There is a similar theory invented and upheld by the Japanese named Kaizen, literally meaning “small, continual improvements”. The idea being to focus on consistent, every day improvements in your life; ones that make you better than you were yesterday, rather than how small the step you take is.
“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens—and when it happens, it lasts.”
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