Last week, my husband shared something with me that would seem to have changed my life. It's the most beautiful, simple solution to a struggle that plagues me every day. It's called the Non-Zero day. For most of my life, I have done battle with anxiety, self-doubt, and self-loathing. While these days most of these negative cycles have been kicked to the curb, there is still one activity that triggers all three simultaneously, and that is exercise.
For you, it might be making art, answering email, getting started on client work, or beginning a project. You've dreamed, you've set goals, you've planned goals, but when it comes to taking the first step you're paralyzed with fear and uncertainty, positive that failure is on its way.
You might be discouraged by previous bad experiences, certain that because these events have lead to failure and frustration in the past, they must lead there still (a logical fallacy, by the way).
I could tell you that the first step is the hardest (and don't we know it), but instead, I'm going to tell you how to get moving, how to get over the inertia and fear that comprise Beginning a Task.
The key is to make that first step as easy as possible. It doesn't matter how much, or how little you do, as long as you're not having a "Zero" day. A "Zero" day means you've done nothing. So what is a Non-Zero day?
You've got it, boss. It's a day where you do something. Anything. The smallest step towards your goals.
It's one pushup. One minute of yoga. One email. One photograph. One brushstroke. One sentence.
And that's all you have to do. It's much easier to motivate yourself to do just one of something, rather than staring down the barrel of a 50-minute workout, or a week long project. One is quick. One is quiet. One is unimposing.
The exciting thing here is that getting started is actually the hardest part. You will probably find that after one pushup, one sentence, and one email, doing the next one isn't so bad— I mean, you're already on the yoga mat, or holding a pen right? You may as well do one more.
And you will find that each day, as long as you are not having a Zero day, it will get a little bit easier to do just one more. You will find that getting that first One under your belt becomes habit, and when a task becomes habit, your fears, anxieties, and self-doubts begin to slip away.
So, what are you waiting for? Go do one.
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