Zero: How Starting From Nothing Builds Success

We often do too much from a fear of doing nothing. We don’t give ourselves enough time to think about what we do because that’s when doubt can creep in.

The problem with never really embracing this zero state is that often we do too much and never do anything well. If we constantly need to try to maintain habits then it becomes a game of spinning plates. Some people can maintain many many plates before they come crashing down around them, but even when it looks good to us outsiders, it doesn’t mean the person is happy or the act is sustainable.

Accept starting from nothing, scrub clean the list of things you are trying to achieve, and pick one thing you want to do this year people spend decades struggling with nutrition because they don’t spend the time working on one single thing at a time. Start from zero, work on one habit at a time until that habit is so ingrained it is your new not-trying. Start from a baseline, and focus on a task until the baseline catches up and it’s easier to do it than to not do. Then, pick another.

Here’s some start from zero habits that you can begin with, and I guarantee there are some people out there  reading this that despite all the more advanced things they manage to keep going don’t manage these simple tasks:

Not enough diversity at meals: Add a handful of colorful veggies to every meal.

Not enough physical activity: Add 3 x 20-30min walks to your weekly habits (I lift weights 5x a week, and I still get the physical benefits of going for walks, every athlete should strive for it)

Not sleeping enough: Set an alarm for an hour before when you need to go to bed each night to get 8 hrs of sleep. That alarm tells you when it’s time to turn off your phone and start winding down for sleep. TV off, laptop off, start getting ready for bed and set stuff up for the morning.

Too much social media: Download an app that limits using your phone (I use Offtime). Aim for an hour a day where you don’t check your phone. You can do pretty much anything else, just engage with it. This coincides nicely with going for a walk.

Not enough face to face time with loved ones: Aim for one date night a week. Accept no other distractions, schedule changes, and never cancel without rescheduling. If you can’t do a week, try every 2 weeks, or every 4, but part of the agenda of date night is scheduling the next one.

Mastery is not built on doing the advanced things, mastery is built on developing foundations first. If you want to learn to spin 20 plates, start with one.

Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
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