Rule #1: No More Zero Days.
Rule #2: Be Grateful of the Three YOU’s.
Rule #3: Forgive Yourself.
Rule #4: Exercise and Books.
Folks. Today I ran across something that I had to share with you all. This may be one of the most important episodes we’ll ever do, and I have to be up front that this did not come from me. You know how sometimes you practice or advocate for something but never really put the approach into words, and you come across someone who has done that beautifully? That’s how I felt with this several year old comment shared by Redditor ryans01, and he was kind enough to give us permission to rework his original four rules here on the podcast so that the ideas have more opportunity to be shared to a broader audience who might otherwise not find them.
This is particularly important — incredibly important — if you are finding this right now while in a tough place. This comment was posted on a thread where a person was saying that they simply didn’t care about themselves, not caring about their grades, their work, their social life, or their health. If you feel like you are in a funk or a rut right now, that’s completely okay. This happens to all of us. For some situations and for some people it can be harder to get out of the cycle of doing absolutely nothing to progress or improve yourself and your life. This is also completely okay. Remember that you of course don’t have to listen to this, don’t have to read this, don’t have to do any of what we’re about to discuss. But you get to choose, and that’s why I’m so glad you found this today, and why I’m so glad Ryan from Canada is letting us share this with you. Here are four powerful rules for turning your life around or simply for getting out of a rut.
Rule #1: No More Zero Days. A zero day is a day when you don’t do a single thing to progress toward whatever dream or goal you’re chasing or aspiring toward. The idea here isn’t to go all-out, writing an essay a day or finishing five projects an hour. That’s not the point; the point of aiming only for non-zero days is that you have to make yourself — promise yourself — that you now live in a non-zero system. Didn’t do anything all day and it’s 11:58 PM? Write one sentence. Do one push-up. Read one page of that chapter. Just one, because one is non-zero. Being bummed can easily turn into a cycle, a vortex, an echo chamber where you’re stuck spinning through the same motions of accomplishing nothing. You aren’t going to move toward your goals from inside this vicious cycle. We’ve talked about this a ton on this podcast, particularly with our guests: remember that everything comes from systems and processes, and that when you see successful people around you, what you aren’t seeing is that everything they’ve accomplished came from a massive string of consistent non-zeros. Even if you are a productive, positive person listening to this or reading this right now, my own experience has been that reminding myself of this rule is enough to get me amped up to do even more. One is non-zero. One hundred is non-zero. But you can’t get to one hundred without first getting to one. One is enough, and immensely better than zero, where it’s so easy and dangerous to get stuck when things are tough. The first of the four rules: no more zero days.
Rule #2: Be Grateful of the Three YOU’s. Not the letter U. The three YOU’s, the three versions of yourself, and this isn’t as woo-woo as it sounds. There’s the past you, the present you, and the future you. Be grateful to the past you for the positive things you’ve done. Be grateful to the past you for the learnings you’ve gained from mistakes. Do favors for the future you like you would for your best friend. Feeling terrible about yourself today? Stop a second and think of a good decision you made yesterday. Eat a salad and tuna instead of fast food? “Thank you, younger me.” Was yesterday a non-zero day because you wrote 200 words and that was the most you could motivate yourself to get done? “Thank you, younger me.” Saved up a few bucks a months for the past 6 months so you could buy a cool new toy for yourself? “Thank you, younger me.” The second part of the “three you’s” is that you have to do your future self favors like you would your best friend. And guess what, if you’re thinking “I have no best friend,” well, you do now. You’ve got two, in future and past you. If you’re tired and procrastinating with something useless, tell your present self to take a hike and get lost. Tell yourself, “this one’s for future me, I’m going to do a p90x workout for the next 15 minutes, and I’m doing this for future me.” Alarm clock goes off and your bed is too comfy and you’re dreading going to work or school? Tell your present self to take a deep breath, build a bridge, and get over it. Tell yourself, “I’m doing this for my best friend, future me, so I’m getting up right now and jogging a mile.” Thank your past self for every single activity that improves your life. The cycle of doing something for someone else — in this case the future you — and thanking someone — the past you — for the good in your life is paramount to building gratitude and productivity. And over time you should spread the gratitude to others who help you on your path.
Rule #3: Forgive Yourself. Seriously, forgive yourself. Let’s say you have all the know-how, money, ability, strength, and talent to achieve your goals. And then you don’t. Now you’re back in the cycle, with negative self-talk bouncing around in your head, telling yourself that you’re terrible or worthless because you didn’t manage to do become who or what you wanted to become. As Grant Cardone loves to say, “failure breeds laziness,” and of course, laziness is a cancer to productivity. Keep yourself out of the cycle and remember to forgive yourself, and do this often. Let’s say yesterday you tried your best to have a non-zero day and you failed. So what. That’s one day. Tell yourself, “I forgive you, past self. But today is going to be a non-zero world championship level day of crushing it. I’m doing this for future me.” If you need to say it out loud, say it out loud. Forgive yourself.
Rule #4: Exercise and Books. When I was reading this comment by Reddit user ryans01, I smiled when I saw that this was the fourth and final rule. I really smiled. This is such standard advice but it so often goes ignore. The great thing is that it’s so simple, and you can start right now. When you exercise daily, you get smarter, you get high from endorphins, you clear your mind, and you do your future self a huge favor. As for books, almost every single thing anyone has ever thought of, or felt, or gone through, or wanted, or wanted to know how to do, has been figured out by someone else and distilled into a book. Get some books. Frequent listeners of the podcast will know I love audiobooks and close friends know that for audiobooks I really loved, I often will buy the hard copy to have it around and see it and feel it. Do whatever works for you, but remember that right now you are listening to or reading this episode of this podcast, which is dedicated to learning and improving. You’ve already done something just by being here right now, so you should thank your past self for seeking it out and your present self for being here now. But you know what else you can do? Read “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.” Read “Emotional Intelligence.” Read “From Good to Great.” Read “Peak.” Read the autobiography or biopic of someone you admire, like Kevin Hart or Elon Musk. You can read books dedicated not just to self-help or productivity but also to your career. Read books that will help you understand. Read about calisthenics and body weight exercising. Reading is the warp whistle from Super Mario 3: it gets you to the next level that much faster.
That’s it. If you’re in a tough place, or find yourself in one in the future, this is your mission. So what if you’ve got 36 essays due in 24 minutes? Yes, your past self let you down big time, but I forgive you, and you should forgive yourself. Do as much as you can in those 24 minutes and then move on. Regardless of whether or not hearing or reading this for the first time helps make your day better, if you wake up tomorrow and you can’t remember these 4 rules, come back and listen or read again.