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The Non-Zero Principle

The Non-Zero Principle

Mike Doane

How small actions over time add up to big things

We all get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things we need to do. I have a simple system for getting those things done. I call it the non-zero principle.

The non-zero principle is the simple declaration that great results can be achieved through consistent, incremental action over a sustained period of time. If I want to write a book, 100 words a day is all it takes. If I want to stay in shape, 15 minutes of exercise every night will get me there. If I want to pay off my mortgage faster, $100 extra a month will help.

Anything more than zero is enough. We achieve success for the simple fact that we did something rather than nothing.

The trick is to make goals so simple, they’re nearly impossible to ignore. Often 100 words turns into 500. 10 pushups turn into 20. $100 becomes $250. We find ourselves saying, “What’s a couple more?” and we get to our goals faster than we expected.

That’s the beauty of the non-zero principle. It helps us achieve more than we ever thought we could.