Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

No Zero-Sum Days

Thinking the past couple of weeks about how we get better. How we improve at a thing.

Whatever that thing may be - from vocation to hobby to what you hope to become.

I believe there is a path to close the gap between taste and performance. Ira Glass talks about this - and it's fleshed out in the blog this week.

And finally:

Do the Work. Every Day.

I listen to a lot of podcasts - as my day job has me in the car quite a bit. I was listening to a podcast this week in which the guest talked about having no "zero-sum days." (I can't remember which one it was. If I figure it out, I'll reference it here.)

This is helpful.

We (I) often have a tendency to make unsustainable, grandiose goals.

"I will write 1000 words per day."
Every day. Starting tomorrow. (And I've never written 100 words more than two days in a row.

"I will go to the gym for an hour five days per week."
Decision made while brushing cookie crumbs off the couch after a weekend of Netflix binging.

"I will create 15 new glass vases per month"
But, I've never blown glass before, and have none of the equipment.

You get the idea.

Don't set yourself up to fail. Don't make large goals that are difficult, if not impossible, to keep.

Start with this: I will have no zero-sum days. Push the project (the skill, the thing you are working to improve) forward a little bit every day.

Can't write 1000 words? It's fine. Can you write 100? 50? 15? Can you take five minutes to brainstorm ideas for the next blog? Can you outline a couple of chapters for the book?

Going to the gym seem completely overwhelming? How about choosing to take the stairs instead of the escalator? Take a 10 minute walk or do 10 pushups in the office?

You get the idea.

Move the project/goal/"thing" forward. A little bit. Every day.

I believe "every day" is the key, no matter how small the progress. No zero-sum days. It's how habits are built.

And once you have the right habits, you can pretty much build whatever you want.