Week Twenty! I started this experiment back in February, meaning that I’ve been my own accountability guinea pig for just over half a year now. Of course, I feel as though I’ve barely chipped away at my bad habits and negative traits, there is still progress I’d like to review.

Specifically, the idea of zero days, which is an idea that came from this Reddit comment that gained a lot of popularity within self-improvement communities.

TL;DR: The idea behind it is similar to James Clear’s idea of atomic habits, where it’s better to do one push-up in a day, than nothing at all. With the hope that, once the person is in the position to do a push-up, they’ll instead do five or ten.

As action begets more action the way inaction begets more inaction. Don’t let a single day go by where you don’t do anything at all that would better yourself.

Before jumping into this, there were many zero days where I felt strung-out. Now such a day would cause me a lot of money and derailments. Instead with Beeminder, I find myself having bare-minimum days instead. On days that I feel totally unproductive, here’s a qualitative list of what I have to do in order to not derail:

  • Meditate on what I’m grateful for.
  • Write ~500 words in a journal entry or some other medium.
  • Take an hour to study programming and work on assignments.
  • Take an hour-long walk outside to reach my step goal.
  • Read a couple chapters of the book I’m currently on.
  • Study French for around twenty minutes.
  • Write a summary of the day’s events.

That might seem like a silly humblebrag, but it’s more of a prelude to a cautionary message I’d like to share. In spite of all the self-help articles that list these kind of things as being important to start doing, and all the aspiring people looking to better themselves with this kinda stuff, I have to say that it doesn’t really change how I feel at the end of the day.

There is no buzzing sense of joy or euphoria when consistently practicing good habits–no deserved dopamine hit1. There is no balanced or equal reaction that you might get from indulging a bad habit, for instance.

I suppose I continue doing these things is because I feel as though I ought to, and I know there’s a vague building foundation towards larger works down the line. I know it’s a personal fault for not having something more concrete in the long-term future I could be telling myself I’m working towards, however.

That all said, I look forward to continuing this, and to keep adding new ideas and systems to keep pushing myself!

  1. There is, of course, a major exception to this: exercise.